THE SPIDER’S STRATAGEM (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)

An elusive mystery across unresolved Oedipal terrain, Bernardo Bertolucci’s Strategia del ragno weaves a tapestry two of whose strands are Freudianism and anti-Fascism. Legend and historical myth fill in a young man’s “memory” of his father where there is no basis for firsthand memory of this father, whose shadow nevertheless becomes increasingly hard for the […]

PARTNER (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1968)

Combining Marx and Freud, as was his wont in his early days, writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci, along with co-scenarist Gianni Amico, used Dostoievski’s 1846, pre-imprisonment novella The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which they moved to Italy and updated to the pro-Vietcong student-protest present, as a springboard for Il sosia, a dark, often opaque and arty, although […]

THE GRIM REAPER (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1962)

At his invitation, Bernardo Bertolucci completed Pier Paolo Pasolini’s script (along with Sergio Citti) and directed the result—beautifully. La commare secca thus became the 21-year-old poet’s auspicious film debut.      An immense bridge, glimpsed from below, cuts diagonally through the frame; what resembles a burst of birds turns out to be a flurry of notepad pages […]

BEFORE THE REVOLUTION (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1964)

“Those who didn’t live in the eighteenth century before the [French] Revolution will never be able to know the sweetness of life.” — Talleyrand At 22 Bernardo Bertolucci made Prima della rivoluzione. Fabrizio, his young protagonist, concludes there’s no escaping his bourgeois past, no matter his Leftist political leanings. The oppressed whom he would help […]

IL CONFORMISTA (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)

The quality of Bertolucci’s films is all over the map, but it is universally agreed that, from Alberto Moravia, The Conformist, about Fascism’s ghosts, is exceptionally beautiful.       For many of us, when we were in graduate school or college, The Conformist was the film to see. When two glamorous young women danced together in a […]