Before the Revolution
- 1h 45min
Following the death of his friend, an Italian youth grows increasingly closer to his young aunt.Following the death of his friend, an Italian youth grows increasingly closer to his young aunt.Following the death of his friend, an Italian youth grows increasingly closer to his young aunt.
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.
- Jun 12, 2013