Bernardo Bertolucci


(Copyright © 1999-2018 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
5.0 La Commare Secca (1962)
7.0 Before the Revolution (1964)
6.4 Partner (1968)
7.0 The Spider's Strategem (1970)
6.0 The Conformist (1970)
7.3 Last Tango In Paris (1972)
7.7 1900 (1976)
6.9 The Moon (1979)
7.0 The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981)
7.2 The Last Emperor (1987)
6.0 The Sheltering Sky (1990)
6.4 Little Buddha (1993)
6.0 Stealing Beauty (1996)
6.7 Besieged (1998)
6.6 Sognatori/ Dreamers (2003)
5.5 Me and You (2012)
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If English is your first language and you would like to translate my old Italian text, contact me.
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Figlio del poeta Attilio, Bernardo Bertolucci si diede al cinema a vent'anni, aiuto regista di Pasolini per Accattone; l'anno dopo vinse un premio per la sua prima raccolta di poesie e girò il suo primo film, La Commare Secca/ The Grim Reaper (1962), un soggetto di Pasolini ambientato come al solito fra gli emarginati; fu Prima Della Rivoluzione/ Before the Revolution (1964) a mettere in luce il talento poetico e cinematografico di Bertolucci, allontanandolo dal modello "Pasoliniano" e avvicinandolo alla "nouvelle vague". E` la storia del fallimento ideologico di un giovane di provincia, tentato da un maestro ideologico e da una zia nevrotica, ma che alla fine si arrende alla fidanzata borghese e Cattolica. Il montaggio e la recitazione sono amatoriali. On a spring sunday a student, Fabrizio, runs around his town reciting an anti-clerical anti-bourgeoisie poem/speech. We see an aerial view of the city and then a car tour of the city's square. We see people waiting to enter the church for sunday mass. Fabrizio's fiance Clelia is inside the church. He tells us that he rejected her like he rejected the Church. At three o'clock Fabrizio encourages his friend Agostino to become a communist. Agostino ran away from his family. He doesn't like that Fabrizio calls his father a thief and his mother an idiot, although he agrees. He leaves angry at the judgmental Fabrizio, but then returns. Agostino improvises a circus-like show on his bicycle, falling repeatedly and dedicating each skit to one of his parents. Fabrizio stops at home to greet his young aunt Gina, who lives in a big city, and later nostalgically flips through old photos. Later Fabrizio stops by the river, where Agostino was just found dead, drowned. Fabrizio talks to a teenager who witnessed the tragedy and realizes that Agostino killed himself. At home he talks about Agostino to his aunt. At the funeral Fabrizio decides to remain in the car, and so does Gina. Gina too is unhappy. She sounds disappointed that he doesn't pay attention to her. They haven't seen each other since the funeral of her father, his grandfather. Gina tells Fabrizio her macabre thoughts about the dead. They continue the conversation in a cafe. She is supposed to return home that evening but Fabrizio asks her to stay. His only friend now is Cesare, the man who introduced him to communism. They go shopping together. She waits in the street while Fabrizio stops by the home of his communist friend Cesare. A little girl throws stones at her and then teases her, and Gina starts crying, as if the girl's childishness was a torture for her. Fabrizio finds her in tears. We hear her tender thoughts about Fabrizio. That night they have sex. During the day they dance to romantic music in the living room while Fabrizio's parents take a nap. She feels that their relationship is hopeless and that some day Fabrizio will regret it. Fabrizio visits again Cesare and this time Gina joins him. Fabrizio tells her that he feels home at Cesare's place. Fabrizio and Gina read communist pamphlets and then discuss popular legends with the master. That night Gina cannot sleep. At 4am a very neurotic Gina calls her psychologist and blames him for her crisis. It sounds like he told her to visit her family in the province, and now she's begging him to let her return to the big city. The following day she is followed by a man after buying a bunch of newspapers. Later we see them coming out of a hotel. Fabrizio sees them and realizes that she doesn't even know his name. Fabrizio leaves. She leaves too, without even saying bye to the stranger. Fabrizio spends the evening with a friend who is a cinema buff and recommends watching Rossellini's films. Fabrizio, clearly melancholic, doesn't follow his intellectual discussion about cinema. Back home, she easily seduces him again. She confesses that the stranger treated her like a whore. She talks about herself as if Fabrizio was her psychoanalyst. Gina takes Fabrizio and Cesare to the countryside, to visit her friend Puck, who lives near a pond and whose only company is a painter who paints the landscape. Puck has known Gina since she was a child and he always understood her. Puck confesses that he is bankrupt and is a spoiled landowner who never worked in his life. Fabrizio is disgusted by his meaningless life. Gina slaps Fabrizio in the face, and Puck walks Gina away. Puck laments that the woods of his land will be abandoned. We hear Fabrizio's thoughts: he suddenly realizes that Puck is what he will be at his age. Gina's vacation ends and she takes the train back home to the big city. After a communist event, Fabrizio and Cesare chat, while two girls discuss the news that Marilyn Monroe killed herself. Fabrizio is now skeptic about the whole communist program. He realizes that the "revolution" was just a vacation for him. And so a few days later he joins his fiance Clelia at the opera in a private booth while Cesare shares a booth with a group of comrades. He sees Gina sit next to his parents and hides behind Clelia. His mother tells Gina that Fabrizio has changed a lot and is about to get married. Fabrizio and Gina meet in the hall while the opera is still going on, and Gina seems still in love with him but she walks him back to his fiance. Fabrizio and Gina get married with a very traditional ceremony. Cesare reads "Moby Dick" at a class of schoolchildren. The creepy last scene shows Gina crying and hugging Fabrizio's teenage brother (her next lover?)

