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Grand film of a simple story, with complex characters.
I feel that Bertolucci shot this film with the intention of giving all characters an opportunity to develop and grow just as the films storyline grows. One could ask the question "why so much content without the main characters in scene?", and my answer would be; "would you remove pages from a hardcover book, just to make it fit your pocket?". This is masterful film making, wonderful cinematography, exceptional feel for the era and classic example of "full-circle" storytelling. The depiction of the strong rebellious son of a peasant farmer born at the turn of the 20th century, which coincides with the birth of a wealthy landowners son who is passive in nature but bred into a fascist society, become childhood friends but in adulthood, adversaries on principals and politics.
Not one element in this film is shot as filler, each scene gives a different emotion and captures your attention on multiple levels. Do not expect to be held with suspense but rather let each moment be absorbed and the art of Bertolucci will be evident. Although this story takes place in Italy and gives some historical representation, it truly is a simple story that could be retold in almost any nation of any era, but with different circumstances. I recommend this film for any movie buff or true film lover, it is not a popcorn and cuddle up in the family-room type of movie.