Bernardo Bertolucci

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DarkImbecile
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Bernardo Bertolucci

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Aug 26, 2007 6:58 pm

Bernardo Bertolucci (1940 - 2018)

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"Each film I make is kind of a return to poetry for me, or at least an attempt to create a poem."

Filmography
Features
La commare secca / The Grim Reaper (1962)
Prima della rivoluzione / Before the Revolution (1964)
Partner (1968)
Il conformista / The Conformist (1970)
Strategia del ragno / The Spider's Stratagem (1970)
Ultimo tango a Parigi / Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Novecento / 1900 (1976)
La luna / Luna (1979)
La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo / Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981)
L'addio a Enrico Berlinguer [documentary] (1984)
The Last Emperor (1987)
The Sheltering Sky (1990)
Little Buddha (1993)
Stealing Beauty (1996)
L'assedio / Besieged (1998)
The Dreamers (2003)
Io e te / Me and You (2012)

Shorts
"Il Canale" [documentary] (1966)
La via del petrolio [documentary series] (1967)
- "Attraverso l'Europa"
- "Il viaggio"
- "Le origini"
"Agonia" [segment, Amore e rabbia / Love and Anger] (1969)
"La salute è malata" [documentary] (1971)
"Cartoline dalla Cina" [documentary] (1985)
"Bologna" [segment, 12 registi per 12 città] (1989)
"Histoire d'eaux" [segment, Ten Minutes Older: The Cello] (2002)
"Scarpette rosse" [segment, Venice 70: Future Reloaded]

Books
Bernardo Bertolucci by Robert Phillip Kolker (1985)
Bertolucci by Bertolucci by Donald Ranvaud & Enzo Ungari, eds. (1987)
Bertolucci's Dream Loom: A Psychoanalytic Study of Cinema by T. Jefferson Kline (1987)
Bernardo Bertolucci by Claretta Tonetti (1995)
The Radical Faces of Godard and Bertolucci by Yosefa Loshitzky (1995)
Bertolucci's The Last Emperor: Multiple Takes by Borden, Kaufman Sklarew & Spitz, eds. (1998)
Bernardo Bertolucci: Interviews by Gerard, Kline & Sklarew, eds. (2000)
Bertolucci: Images by Marcello Garofalo, ed. (2011)

Forum Resources
Bernardo Bertolucci (1941-2018)
Bernardo Bertolucci on DVD
272 La commare secca
422 The Last Emperor
BD 135 1900
Before the Revolution
The Conformist
The Conformist and 1900
Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)
Novecento / 1900 (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1976)

Web Resources
Senses of Cinema profile and links to articles and resources
Pauline Kael's review of Last Tango in Paris, The New Yorker (1972)
1973 interview with Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone
1979 interview with Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone
"Bernardo Bertolucci: A Celebration of Influence" by Robert Kolker, National Film Theatre (1985)
1990 interview with Harlan Kennedy, American Film
1994 video interview with Charlie Rose, Charlie Rose
"After the Revolution" by Louis Menand, The New Yorker (2003)
2005 interview with Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club
2008 interview with Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian
2011 interview with David Gritten, The Telegraph
2014 interview with Emma Myers, Film Comment
2014 interview with Colleen Kelsey, Interview Magazine
Last edited by kinjitsu on Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:07 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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#2 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Sun Feb 24, 2008 1:03 pm

The Conformist is getting a UK re-release and the Guardian has an interesting discussion with Bertolucci focusing almost exclusively on that film.

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King Prendergast
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#3 Post by King Prendergast » Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:29 pm

Bertolucci is a genius. Even when his films go cringe-inducingly astray, which they tend to do, he manages to make them work beautifully. I'd have to say tho that at least half of the success of his films has to be attributed to Vittorio Storaro

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ogygia avenue
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#4 Post by ogygia avenue » Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:42 pm

I fell deeply in love with Il Conformista when it was revived in Boston a few years ago, but have yet to see any of his other films (apart from The Last Emperor). What's the next film I should see?

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Darth Lavender
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#5 Post by Darth Lavender » Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:07 pm

Bertolluci has, in my very limited experience, struck me as someone of moderate talent who achieves greatness largely because of his collaborators (Storaro being the most obvious)

But, then, I'm kind of basing that on just Last Tango, 1900 and The Last Emperor. I still haven't watched my dvd of The Conformist and I suspect that will, perhaps, finally give me some idea of what makes Bertolucci himself so 'great'

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Dylan
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#6 Post by Dylan » Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:26 pm

ogygia avenue wrote:I fell deeply in love with Il Conformista when it was revived in Boston a few years ago, but have yet to see any of his other films (apart from The Last Emperor). What's the next film I should see?
Well, I'm certainly as big of a fan as he's ever had, so I guess I should add my two cents.