La crisi ideologica del giovane coglieva con acutezza i fermenti nell'aria, nel trapasso della sinistra dal fatiscente umore resistenziale all'utopistico ideale sessantottesco. Il film era pieno di citazioni autobiografiche e, anche se seguiva in certi punti la trama de "La certosa di Parma" di Stendhal, molto elaborato nel linguaggio cinematografico.

Partner (1968) riprende di nuovo il tema dell'impotenza rivoluzionaria dell'intellettuale borghese sviluppando una variazione su Il sosia di Dovstoevskij.

Il film televisivo La Strategia del Ragno/ The Spider's Stratagem (1970), un thriller politico ispirato da un racconto di Jorge Luis Borges ("Tema del Traidor y del Heroe", 1944), e` piu` influenzato da Hitchcock e Kurosawa che dalla nouvelle vague. The son of the martyr discovers that the murder was agreed and even choreographed by the victim and that the whole town became a stage on which the townfolks performed the false legend of a hero's assassination by evil fascists.

A man arrives at a small train station. He walks into a small town and looks for a hotel. Along the way he sees a street titled after Athos Magnani and a statue of the same person, with a writing that he was killed by fascists. And that's also the name of this man: he is the son. The hotel owner lends him a bicycle to visit Draifa, who lives out of town. Draifa was the lover of his father, at the same time that his mother was pregnant of him. Draifa is the one who found him and invited him: she wants him to find who shot his father in the back. The martyr has remained a local hero. Draifa tells Athos that a gypsy foretold the man's fate and that the cops found an unopened anonymous letter in the man's jacket also warning him of his death (both facts reminiscent of Shakespeare plays). She then faints. When she recovers, she kicks him out. There are no young people in that town, and the old people also seem to be mostly mentally insane. Draifa tells him that his father had one main enemy, the rich landowner Beccaccia. Athos bikes to his ranch but is escorted violently out by his thugs. A man approaches him introducing himself as a close friend of his father. A flashback shows the day that the townfolks learned a major news: Mussolini was coming to inaugurate a new opera house. Another friend of his father, who has to lock his sisters in their rooms whenever he has visitors, tells Athos that his father had planned a terrorist attack to kill Mussolini. Athos then interviews the third friend who was part of the conspiracy and is still living. He tells Athos that the fascists found the bomb and the plan had to be aborted. Athos becomes suspicious that his father was killed in that theater on that night, precisely when Mussolini was meant to be killed, during a performance of Verdi's "Rigoletto". Draifa is still resentful that Athos' father never left his mother for her, and instead left her for his mother. And she keeps fainting. Athos watches the friends drink and chat and is amused by their simple souls. including the tall tale of an escaped lion cooked and served to dinner like a roasted pig. Beccaccia in the empty theater tells him that the fascists didn't kill his father, and regrets that they didn't. Nobody knows where Draifa was that night, but Draifa claims that Athos' father himself told her to leave town. The three friends take Athos to a remote place and he barely runs away before they can beat him up. Athos now believes that his father was not betrayed by fascists but by the three friends. He decides to leave the town, where he only feels hostility. But he stays for a performance of Verdi's "Rigoletto" in the theater where his father was killed. Old women in the square tell him again of the mysterious gypsy and tell him again of the mysterious anonymous letter. During the performance the three friends confess that they killed his father, but also that his father had agreed to be killed. A flashback shows us that his father confessed having alerted the fascists with an anonymous phone called. The friends sentenced him to death for his betrayal but he volunteered to be killed in the theater and that fascists would be blamed for the murder, so that noone would learn of his betrayal. His father even architected the stories of the gypsy and of the letter, both inspired by Shakespeare plays ("Macbeth" and "Jilius Caesar"). Athos himself realizes that he himself is part of the fabrication: he is asked to give a speech during a ceremony unveiling a tombstone to his father, and repeats the legend knowing it is false. It is time to leave. He has to wait because the train is late. The film ends with a close-up of the vegetation that has submerged the railway tracks, a fact that seems to imply that no train has come or gone in many year.

L'uomo, omonimo di suo padre, ricalca la vicenda del "Sosia"; ma il film sottende anche una rievocazione critica dell'era fascista e un'indagine etnica che si avvalgono di una fluida affabulazione cinematografica.

Il Conformista (1970), lussureggiante e barocca versione da film noir del romanzo di Alberto Moravia, restaura completamente il cinema classico pur restando coerente con l'impegno civile con un'altra scettica incursione nell'era fascista. Nel torbido intrigo delle macerie borghesi Bertolucci cerca un addentellato fra delirante decadentismo sensuale e la moderna nevrosi dello sfascio, con l'aiuto di psicanalisi e figurativismo liberty (come sempre, la cinematografia di Vittorio Storaro e` protagonista). Purtroppo la trama (il romanzo stesso) e` sterile e un po' ridicola, con tutte quelle manie erotiche.

