22 February 2012 4:34 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The Italian director's 1970 expressionist masterpiece offered a blueprint for a new kind of Hollywood film, which is why Coppola, Spielberg, Scorsese and co owe him a huge debt

Bernardo Bertolucci's expressionist masterpiece of 1970, The Conformist, is the movie that plugs postwar Italian cinema firmly and directly into the emerging 1970s renaissance in Hollywood film-making. Its account of the neuroses and self-loathing of a sexually confused would-be fascist (Jean-Louis Trintignant) aching to fit in in 1938 Rome, who is despatched to Paris to murder his former, anti-fascist college professor, was deemed an instant classic on release.

It was, and is, a highly self-conscious and stylistically venturesome pinnacle of late modernism, drawing from the full range of recent Italian movie history: a little neo-neorealism, a lot of stark and blinding Antonioni-style mise-en-scène, some moments redolent of Fellini. And it was all framed within an evocation of the frivolous fascist-era film-making style derided »

- John Patterson

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