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Italy, 1970 (MIFF 1971, Programme 12)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Self-preservation in the face of, and conformity to the dictates and ideologies of political power have made cowards of countless numbers of solid citizens.

Just such a coward is Marcello who has just joined the fascists in Mussolini's Italy of the 1930's. The fascist espionage agency dispatches him to France to assassinate a left-wing college professor under whom he once studied. He combines the assignment with his honeymoon. On arrival in France, the awesomeness of his task reinforces his cowardice: his mind is riddled with fears and doubts, and he procrastinates. He is also diverted by his attraction to the intended victim's wife.

The plot serves as a dramatic frame upon which hangs a bagful of interwoven themes, including Marcello's youthful encounter with homosexuality.

See also...


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Italy, 1964
Before the Revolution is both personal and autobiographical. Its title comes from Talleyrand's famous remark: "Only those who lived before the Revolution knew how sweet life could be." The Talleyrand… More »


Italy, 1970
As in his 1971 Festival film, The Conformist, in The Spider's Strategy, Bertolucci again tackles a political subject, this time about the unravelling of the mystery of a political assassination. ... … More »


Italy, 1979
Bernardo Bertolucci's new films always come as shocks More than most film-makers, each new film is a reaction against his previous work. Since he got into his international stride with The Conformist… More »


Germany, 1979
When Nicholas Ray and Wim Wenders decided to make a film together, Ray had undergone surgery for cancer. Ray's last completed feature was in 1 962, ending a tumultuous and extraordinarily productive … More »

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