In the 1930s Marcello leaves a Paris hotel in a car driven by Manganiello. A flashback shows him in a recording studio in Italy, telling his blind friend Italo that he is getting married with Giulia. Italo then broadcasts a talk about the close ties between Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany. Marcello is applying for a job at a ministry of secret services. Then he visits his fiance Giulia, a spoiled woman who is madly in love with him, and has lunch with her and her mother. Her mother just receives an anonymous letter warning her that Marcello's father is confined in a mental asylum due to a venereal disease that the writer claims to be hereditary. They tear up the letter. Marcello is followed by special agent Manganiello to his mother's run-down villa. His mother is in bed half-naked with three puppies. She talks about her lover. She wants to sell the house so she can travel. Marcello tells Manganiello that his mother is a morphine addict and a man called Ki/Hemlock sells her the morphine and controls her: Manganiello beats him up. Manganiello gives Marcello the instructions for his first assignment: on his way to Paris he has to meet a man called Raul. But first Marcello takes his mother to visit his father at the mental asylum. Marcello needs his father's consent to get married. Back to the present, Marcello and Manganiello argue over their mission: Marcello is visibly upset by the situation. In the flashback Marcello tells a priest about a chaffeur who molested him as a child and that Marcello killed him with the chaffeur's gun and made it look like a suicide. He tells the priest that he had sexual relationships with men until he was 18. The wedding takes place just before his mission to Paris. After the wedding, on the train towards their honeymoon, his wife Giulia confesses to him that she's not a virgin: she had sex with the 60-year-old man Perpuzio. He doesn't care. He gets off the train to meet with Raul. Raul orders him to kill an intellectual, prof. Quadri, his old teacher at the university, an antifascist activist who now lives in exile in Paris. Once in Paris, Marcello makes an appointment with the professor and heads there with his wife, leaving behind Manganiello. Marcello is immediately struck by the beauty of the professor's much younger wife, Anna, while she befriends Giulia and offers to take her shopping. Marcello tells the professor that he has become a fascist, and tells Anna that she reminds him of a prostitute. Anna lets Marcello kiss her. Later he even asks her to leave Europe for Brazil with him, but she tells him that she despises fascists... and then she strips naked for him. Later Anna takes Giulia shopping... and they have sex. A street vendor selling flowers and her two children sing a communist anthem and follow Marcello and Anna when they walk out together. Anna is cheating her husband with both Marcello and Giulia, and invites both to her country house. Anna and Giulia take their husbands to a dancehall, followed by Manganiello. The professor asks Marcello a favor: to deliver a letter to a friend in Italy, a favor that could cost him dearly. Marcello refuses but, shaken in his beliefs, Marcello meets Manganiello in the restrooms and returns the gun. The professor then admits that it was just a test: the letter is blank. If Marcello were a true fascist, he would have reported the addressee of the letter to the fascists. But Marcello gives Manganiello the address of the professor's country house and tells him to meet in the morning to carry out the assassination. Meanwhile the wives are dancing wildly with the other patrons of the dancehall, and Manganiello is watching everybody from a table at the corner. Marcello then tells Anna not to go with her husband to the country house, but the following morning Anna still goes. Back to the present, we now understand that Manganiello and Marcello are following the car of the professor and Anna. Anna notices the car following them, and then they are blocked by a car placed in the middle of the road with an apparently unconscious driver. It is an ambush. The professor is attacked and killed by several men. Anna watches powerless. The men then try to kill her but she is saved by her dog. She runs towards Marcello's car and sees that Marcello is in it. Terrified she runs into the woods, chased by the hitmen who eventually kill her. Manganiello is disgusted that Marcello didn't kill her. The film then fast-forwards to 1943 when the radio announces that Mussolini has been forced to resign. Marcello and Giulia have a little girl. Marcello's blind friend Italo asks to meet Marcello at night, and Anna is afraid. Giulia now reveals that Anna told her that Marcello worked for the secret services of the fascists. All those years she didn't mention to Marcello that she knew. As Marcello and Italo walk around Rome, they see motorcycles dragging a colossal head of Mussolini. Suddenly Marcello recognizes the chaffeur that obviously didn't die when Marcello the child shot him: the chaffeur is trying to seduce a young man. The chaffeur doesn't recognize the adult Marcello. Marcello shouts to the passers-by that the chaffeur is a fascist, a homosexual and killed the professor. Marcello, now out of his mind, shouts that Italo too is a fascist and then abandons him while protesters march singing anthems in favor of the king who fired Mussolini. Marcello remains alone with the young man that the chaffeur was trying to seduce.
Last Tango In Paris/ Ultimo Tango a Parigi (1972) is first and foremost an exercise in time lines. There are two stories, one of which is in the past and the other in the present, but for a while the time perspective is left vague. Secondly, it is a film about identity: the American expatriate never had an identity, and the loss of his wife has simply brought that crisis to the forefront. Thirdly, it is a meditation on the decadence of moral values, as the spoiled girl betrays her upbringing and her fiance` and the widow betrays the memory of his wife, and everybody seems to betray each other. Last but not least, it is a film about making a film (the girl's biography), and it sounds like a parody of neorealism, to which genre this film reacts. On a bridge in Paris a girl wrapped in a fur walks by a dejected middle-aged man who is staggering. She is looking for an apartment and later she walks into an empty apartment. There he is, the same middle-aged man, who looks like a drunken bum. They hardly speak but he corners her and they make wild love. Then she runs away. At the station she meets her boyfriend, Tom, who is an spiring film-maker and has just decided to make a film about her. His friends and assistants film everything Tom and Jeanne do.
The time changes. In another hotel a woman is cleaning the room where the middle-aged man's wife, Rosa, committed suicide. He is shocked but rather cynical.
Jeanne returns to the empty flat for another sexual rendesvouz with Paul. They never introduce each other and Paul does not want to know her name or anything else of her life. He wants to limit their relationship to the physical contact.
Back to the hotel. Rosa's mother arrives for the funeral and tries to take charge of the traditional function, but Paul opposes the hipocrisy of the Catholic rite. The mother fears his sudden bursts of rage. It sounds like he holds her responsible for her daughter's suicide. THe guests of the hotel are spying on their conversation and he shuts their doors one by one.
Back to the apartment. The two anonymous lovers are hugging naked on the floor. She then joins again her boyfriend who keeps filming her. This time they investigate her childhood in the rural town. Tom is obsessed with learning details about her past, as much as Paul does not want to hear anything about her life. When Paul and Jeanne meet again, Jeanne is so frustrated by his indifference that she masturbates alone in bed. He is crying in a corner.
Paul is not kind to his mother in law. He has been the husband of her daughter for five years. The daughter was the landlady of the hotel and he was a guest. The woman had a lover, Marcel, who lives in one of the rooms. Paul knows him and seems to be in good terms.
Jeanne is tired of her boyfriend and would like to leave him and stop the film. Tom and Jeanne fight in the metro, but they soon make peace. Paul treats Jeanne like a sex slave. He forces butter up her ass and then sodomizes her on the floor. His manners are becoming brutal. In the meantime the boyfriend proposes formally and she is ecstatic. Their friends are filming again. She finds a rat in the apartment and decides to leave Paul, but Paul has control over her and forces her into more and more vulgar rituals.
In the hotel Paul visits the corpse of his wife and talks to her, sincerely suffering.
When Jeanne returns to the apartment, Paul has disappeared and the apartment is vacant. Jeanne is desperate, but calls Tom and tells him that she found an apartment for them to move in after the wedding. Tom tells her that the film is finished. Jeanne meets Paul again, who finally reveals something of his life (at least that he is a widower and owns a hotel). She confesses her engagement to Tom. Drunk, they ruin a ballroom dance context. Paul is suddenly eager to start a new life and now wants to convince her to live with him. While he is talking a shot kills him. He has barely time to talk to the balcony and take a look at Paris. She still has the gun in her hand. And is beginning to think what she will tell the police, a fabrication that also happens to be the truth: she didn't know the man, the man wanted to have sex with her,...
L'adesione alle forme dello spettacolo internazionale diventa esplicita e irreversibile con Last Tango In Paris/ Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972), storia di un rapporto sessuale nato dal caso e protratto con disperato attaccamento alla vita come esorcismo del passato; parabola psicanalitica sul significato dell'erotismo, frutto del caos esistenziale e annunzio della morte. Un uomo di mezza età (Brando) e una giovane scapestrata si incontrano in un appartamento di Parigi. Colti da un raptus erotico, si amano a dirotto senza voler sapere nulla l'uno dell'altra. Poi si lasciano, ma promettono di rivedersi. Lui è americano, vedovo della padrona d'albergo che l'aveva salvato da un naufragio e che, dopo averlo tradito con un cliente, si è suicidata. Lei è una ricca ereditiera fidanzata a un regista che sta girando un reportage su di lei. La vita tragica di lui e quella fatua di lei procedono parallelamente, incontrandosi soltanto in quella cameretta buia, dove esplodono i loro istinti animaleschi, protesi ad impossessarsi visceralmente e a sfogare l'incomunicabile in un processo di reciproca conoscienza attraverso la carne. I due vanno avanti così, fra nausea e passione, finchè lei, a pochi giorni dal suo matrimonio, decide di lasciarlo. Lui però le si avvinghia disperatamente, la insegue ubriaco fino a casa e per liberarsi di lui la ragazza deve sparargli. Alla polizia dirà di aver ucciso uno sconosciuto per legittima difesa, ed è la verità.