The Conformist is indeed a masterpiece, and if you like that you should find plenty to love in his filmography. For this Bertolucci fan, Before the Revolution, The Dreamers, Last Tango in Paris, La Luna and Partner, in that order, are his other great films. I also really, really like The Spider's Stratagem, The Last Emperor (especially the extended version) and Stealing Beauty. La Commare Secca is pretty cool (and should be inspiring to fellow younglings, as he made it when he was barely 21!), as is his short for Love & Anger.

1900 is interesting and weird, and filled with cool stuff, but it's minimally twice as long as it needs to be, at times it's needlessly excessive and the curious ending doesn't achieve the appropriate tone...but as a whole it's certainly interesting enough to warrant a viewing, not to mention that Morricone and Storaro are at the top of their game.

Besieged is an interesting failure. I didn't care for The Sheltering Sky or Little Buddha. Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man bored me. All have lovely photography, though.

Nine out of every ten days, The Conformist is my favorite Bertolucci, but one out of every ten days, Before the Revolution is my favorite, and it's also my favorite film about people in their twenties, so I guess I'd recommend you go for that next.

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#7 Post by King Prendergast » Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:15 pm

I agree with much of what you say, but I would rate The Sheltering Sky more highly than you do, especially the first half (i.e. before Malkovich dies). I remember reading a good piece on the film, i think it might have been at stylus.com arguing that it was an underrated Bertolucci film and I concur.

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david hare
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#8 Post by david hare » Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:37 pm

With Prima della Rivoluzione Bertolucci started out on a rare all time high, comparable perhaps to the youthful genius of Welles and Kane - weren't they both 26 when they made these movies? (I regard Commare Secca as something of a false start in the sense it's really a movie Pasolini should have directed from his own screenplay. I don't believe Berto nails down either the tone or the mileu.)

From there through the next decade his work takes a number of formal and stylistic directions around perosnal obsessions, notably father-son-relationships and generally Freudian identity issues, and the movies are all indiviually dazzling. Conformist is wonderful but Strategia del Ragno from the same year is even better - fantastic material from Borges and Berto's own take on the vanishing indentity of th central character.

Partner is a greaat movie and with Clementi's performance (easily the equal to Lou Castel's in Pugni in Tasca) it's his fullest expression of externalized madness, with the parallel theme of social revolution "outside". Last Tango is a great movie even if I stil think of it as a gay film in straight drag. 1900 is a huge loveable panorama - not altogether successful, especially in terms of multi national casting and soundtracks etc, but it's an impossibly grand project. (And perhaps his best work with Storaro.) I love Luina, despite the obvious miscasting of Jill Clayburgh, and the two Verdian setpieces from Il Tovatore and Ballo in Maschera which formally comment on the narrative are stunning, (harking back to Visconti's opening scene of Senso with another scene from Trovatore.)

To me the cap of this work about fathers, identity and obsession is Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man. The picture does not have many supporters. Wronlgy and perhpas because like Strategia it isn't readily available these days.

And from this point the problems set in. I really do not care much for Last Emperor - the core of the the material is completely overwhlemed by the pagent and spectacle, and the few personal moments are simply buried in decoration.

Sheletering Sky is IMO at least very fine and a perfect meet for Bowles' sensibility, not to mention ideal casting in Malkovich and Winger. Little Buddha is generally not well regarded, although I certainly have time for it essentially as a children's movie about the story of Buddha, into which "adults" are allowed to wander and view. The degree to which you like it probably depends on how much you feel three or four moments of astounding mise en scene can carry an entire picture. And this becomes the rub for most of his later work.

Stealing Beuaty is, dspite the gorgeousness of Liv Tyler, a piece of indulgent fluff. Yet Besieged is suprisignly moving and affecting, perhaps becauae of its direct simplicity. And the Dreamers is - sorry Dylan, as you know - a travesty of the work of a once great director. Compeltely self indulgent and underdeveloped as a movie about and set within Paris '68, as supposedly felt and seen through cinephile eyes. I find it compeltely unwatchable.

Is there still hope for B? I hope so. And I dismiss the glib theory his work went to the dogs with Storaro - if nothing else they both complemented each other perfectly.

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#9 Post by King Prendergast » Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:31 pm

Yeah, The Dreamers was pretty bad. Eva Green naked was good. Film overall: not so much.

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Dylan
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#10 Post by Dylan » Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:52 pm

With Prima della Rivoluzione Bertolucci started out on a rare all time high, comparable perhaps to the youthful genius of Welles and Kane - weren't they both 26 when they made these movies? (I regard Commare Secca as something of a false start in the sense it's really a movie Pasolini should have directed from his own screenplay. I don't believe Berto nails down either the tone or the mileu.)
Bertolucci was 23 when he wrote and directed Before the Revolution, and 24 when it was released. Yes, it's utterly magnificent, and as I said, somedays I feel it's his best. And 23! Sigh...

