While presenting this story, Bertolucci undertakes nothing less than a visual history of the cinema, employing every style from the earliest days of silent film onward. As the plot advances, the cinematic style grows increasingly modern. Alienation, sexual confusion, Oedipal rage, incredible risks taken to slake momentary lust, betrayal, nice clothes, and lovely interiors: classic Bertolucci themes, fully explored here for the first time. Il Conformista remains one of the most beautiful films and certainly Bertolucci’s most coherent work, an accomplishment of genius. It’s never tedious, pretentious, or overly arty. It can be disturbing as hell.
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