Nel film ritornano tutti i temi di Bertolucci: il doppio dovstoevskiano portato al massimo della schizofrenia, l'ambiguità (amore-odio, passione-nausea, amore-morte) nella sua forma più straziante, la nevrosi sessuale nei suoi aspetti più morbosi e degradanti.

If English is your first language and you would like to translate my old Italian text, contact me.

Novecento/ 1900 (1976), in due parti per un totale di cinque ore, è un film che si rifà ai monumentali romanzi generazionali ("Il Mulino del Po" di Bacchelli)per narrare la storia di mezzo secolo di civiltà padana attraverso le vicende parallele e di un padrone dalla nascita nello stesso giorno, attraverso le prime sfide infantili, in realtà amici, il suicidio del nonno.

Nascono nello stesso giorno, uno, Alfredo, figlio del padrone della fattoria, l'altro, Olmo, figlio naturale di uno dei braccianti. Olmo cresce selvaggio, solitario, senza paura. Alfredo è un damerino. Olmo vive nella baracca affollata da tutti i poveri contadini. Alfredo cresce nel lusso della casa padronale. Ma nella casa padronale regna la discordia fra il nonno, vecchio reprobo all'antica, e il padre, moderno, educato e fautore della disciplina. Il vecchio s'impicca dopo aver fallito un atto di libidine su una contadina ragazzina. Il figlio Giovanni falsifica il testamento in modo da figurare erede unico e diseredare l'altro figlio, che si è sempre disinteressato della terra. Giovanni si rivela un padrone ben più avido e crudele del vecchio. I contadini scendono in sciopero e il nonno di Olmo, cresciuto con il vecchio padrone, muore mentre si comincia a parlare di socialismo, e mentre stanno per essere introdotte le macchine: trattrici, falciatrici, etc.

