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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.

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