What You Need To Know:
(H, VVV, SS, NNN, A, D, Ho, AB) Humanism, with a generous dose of Freud and Marx; 2 shootings & 1 brutal stabbing (repeatedly with scalpels); 1 adulterous relationship depicted; 4 scenes with female nudity; social drinking throughout; 1 scene where morphine use is implied; 2 instances of attempted homosexual seduction, one involving a young boy (though not graphic but still disturbing); and, stereotyping of Christians (Catholics in particular) as self-righteous prudes unable to dispense grace.
Set in 1930s Italy, THE CONFORMIST tells the story of Marcello Clerici, a young man determined to normalize his adult life and purge memories of a childhood homosexual encounter. Seemingly well on his way after joining Mussolini’s secret police, he falls for Anna, the wife of a leftist college professor he has been ordered to kill. Forced to choose between the normalcy he has achieved and the isolation that would result from taking a stand, Marcello chooses conformity and watches as Anna and her husband are ambushed and killed.
Bertolucci’s passion for visual lyricism makes every scene in THE CONFORMIST burst with color, style and symbolism. Regrettably, the director’s over-stylization results in scenes that, though powerful and moving by themselves, do not work well together, leaving the viewer gasping for information. It is almost as if every scene was conceived in a vacuum without any thought of how it would fit with the rest of the story. Thus, though visually stunning, the film never quite coalesces into the powerful story the author intended. Furthermore, like all Bertolucci films, THE CONFORMIST is loaded with all forms of sexual situations and leftist political metaphors and is definitely for the mature audience.