Dopo la guerra Olmo e Alfredo tornano, ormai giovanotti, amici per la pelle. Alfredo si ribella all'insensibilità del padre, un vecchio tiranno che tratta i contadini come schiavi. Uno solo dei contadini è entusiata del progresso, delle macchine, del capitalismo: è il nuovo capo. Una rifugiata maestra veneta, giovane, attraente, determinata, ha lo stesso carattere ribelle e impulsivo di Olmo. I contadini vengono sfrattati, Olmo e la ragazza organizzano la resistenza, ma il padrone fa intervenire l'esercito e poi le squadre fasciste, mentre Olmo e Alfredo fanno le prime esperienze sessuali insieme (vanno a letto con una prostituta che viene colta da crisi epilettica). Alfredo svergina una vanesia e altezzosa aristocratica francese che finge di essere cieca e si lamenta di continuo delle sue sventure. Qualcuno dà fuoco al casolare dei contadini, bruciando vive diverse persone. Olmo e la ragazza organizzano un funerale di protesta. È il capo dei contadini che guida le spedizioni fasciste: per dimostrare la sua bravura schiaccia la testa a un gatto. Alfredo passa più tempo con lo zio, dedito a bagordi, donne e droga, che con il padre. La ragazza di Olmo muore partorendo, il padre di Alfredo muore lasciando Alfredo padrone. Alfredo sposa la francese, odiata dalla sorella, una vipera che va d'accordo soltanto con il fascista (presentatosi in camicia nera allo sposalizio), del quale diventa l'amante. Un bambino li scopre mentre fanno l'amore e il fascista gli sfascia la testa facendolo saltare per le stanze. Quando il corpo viene ritrovato il fascista accusa Olmo dell'omicidio e i camerati lo massacrano sotto gli occhi di Alfredo incapace di intervenire. Per quest'atto di codardia lo zio gli toglie il saluto. Olmo non consente a sua figlia di frequentare la moglie di Alfredo, che le faceva da maestra. Alfredo diventa sempre più come suo padre. La moglie è prigioniera della casa, le cui chiavi sono tenute dalla cognata, sempre più demoniaca. Alfredo è succube del fascista e della sorella, ed è come drogato dalla sua nuova posizione di padrone. La moglie, sinceramente affezionata alla bambina di Olmo, la va sempre a trovare.

La sorella di Alfredo e il fascista ammazzano per puro diletto una povera vedova infilzandola sulle punte della cancellata. Olmo rinfaccia ad Alfredo di essere diventato uno di loro, ma Alfredo gli rinfaccia anche di averlo sempre protetto dall'arresto: è ancora uno dei pochi comunisti ancora in libertà. Olmo scatena le folle contro il fascista, ma poi deve darsi alla macchia. Eccitata dalla notizia, la moglie di Alfredo se ne va. Alfredo licenzia il fascista, ma è troppo tardi: quando lui torna a casa lei non c'è più. Il fascista si vendica sui comunisti, rastrellando e sparando a quelli che si ribellano. I contadini impugnano le armi.

Alla fine si torna alla scena iniziale, con il fascismo che è crollato, il capo dei contadini infilzato con le forche dalle donne mentre tenta di scappare (la vipera viene anche picchiata e arrestata) e il ragazzo che si fa chiamare Olmo che sta per giustiziare Alfredo. Finale didascalico di un ideologico imbarazzante da realismo socialista o Brecht: il fascista e la vipera chiusi nel recinto con i porci; nel villaggio torna la concordia, si danza fra le tombe dei caduti; il fascista viene giustiziato, la vipera viene lasciata libera, anche se supplice di essere uccisa.

Olmo ritorna; Alfredo è ancora prigioniero del ragazzino nelle stalle e finalmente lo portano fuori da Olmo, il quale decide di processarlo in pubblico; i contadini si alternano all'accusa intrattenuti da musica festosa (processano il concetto di padrone), arringa finale di Olmo, condanna a morte, arrivano i partigiani, euforia, consegnano le armi, abbandonano Alfredo solo nel piazzale, Olmo torna e i due si accapigliano nel piazzale; ultime scene: vecchi, si picchiano ancora.

Numerose scene corali di vita contadina, forse il meglio del film; è un affresco epico che sfiora il kolossal nelle scene di massa, culmine della svolta spettacolare del regista, ma nei quali permangono due componenti fondamentali del suo cinema: l'autobiografismo (o perlomeno l'ambientazione nelle sue terre d'origine) e la riscoperta del periodo fascista. La saga storica trova i suoi punti di maggior presa nella descrizione dei conflitti ambigui, degli intrecci psicologici, delle contraddizioni ideologiche. Nel suo tentativo di far cinema d'autore senza negarsi al pubblico, Bertolucci hollywoodizza la Pianura Padana.

La Luna/ The Moon (1979) ricorre addirittura al melodramma Verdi-ano, annacquato al solito da forti dosi di decadentismo e psicanalisi, e corredato come Novecento da una fitta corte di macchiette; E la storia di un incesto, di un figlio che vuole impersonare (resuscitare?) suo padre, e poi (scoprendo che non era il vero padre) vuole trovare suo padre e costringerlo a tornare da sua madre (e il suo vero padre e` egli stesso innamorato della sua madre). C'e` anche un terzo padre: la madre, cantante lirica, dice al figlio che Verdi e` come suo padre, e visita il vecchio maestro di canto che e` anche lui una figura paterna. Bertolucci indugia un po' troppo sugli aspetti sessuali e la storia finisce per sembrare un pretesto per parlare di un argomento tabu`, l'incesto.

