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Before the Revolution (1964)
"Prima della rivoluzione" (original title)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  12 May 1964 (Italy)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,254 users  
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The study of a youth on the edge of adulthood and his aunt, ten years older. Fabrizio is passionate, idealistic, influenced by Cesare, a teacher and Marxist, engaged to the lovely but ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adriana Asti ...
Gina
Francesco Barilli ...
Fabrizio
Allen Midgette ...
Agostino
Morando Morandini ...
Cesare
Cristina Pariset ...
Clelia
Cecrope Barilli ...
Puck
Evelina Alpi ...
The little girl
Gianni Amico ...
A friend
Goliardo Padova ...
The painter
Guido Fanti ...
Enore
Enrico Salvatore ...
The priest
Amelia Bordi ...
The mother
Domenico Alpi ...
The father
Iole Lunardi ...
The grandmother
Antonio Maghenzani ...
The brother
Edit

Storyline

The study of a youth on the edge of adulthood and his aunt, ten years older. Fabrizio is passionate, idealistic, influenced by Cesare, a teacher and Marxist, engaged to the lovely but bourgeois Clelia, and stung by the drowning of his mercurial friend Agostino, a possible suicide. Gina is herself a bundle of nervous energy, alternately sweet, seductive, poetic, distracted, and unhinged. They begin a love affair after Agostino's funeral, then Gina confuses Fabrizio by sleeping with a stranger. Their visits to Cesare and then to Puck, one of Gina's older friends, a landowner losing his land, dramatize contrasting images of Italy's future. Their own futures are bleak. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Italy...is the place where they've made an art of everything - especially love!

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

12 May 1964 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Before the Revolution  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bernardo Bertolucci was only 22 when he made this film. See more »

Quotes

A friend: Remember, Fabrizio: one can't live without Rossellini.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Letter to Elia (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Ricordati
Written and Performed by Gino Paoli,
e incise su dischi RCA.
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User Reviews

 
A pessimistic depiction of Italy in the 60's
12 June 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

After his début, The Grim Reaper (1962), the then 22-year old Bernardo Bertolucci made this, Before the Revolution, an often astonishing homage to the ongoing French New Wave movement and a work of almost unbelievable maturity given his age. Set very much after the revolution, presumably referring to the Italian unification, this is undoubtedly a bleak film, looking back on Italy's history with blind, fond nostalgia, and staring into the abyss of their future. Despite the occasional Marxist monologue, the film is in no ways political, and instead focuses on very human drama, with characters seemingly locked into their social roles and resigned to their fate.

The handsome and idealistic Fabrizio (Francesco Barilli) is destined to marry his childhood sweetheart Clelia (Cristina Pariset), a beautiful woman teetering on aristocracy. After his friend Agostino (Allen Midgette) drowns in a possible suicide, he falls headlong into a potentially dangerous love affair with his aunt Gina (Adriana Asti). Gina is unpredictable, highly emotional and possibly borderline mentally ill, but she is also attractive, seductive and wilful, challenging for the sullen Fabrizio. The death of Agostino clearly damages the passionate Fabrizio, whose studies of Marxism with his teacher and friend Cesare (Morando Morandini) had made him outspoken, but now finds himself blindly wandering into the bourgeoisie.

The film doesn't really have a plot as such, but is instead a collection of scenes and interplays that channel Bertolucci's somewhat pessimistic views of Italy in the 1960's. The characters seem locked in the past, a past that they weren't alive for, and as Fabrizio states, full of nostalgia for the present, as if every passing moment is somehow being snatched away from them. It's best summarised in what is undoubtedly the stand-out scene in the movie, as they visit Puck (Cecrope Barilli), a man crippled with so much debt that he is soon to lose his beloved land. While the camera stays calm and graceful throughout the film, Puck laments as the camera sweeps into their air over rivers and forests, Ennio Morricone's astounding score blaring over the visuals. It's a beautiful moment, full of sad longing that reminded me of Sam the Lion's moving monologue in The Last Picture Show (1971) - one of favourite moments in cinema.

Although this is clearly a wink to Godard and the French New Wave, Bertolucci takes a much more controlled approach to the direction. The camera often glides slowly from side to side, switching character focus as they talk, filmed in crisp black-and-white. It was this approach that caused Godard to voice his displeasure at Bertolucci after viewing his masterpiece The Conformist (1970), claiming it to be too contrived. But cinema can be anything and everything you want it to be, and this makes for beautiful cinema, anchored by a powerful performance by Asti, who makes any possible taboo regarding her incestuous relationship with her nephew become redundant. This is much more than a simple love story, this is a film about a country, it's past and present.

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