And yeah, La Commare Secca is just a cool little piece, especially for his fans - certainly not an essential work by any stretch, but for 21 it's mighty impressive.

The Conformist is incredibly unique and gorgeous, there's nothing else out there like it, and never will be.
I love Luna
That's makes two of us. After 1900, La Luna was a very welcome return to the intimate, striking and dark sensual drama that defines him, and it’s as excellent to set eyes on and get into as the best of his. There are many, many bravura sequences, like the first opera scene, or a truly magical movie theater sequence exhibiting young disquieting sensuality during a viewing of Niagara, or his strange and fascinating brand of sexual expression (this does make a gradual and progressive mother/son incest sensual and kind of romantic while still maintaining a discomforting and ambiguous edge). Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography couldn’t be more breathtaking, the camera flies and moves here far more than most of their films, and his lighting can’t be beat. As a side note, both Bertolucci and Storaro have cameo shots about 28 minutes in (following the first opera sequence). Look for them!

Regarding Tragedy, which seems to be where we cut off, although the camerawork is graceful, and there are some interesting hints of psychology, the film just drags for me, and although the final scene is pure Bertolucci in terms of the camera work, plotting and set-up, it's dramatically puzzling (and although I think it's supposed to be, I wish there was a lot more assurance in it). Some of it was apparently a commentary on the terrorism that was going on in Italy in the late 70s, which I’m admittedly not well-informed on. Anouk Aimée was gorgeous to look at...one of the world's most beautiful women.

Your hatred of The Dreamers runs deep (as it does for many, and I absolutely can't believe people actually prefer Regular Lovers, which bored me, and imo isn't saying 1/10 of 1 percent as much as The Dreamers is), so not much of what I say can really sway you one way or the next (and I believe I've tried on other threads here), but I do feel like it's dramatically his most fully achieved film, and (surely you agree with this) it looks absolutely gorgeous. I think Stealing Beauty is a very good and even daring film aimed at teenagers (how many other great directors have taken a stab at the 'teen' film and made something even 1/5 as elegant and sexy as this? Not to mention that Liv Tyler's character is pretty interesting). It has 'teen' written all over it (and reflective in its soundtrack, which is pretty rad, too) and yet, it still totally feels like a Bertolucci film. It's not great, but I like it.

Regarding subsequent projects, I was really looking forward to Bel Canto before that fell through. Hopefully he'll get on another project this year for release it in 2009.
Last edited by Dylan on Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#11 Post by King Prendergast » Sun Mar 02, 2008 12:00 am

It would be amazing if he could resurrect his Red Harvest project. I would anticipate that as much as I am Tree of Life

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#12 Post by david hare » Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:10 am

Yes a lot of people put the derailment of Red Harvest as the period he lost moorings.

I think he would have made a miracle out of it. But that was then. I don't know about now.

Even Michael Pitt's dick in The Dreamer's can't get ME excited about it. This is a real shame because Adair's Cocteauian screenplay is a very clever piece of referential work. But Eva Green (despite her map of Tasmania) and Louis Garel are just abominable performers. Green's whining delivery is one of the worst performances by an "actress" in a serious movie. Perhpas comparable only to Regina Nemni in Antonioni's Filo Pericoloso ep in Eros. As for artistic integrity even the classic movie grabs are cropped into the movie's overall 1.85 ratio, and when he intercut Mouchette's suicide with Eva trying to turn on the gas oven I felt like shoulting out instructions. A "She's in the attic" moment. .

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Dylan
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#13 Post by Dylan » Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:53 am

As for artistic integrity even the classic movie grabs are cropped into the movie's overall 1.85 ratio
That's an odd thing to complain about. The Dreamers is certainly only one of hundreds of widescreen films that crop a film clip, whether it be 1.33, 1.85 or 2.35. I don't remember what it was, but I just watched a film where a character is watching Butch and Sundance on TV in 1.33, cropping Conrad Hall's cinematography, and I didn't care, that clip was just a part of the film's universe.

Try this one: in real life, going to people's houses and seeing a 1.33 television broadcast of a pan/scan film stretched to accommodate a widescreen television. Gasp.

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#14 Post by Awesome Welles » Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:20 am

King Prendergast wrote:I agree with much of what you say, but I would rate The Sheltering Sky more highly than you do, especially the first half (i.e. before Malkovich dies). I remember reading a good piece on the film, i think it might have been at stylus.com arguing that it was an underrated Bertolucci film and I concur.
Please exercise the
SpoilerShow
spoiler function
Thanks.