A woman is playing with a little child at a beach villa. She dances the twist with a man. The child cries. Then the film opens in New York. The woman, Caterina, is having dinner with her husband Douglas and her son Joe. Joe would like to follow his mother who has to travel for her job: she's an opera singer. Then Joe tries to convince his father to stay home with him and let mother travel alone. His father goes outside to park the car in the garage and instead dies of a sudden heart attack. At the funeral Caterina decides to take Joe to Rome, where she used to live. In Rome Joe makes friends who do drugs and in particular befriends Arianna. They kiss in a movie theater while the theater is showing a Marilyn Monroe film. They are both virgin. They are about to have sex when he sees the moon which reminds him of his mother's performance. He rushes to the theater to watch her sing in Verdi's " Trovatore". He walks backstage and then waits for her in her dressing room. She never sang so well: Douglas' death made her a better singer. But she forgot Joe's birthday, and her friend Marina has to remind her. The following day Caterina throws a birthday party for Joe and invites three street singers to join them. Ashamed that his mother is dancing like a teenager, Joe grabs Arianna and leaves the party before the cake is served. When his mother finds him with the girl, she gets mad at him and then he gets mad at her. While they argue, she realizes that he has marks on his arm: he has become an heroin addict. An homosexual takes Joe to an ice cream parlor. Joe confesses to his mother that he misses his father. He has a nervous breakdown and she calls a doctor, who doesn't want to be paid but takes a picture of her with an instant camera. She tells her best friend Marina that she doesn't want to sing anymore and then breaks into tears. She meets Mustafa, Joe's drug dealer, an Arab immigrant, who is a devout Muslim but does not hesitate to get people hooked on drugs. He offers her tea and tells her that Joe is a lonely boy. He also tells her that Joe has been stealing money from her to buy the drugs. The good news is that Mustafa has made enough money to return to his country. Back home, she is surprised to find Joe who is cooking dinner for her. He dresses up like an elegant gentleman and asks her to do the same, as if it was a hot date. To get closer to Joe, she even buys heroin for him. He has run out of hypodermic needles and cuts his arm with a fork. To calm him down, she masturbates him until he falls asleep. She then travels to visit her old music teacher, who is confined to a wheelchair and doesn't recognize people. He is the one who discovered her voice and she has come to tell him that she doesn't want to sing anymore. He doesn't talk to her but plays a record of her singing an aria from Mozart's "CosŤ Fan Tutte". She drives back home with Joe and stops at a railway crossing. She tells Joe that it's the very place where his father first kissed her, and he kisses her. She then searches for the place where they used to live before Joe was born. On the way she stops by Verdi's villa, but Joe doesn't care. They get a flat tire. She changes the tire and then he steals the car. She has to walk along a countryside road until her feet start bleeding. A man gives her a ride until she finds her car at a gas station. Her savior, who boasts of being a communist, and her walk inside the nearby restaurant where Joe is chatting with the owner. His mother flirts with the man to make Joe jealous, but then she takes a room for herself and the boy, and they have passionate sex, but then he insults her again. She then tells him that Douglas was not his real father, just a stepfather. She drives him to the school where his real father works. It's the last day of school before the summer holidays. Joe follows the teacher to his house and then introduces himself as a friend of his son and tells him that his son overdosed and died, trying to shame him for abandoning his son. Joe looks for his mother in the Roman ruins (the Terme di Caracalla) where the orchestra is rehearsing an opera (Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera"). Caterina is not singing: she is only reciting. Joe and Caterina hugs and explains to Joe that his father didn't want her because he was attached to his mother (another incestuous relationship?) Joe's father shows up and asks Caterina if it is true that their son is dead, and Caterina tells him the truth. Joe sees them and claps smiling. The father walks towards Joe and slaps him in the face for the cruel joke, but then sits near him and smiles at him. Her mother continues the rehearsal and starts singing. While he believes that Caterina's husband, Douglas , is his biological father, the truth is that Joe was sired by Caterina's former lover, who is now living in Italy and working as a schoolteacher. With some sort of closure achieved for the boy, he returns to his mother, who is preparing for an opera. Embracing, they reaffirm their love for each other, and together the son and his father, who has come to watch the performance, and who now knows Joe's true identity as his child, hear Caterina sing at her very best. Bertolucci si sta spostando in un territorio già conteso da Bergman e Antonioni.

La Tragedia di un Uomo Ridicolo/ Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981) è un grottesco volutamente confuso e aggiorna ancor più i temi del regista all'Italia reale, quella del terrorismo e dello sfascio.

Un industriale della solita provincia padana, un uomo onesto venuto dal nulla, ha un figlio terrorista e quando lo vede rapire da tre uomini mascherati non sa se si tratta di un vero sequestro o di una messinscena; riluttante a vendere il frutto di tanti sacrifici e convinto che il figlio sia morto usa i soldi del possibile riscatto (prestati da amici e parenti alla moglie) per salvare la fabbrica in crisi; ma il figlio fa ritorno e l'industriale deve confrontarsi con la propria coscienza.

Un uomo tragicamente ridicolo, nella più classica tradizione dovstoevskiana, e un forte senso di ambiguità.

The Sheltering Sky (1990) was an adaptation of Paul Bowles' 1949 novel.

Little Buddha (1993) is very minor film in Bertolucci's filmography, a feel-good comedy that mainly shows Bertolucci's passion for the human and natural Himalayan landscape.

