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.