Set in Italy, the film follows the lives and interactions of two boys/men, one born a bastard of peasant stock (Depardieu), the other born to a land owner (de Niro). The drama spans from 1900 to about 1945, and focuses mainly on the rise of Fascism and the peasants' eventual reaction by supporting Communism, and how these events shape the destinies of the two main characters. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bernardo Bertolucci approached Warren Oates to play the Burt Lancaster role, but Oates felt he would be an unconvincing Italian. See more »
In the movie, Olmo is depicted as coming back from World War One, while Alfredo, even though conscripted, manages to stay at home thanks to his father's connections. In reality, people born in 1901 (like Olmo and Alfredo) were never conscripted to fight in the war, as they were only 17 when it ended in November 1918. The last ones to be conscripted in Italy where those born in 1899. See more »
An epic about Italian political history of the first half of the 20th Century, detailing the lives of two men born on the same day. Olmo (played by Gerard Depardieu as an adult) is the bastard child of peasants and is raised to be a socialist. Alfredo (Robert De Niro) is the son of a wealthy family and will someday become lord and master of all the peasants on his land. He's a pleasant man, not cruel like his father, but he won't go out of his way to help those below him in status (including Olmo, who is his closest friend and companion). It's a huge film, and very sloppy. I would guess it would be very sloppy even in its original version (the English language version is an hour shorter at least). My biggest problem with the film is the character of Olmo. As a child (played by Roberto Maccanti), he exhibits daring and independence. As an adult, he seems like a sponge and he kind of drops out of the last third of the picture, it seemed to me. My interest dropped in the character because, first, the character does not seem to follow from childhood to adulthood, and, second, Depardieu gives a dull performance. He's handsome, but in the kind of way that makes you forget that he even exists. Maccanti, as young Olmo, leaves a much bigger impression. My second biggest problem with the film is the treatment of politics. It's no secret where Bertolucci's sympathy lies, with the communists. That's fine by me, and it's good that he has Alfredo not as the villain but as a man who turns his back and continues to live his life as a wealthy man. But there are Fascists in the film, and they are lead by Donald Sutherland. Sutherland is so evil in this film it becomes amusing. He'll do anything to get what he wants, including killing old women, children, and he even headbutts a cat! I have no real problem with showing the Italian Fascists as evil, but this is cartoonishly evil. Sutherland's character's name: Attila. No sh*t! On the other hand, I cannot help but admit that Donald Sutherland has all the most memorable scenes in the film. He may be more or less one dimensional, but I'll never forget his wicked grin, and I'll never forget the splattered blood on his forehead from that cat! Robert De Niro does a lot with his role, which is the most complex in the film, probably. His performance here matches his best work. Alfredo's wife is played by Dominique Sanda. She also gives an exceptional performance, although her character could have been (and might have been, in the full version) better developed. While I have some major problems with the overall substance of the film, there's no doubt there's a genius at work here. Several, actually. Bertolucci's direction is as good as it ever was, and his ambition seems, at least for a while, peerless. He may have had several better films, but this is as much a peak in his direction as Last Tango in Paris or The Conformist. Helping him achieve greatness far beyond what should have resulted are Vittorio Storaro, providing gorgeous, sweeping photography, and Ennio Moricone, ever the trooper with another exceptional musical score. 1900, despite heavy flaws, is indeed a great film.
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