A Tibetan monk who now lives in America informs the Tibetan lama Norbu that he has been visited in his dreams by the spirit of a dead lama who pointed him towards a house where a child lives. He believes the child, Jessie, could be the reincarnation of the dead lama. The lama flies to America and meets the family and becomes a friend of the child. The parents don't see anything wrong with the friendship, although they are shocked to hear that the monks think the child could be the reincarnation of a dead lama. In the meantime, the child's father is in business with an old friend, Evan, who is in trouble. Norbu invites the parents to Katmandu to find out if Jessie is really the dead lama. There are two other candidates and only in Katmandy they will be tested together. The father is initially reluctant, but Evan commits suicide and this changes his life. Father and child leave first for Bhutan and then for Nepal. Jessie meets the other two children, a boy and a girl. The three children play like... children but Narby is dying and needs to find out who is the reincarnation. All three children pass all the tests, so the oracle chooses them all: the dead lama always had a sense of humour and somehow decided to reincarnate three times. The children are consecrated with a pompous ceremony. Norbu dies. Jessie goes back home with the ashes of Norbu. His mother is pregnant with a new baby... could it be Norbu's reincarnation?
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Emanuele Carrafa)

Piccolo Buddha (1993) è un film decisamente minore all'interno della filmografia di Bertolucci, una commedia dei buoni sentimenti che principalmente dimostra la passione di Bertolucci per i paesaggi umani e naturali dell'Himalaya.

Un monaco tibetano residente in America informa il lama Norbu che in sogno ha ricevuto la visita dello spirito di un lama morto che gli ha indicato la casa in cui vive un bambino. Egli crede che il bambino, Jesse, potrebbe essere l'incarnazione del lama morto. Il lama parte per l'America per incontrare la famiglia e fa amicizia con Jesse. I genitori di quest'ultimo non ci trovano nulla di male in questa amicizia; tuttavia sono shockati di sentire che il monaco crede che il loro bambino potrebbe essere la reincarnazione di un lama. Intanto, il padre del ragazzino è in affari con un vecchio amico, Evan, che è nei guai. Lama Norbu invita i genitori a Katmandu per scoprire se veramente Jesse è l'incarnazione del lama morto. Ci sono altri due candidati e solo a Katmandu potranno essere sottoposti a delle prove tutti insieme. All'inizio il padre è riluttante, ma Evan si suicida e ciò cambia la sua vita.Padre e figlio partono dapprima per il Bhutan e poi vanno in Nepal. Jesse incontra gli altri due bambini, un maschio e una femmina. I tre bambini si comportano da...bambini quali sono, ma Norbu sta morendo ed ha bisogno di sapere quale di loro è la reincarnazione del lama. Tutti e tre superano tutte le prove, così l'oracolo li sceglie tutti: il defunto lama era solito scherzare sempre e in qualche modo forse aveva deciso di reincarnarsi in tre persone diverse. I bambini vengono consacrati durante una cerimonia sfarzosa. Norbu muore. Jesse torna a casa con le ceneri di Norbu. Sua madre è incinta...potrebbe trattarsi della reincarnazione di lama Norbu?

L'Ultimo Imperatore/ The Last Emperor (1987) follows sixty years of Chinese history, staging the last emperor of the Qin dynasty. His court's opulence, the circus of eunuchs and servants, frames the decadence of the nation. Visually hypnotic and paranoid (thanks to Storari's cinematography). A well-dressed man comes out of a crowded train. The crowd is escorted by soldiers to the hall of the train station. People try to pay their respects to the well-dressed man, but the soldiers pull them back. The man walks to the restrooms and slits his wrists.
A flashback shows what happened in 1908. Pu Yi inherited the throne of China at the age of three, and was raised in the "Forbidden City", with its majestic thousand-year old rituals.
The flashback is interrupted when we see the soldiers saving the man who tried to kill himself and accusing him of being a criminal.
Soon the child's conditions begins to look more like an imprisonment than a reign: he can't leave the Forbidden City (which is the real protagonist of the first part of the film).
After showing the child as a young man imprisoned by the Chinese revolutionaries, the film shifts gear. The narrating voice of a British man tells how the new China had become as corrupt as the old China. it is the voice of Reginald, the tutor hired to teach the emperor the manners of the West. The "Forbidden City" is no longer forbidden to anyone, the empire having collapsed. The emperor, a teenager, realizes that he is just a puppet, and knows that there is turmoil in the country, and dreams of leaving the Forbidden City (he even tries to climb over the roofs and later buys a ticket to Oxford).
Instead, the court weds him to a teenager. He then takes a concubine. Becoming more and more restless, the emperor begins to challenge the traditions of the court. The court retaliates by burning down a building, and the emperor has to ask for the army of the Republic to help restore order.
As he is interrogated by the communists, the former emperor recounts how the communists invaded the "Forbidden City" and gave him one hour to vacate it with his wife and his concubine. The emperor finally sees the world outside the "Forbidden City". He settled in another city and for a while enjoed the life of a decadent western gentleman. The emperor's wife is introduced to opium by a lesbian Japanese spy. The emperor is largely forgotten by the Chinese. The only ones interested in him are the Japanese, who install him as the puppet ruler of Manchuria. In Manchuria he and his women return to the atmosphere of the court, surrounded by the international aristocracy, except that the concubine has become an unhappy neurotic and the wife an opium addict.
(A flash shows the emperor being imprisoned, for the first time separated from his women).
As the Japanese disarm his army, and he realizes that he is, yet again, a powerless figurehead, a prisoner in his own castle, the emperor's only hope rests in the child that his wife is expecting. Unfortunately, the baby is born dead.
When World War II ends with the Japanese defeat, the Russians capture the emperor and turn him over to the Chinese.
We have already seen the scenes when the emperor was interrogated and "re-educated". The film fast forwards to his release from prison. He becomes a gardener in Beijing. For the first time in his life, he has to take care of himself. And for the first time in his life he has to share the world with a gigantic crowd of ordinary people, riding a bicycle just like them.
The students leading Mao's cultural revolution have arrested a teacher and he tries in vain to defend him. Now an old man, the former emperor walks into the Forbidden City, which is now open to tourists.
The ethnic scene (a quick overview of Chinese imperial traditions) border on the ridiculous, especially at the beginning, and the action is terribly slow. The film is often saved by the cinematography, which is, after all, the whole point of the film. The counterpoint of the flashbacks (back and forth in time) is not symphonic as intended, albeit a random hodgepodge of scenes. All done and said, this is not any different from the "colossals" of the past.