Also to ogygia avenue, in case you didn't know Prima Della Rivoluzione is releasedon a wonderful 2 disc set from Italy with English subs.

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King Prendergast
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#15 Post by King Prendergast » Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:02 am

anyone know the DVD situation with The Spider's Strategum? Can I expect to see a release in my lifetime....

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#16 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:52 pm

I have been asking around the British distributors - Artificial Eye, who distributed it theatrically in 1976 - have no plans to release a DVD. The BFI who released the VHS have yet to come back to me.

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#17 Post by Stefan Andersson » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:20 am

Strategie der Spinne has been announced by Kinowelt for May 08 release. Probably only German subs. Hopefully the resto shown in Venice 2007.

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#18 Post by King Prendergast » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:43 pm

I just finished watching Stealing Beauty for the first time (despite being one of the world's most passionate Bertolucci apologists I never caught up with this one) and, alas, my greatest fears have been confirmed. Even I can't defend this one. Embarrassingly bad in parts, bordering on unwatchable in others. It almost felt like a parody of a Bertolucci film in certain respects (i.e. excessive nudity for its own sake). A real disappointment from one of my favorite directors . . . even the Darius Khonji photography wasn't much to write home about.

For memories of a far better BB film check out this article I alluded to earlier in this thread.

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FerdinandGriffon
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Re: Bernardo Bertolucci

#19 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:50 pm

Just finished watching Bertolucci's segment in the omnibus film Love and Anger, and just gotta say that that's some of the silliest shit I've ever seen. There's a lot more miss than hit here, but Berto was right on target about one thing: twenty minutes stuck in a room with an awe-inspiringly pretentious experimental theatre group is Agony.

On the plus side, Pasolini's contribution is lyrical and hilarious, and washed away most of the foul taste in my mouth left there by all those coked up thesps.

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Ovader
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Re: Bernardo Bertolucci

#20 Post by Ovader » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:49 am

MoMA retrospective December 15, 2010–January 12, 2011.

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John Cope
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Re: Bernardo Bertolucci

#21 Post by John Cope » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:10 pm


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James Mills
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Re: Bernardo Bertolucci

#22 Post by James Mills » Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:59 pm

As an obsessive fan of both Bertolucci and and Storaro, I just don't buy the argument that either relied more heavily on the other. I oftentimes hear that Bert "needed" Storaro, but aside from Apocalypse Now, Storaro's resume outside of Bert is less than stellar. Hell, I would argue that even some of Bert's own films with Storaro were cinematographically less than stellar (The Spider's Stratagem and Last Tango in Paris, imo).

I would also argue that their most renown collaborations (The Conformist is probably my favorite film of all time) are as beautiful for their framing as they are their lighting and colors, and Bert is largely responsible for these compositional choices, most of which are prevalent in even his more minor works that aren't with Storaro.

Just wanted to get that off my back. I adore both of these men with the utmost reverence. Say what you want of Bert's self indulgence, but he never compromised his visions or ambitions. I'm sincerely thankful for that.

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Dylan
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Re: Bernardo Bertolucci

#23 Post by Dylan » Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:35 pm

Who said one relied heavily on the other? The main issue seemed to be more a case of both men being very controlling and having a clash every now and then, namely on the later films, which is why they've taken such a long hiatus from working together.

Storaro's work outside of Bertolucci is less-than stellar?! I think he's the greatest cinematographer who ever lived and everything he shot is worth looking at.
Look at Le Orme, The Fifth Cord, Malizia, Scandalo, Tis Pity She's a Whore, Caravaggio - all of these films are absolutely gorgeous.

All of Bertolucci's films without Storaro still look like Bertolucci films, but obviously without Storaro's inimitable treatment of light and shadow, replaced by Di Palma, Khondji or Cianchetti's own delicate shading.

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James Mills
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Re: Bernardo Bertolucci

#24 Post by James Mills » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:37 pm

It's more of a universal argument that I hear a lot, and it's usually against Bertolucci (along the lines of Darth Invader's post) so I just wanted to chime in on the matter. Unfortunately, I haven't seen most of the films you listed that Storaro worked on without Bert. To be honest, my comment was probably premature given that I've only seen maybe four or five films that Storaro has DP'd without Bert, but I did feel that these were completely inferior to his work with Bert.

I didn't mean to present an argument against Storaro in the least sense, as he's my probably my favorite cinematographer of all time as well.

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Dylan
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Re: Bernardo Bertolucci

#25 Post by Dylan » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:05 am

It's more of a universal argument that I hear a lot, and it's usually against Bertolucci
It sounds like an uninformed opinion to me. Like his movies or not, Bertolucci has a very distinctive visual style no matter who the cinematographer is, and that style is apparent right from the beginning with La Commare Secca, which wasn't shot by Vittorio Storaro.

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