Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterpiece, The Conformist (Il Conformista) from 1970, is based upon the novel of the same name by Alberto Moravia. It is beautifully played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli and Dominique Sanda.
The film is a case study in the psychology of conformism and fascism: Marcello Clerici is a bureaucrat, cultivated and intellectual but largely dehumanized by an intense need to be 'normal' and to belong to whatever is the current dominant socio-political group. He grew up in an upper class and perhaps dysfunctional family and he suffered a major childhood sexual trauma and gun violence episode in which he long believed (erroneously) that he had killed his chauffeur. He accepts an assignment from the Fascist Secret Police to assassinate his former mentor, living in exile in Paris. In Trintignant's characterization, Clerici is willing to sacrifice his values in the interests of building a supposedly "normal life."
According to the political philosopher Takis Fotopoulos, The Conformist is "a beautiful portrait of this psychological need to conform and be “normal” at the social level, in general, and the political level, in particular.” It is beautifully shot and edited and is a visual masterpiece that influenced many directors in the 1970s and beyond.
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