Bertolucci died in 2018.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessandra Blasi )

L'Ultimo Imperatore (1987) copre sessant'anni di storia cinese e ha per protagonista l'ultimo imperatore della dinastia Ching, divenuto poi l'imperatore della colonia giapponese e vissuto ancora dopo la Rivoluzione. L'opulenza della corte, il circo di eunuchi e servitori, fa da cornice alla decadenza del Paese. Ipnotico e ossessivo dal punto di vista visivo (grazie a Storaro).

Un uomo ben vestito esce da un treno affollato. La folla e` scortata da soldati fino alla hall della stazione ferroviaria. La gente tenta di rendere i propri omaggi all`uomo, ma i soldati la spingono indietro. L`uomo si ritira, e tenta ti tagliarsi i polsi. Un flashback mostra cosa e` successo nel 1908. Pu Yi eredita il trono di Cina all`eta` di tre anni, e viene allevato nella "Citta` Proibita", con i suoi maestosi rituali millenari. Il flashback si interrompe quando si vedono i soldati intervenuti a salvare l`uomo che aveva provato ad uccidersi, e lo accusano di essere un criminale. Presto le condizioni del bambino iniziano a sembrare piu` simili ad un imprigionamento che a un regno: egli non puo` lasciare la Citta` Proibita [che e`la vera protagonista della prima parte del film]. Dopo aver mostrato il bambino come un giovane uomo imprigionato dai rivoluzionari Cinesi, il film cambia marcia. La voce narrante di un Inglese racconta come la nuova Cina fosse diventata corrotta quanto la vecchia. E` la voce di Reginald, il tutore assunto per insegnare all`Imperatore la cultura occidentale. La Citta` Proibita non e` piu` proibita a nessuno, essendo l`Impero crollato. L`Imperatore, adolescente, realizza di essere giusto un burattino, e` a conoscenza del tumulto che c`e` nel Paese, e sogna di lasciare la Citta` Proibita [cerca anche di scavalcare i tetti e compra un biglietto per Oxford]. Invece, la corte combina un matrimonio per lui con una giovane donna. In seguito egli prende una concubina. Diventando sempre piu` inquieto, l`Imperatore inizia a sfidare le tradizioni della corte. E questa contraccambia mettendo fuoco a un edificio, e l`Imperatore deve chiedere all`esercito della Repubblica aiuto per ristabilire l`ordine. Interrogato dai comunisti, l`ex-Imperatore racconta come i comunisti invasero la Citta` Proibita dandogli soltanto un`ora di tempo per abbandonarla con moglie e concubina. L`Imperatore finalmente vede il mondo fuori dalla Citta` Proibita. Egli si sistema in un`altra citta` e per un poco si gode la vita alla stregua di un decadente uomo dell`Ovest. La moglie viene iniziata all`oppio da una spia giapponese lesbica. L`imperatore viene in gran parte dimenticato dai Cinesi. Gli unici interessati a lui sono i Giapponesi, che lo insediano come sovrano- burattino in Manchuria. Li`, lui e la sua donna ritornano all`atmosfera della corte, circondati dall` aristocrazia internazionale, unica pecca il fatto che la concubina e` diventata una infelice nevrotica e la moglie una oppiomane. [un flash mostra l`Imperatore imprigionato e per la prima volta separato da sua moglie]. I Giapponesi disarmano il suo esercito, e l`Imperatore realizza quello che e`, ancora una volta, un prestanome senza potere, un prigioniero nel suo stesso castello, cosi` la sua unica speranza rimane il bambino che sua moglie sta aspettando. Sfortunatamente, il bimbo nasce morto. Quando finisce la II guerra mondiale con la sconfitta Giapponese, i Russi catturano l`Imperatore e lo consegnano ai Cinesi. Si e` gia` vista la scena dell`Imperatore interrogato e "ri-educato". Il film va velocemente avanti fino alla sua uscita dalla prigione. Egli diventa un giardiniere in Beijing. Per la prima volta nella sua vita deve prendersi cura di se stesso. E per la prima volta deve dividere il mondo con una gigantesca folla di gente ordinaria, pedalando la stessa bicicletta. Gli studenti che conducono la rivoluzione culturale di Mao hanno preso un insegnante ed egli cerca invano di difenderlo. Adesso un uomo vecchio, l`ex-Imperatore, passeggia nella Citta` Proibita, ormai aperta alla curiosita` dei turisti. La scena etnica [una veloce panoramica sulle tradizioni imperiali Cinesi] confina con il ridicolo, specialmente all`inizio, e l`azione e` terribilmente lenta. Il film e` spesso salvato dalla cinematografia che e`, dopo tutto, il punto cruciale del film. Il contrappunto dei flashbacks [avanti e indietro in tempo] non e` cosi` sinfonico come da intenzione, nonostante una confusione casuale delle scene. Tutto sommato, questo film non differisce poi molto dai "colossals' del passato.
Io Ballo da Sola/ Stealing Beauty (1996) is a mediocre romantic comedy.

L'Assedio/ Besieged (1998) adapted and expanded James Lasdun's short story "The Siege".

I Sognatori/ The Dreamers (2003) adapted Gilbert Adair's novel "The Holy Innocents".

Io e Te/ Me and You (2012) was an adaptation of Niccolo Ammaniti's novel.

Bertolucci died in 2018.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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