THE CONFORMIST (1970)

Fellow members and movie buffs. Thanks to David’s hustle, and all of our support, many of us were able to view Bernardo Bertolucci’s landmark film, THE CONFORMIST (1970) at the Wine Styles screening room. The first screening was of the only available video copy, the VHS dubbed, panned & scanned version. Oddly this was the only kind of version of the film that was offered to the public for over 35 years. Significantly, the film’s cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro, remastered the entire film; even adding some formly deleted scenes. The new DVD copy was released in early December. I was on the first to receive list from Amazon, and we had a flawless widescreen copy to enjoy during our second screening at Wine Styles. For those of you who watched both versions, it struck many of us that it was like viewing two separate films. Ron Boothe remarked that perhaps the members would like to make some comments regarding the differences in those two viewing experiences. So I invite all of you to join in on our new vital Blogsite, and make some comments; no matter how brief. For instance, our young rogue member, John K. might just have one word in his commentary; boring. I am working on a review and commentary that will appear here soon. GB

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About Glenn Buttkus

Former actor and Special Ed teacher for the blind, newly retired, spending my days struggling as poet, photographer, novelist, husband, and grandfather.
This entry was posted in 2004 - 2007, Discussion of Official TFC Selected Films. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to THE CONFORMIST (1970)

  1. Ron Boothe says:

    Glenn,
    I really liked your comments about the Conformist. I have it on order through netflix because I want to watch it one more time. I am particularly intrigued by your suggestion that the assistant might have been a psychological figment of his imagination. I will be watching carefully for counter-evidence to that hypothesis when I watch it the next time.

    The primay impression I have about the Conformist is the “mood” that it sets. I can not express what I mean by that very well in words, but when I think back about the movie, there is a certain “mood” that accompanies my memory of it — something that makes me want to go back and “re-visit” that psychological space where I found myself while watching the movie.
    Ron

  2. marlowe44 says:

    Ron & David:

    Psychologically the notion that Manganiello is an imagined charcter does hold water. Remember those marvelous scenes in FIGHT CLUB where we believe that Brad Pitt is a real character, only to discover he was Edward Norton’s splinter personality; confusing some of the other characters as Norton inquired about Pitt. Of course there were several characters in A BEAUTIFUL MIND that never wore flesh. I really was convinced that both Ed Harris and Paul Betteny were real for a time. So in THE CONFORMIST, Clerici certainly could have driven hiimself, only imagining that the other man was driving. Clerici could have bitch slapped Kiki, or even killed him while imagining that Manganiello did it. Consciously Clerici could not bully anyone but those who were weaker, like his wife, but unconsciously he could be a brute Fascist. Did he call himself in the first scene to alert himself as to the professor’s plight? Did he call on the phone when his wife answered in a later scene, identifying himself as Manganiello? Probably not. My gut feeling is that Bertolucci had no such intention. It was just that the henchman character was peculiar and idiosynchratic. But you are right, David, it does offer a literary and cinematic suggestion to those viewers and readers who want to peel the onion and savor the full aroma of the piece.

    Glenn

  3. Ron Boothe says:

    I am not sure what David’s concern is about a psychological interpretation of the character Manganiello. Good films can often be interpreted on several different levels, and there is a long tradition of film criticism that includes looking for possible psychological interpretations.

    If Bertolucci wanted to leave this interpretation viable, then he would have taken care to be sure there were no scenes inconsistent with this interpretation. Specifically, if Manganiello has no physical reality, but is only a figment of Clerici’s psyche, then Manganiello should not be allowed to appear in any scene where his conjurer is not present (perhaps also in flashback scenes where the flashback is attributed to Clerici). It seems to me that if Manganiello IS present in any such scenes, the psychological hypothesis is untenable. That is the counterevidence I will be looking for the next time I view The Conformist.
    Ron

  4. Ron Boothe says:

    I see that Glenn has added a full length commentary about the Conformist, so I am going to continue this thread of discussion at that more recent posting.
    Ron

  5. Ron Boothe says:

    NOTE: David had previously posted a comment here in which he expressed some skepticism about whether it was reasonable to entertain the hypothesis that Manganiello might be the figment of Clerici’s imagination. David asked me to delete that comment because he wants to revise and repost it. I have done so for him.
    Ron

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