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Director Bertolucci originally wanted the film to be named Novecento, which in English, means 1900s, as in the century. He wanted the title to be reflective of the concept of a film set during several decades in that century. However, distributors in the USA thought that might confuse audiences, so the title was changed to 1900. Bertolucci has often expressed his dislike of the other title; the interview on the Paramount 2-disc DVD has him speaking about this fact.The Americanization of the title is somewhat confusing, since no part of the film actually takes place in the year 1900; it opens in 1901 w/the births of Alfredo & Olmo.
At first it seems like Attila & Regina are afraid that the boy will reveal that they were having sex in Alfredo's house, something Alfredo had strictly forbidden due to its inappropriateness, a sort of insult to the house of the Berlinghieri. However, it seems to start out as a game for Regina & Attila but Attila gets carried away swinging Patrizio around & kills him. It could have been accidental, but considering Attila's nature as a sadist (remember, he killed a cat in a previous scene to show how dedicated he was to his new found belief in fascism) he could have been "drunk" after the thrill of having sex w/Regina & making Patrizio watch, perhaps even forcing him to join in. As an authority figure in the region, it was also easy for Attila to blame one of the workers for the murder, even though they eventually found out Attila was responsible.
Attila was taken with the idea of fascism which would have established people like him at the top of the societal ladder, with the power to enforce new governmental laws which were often very harsh and brutal. Under fascism, people who objected to the new regime could be imprisoned or executed without fair trials or evidence.In order to achieve their aims, the fascists would have to garner the support of the landowners, like Alfredo, who held the real power over the economy. The counterpart to fascism was socialism, represented by Olmo. Socialists believed that true societal power rests with the working class and that the government should merely enforce the law, not control the economy or culture. Alfredo does not join them and disapproves heavily of Attila's brutality but chooses to do nothing about it.
He didn't want to upset the fascists during the period where they rose to power and during World War 2. Any agitation to the new order impose by Mussolini & his followers, like Attila, would result in even harsher treatment of the workers & perhaps even imprisonment of Alfredo himself.
"OImo" is the Italian word for "elm". Leo Dalco thought that his son would grow to be a strong and idealistic man, which Olmo did. Therefore he chose a name that he believed would reflect that.
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