Parma, 1962. Balancing between his Marxist ideology and his forced integration into the system, the twenty-year-old student, Fabrizio, is both repelled and attracted by his parents' bourgeois way of life. Still unable to come to terms with the untimely demise of a dear friend, and while preparing for his marriage to his statuesque and affluent but apolitical girlfriend, Clelia, Fabrizio finds himself distracted after the sudden arrival of the refined but troubled Milanese Aunt Gina. Now, confused, Fabrizio has no other choice but to give in to lust. Will Fabrizio embrace fate and his predestined ordinary life?Written by
It's strange to think that Bertolucci was only 23 when he did this film, but then it makes perfect sense cause the story loosely centers around a young man approaching adulthood. It's even stranger to realize that only 8 years later he directed 'The Last Tango in Paris' where his protagonist already experiences his midlife crises. Back in 1964 Bertolucci's main interest was not story telling but rather to find a new visual language to portray his generation. Heavily influenced by the Nouvelle Vague, Godard in particular, that he even mentions at some length here, Bertolucci is eager to break with as many (cinematographic) conventions as possible, but the imagery he develops in the process is so beautiful that this is a delight to watch from beginning to end. Also it serves as a reminder that there was actually a time when there seemed to be an alternative to capitalism, though the revolution is only talked about. The whole thing works like a kaleidoscope or mosaic of the time. At first I had trouble to follow the plot because scenes don't necessarily respond to each other in a cause and effect kinda way but once I realized that an ongoing story is not what this is about I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery even more. And though our heroes suffer from first signs of disillusion, back then everything seemed possible, whether it was changing our society or changing the aesthetics of cinema. What interesting times.
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