The conformist is a political drama film casting Marcelo heading to Paris with a mission to assassinate Luca Quadri, his former college professor. A fellow Fascist Manganiello, accompanies Marcelo in his quest. In a flashback, Marcelo reveals his conversation with his blind friend Italo about his marriage and joining Fascist secret police service. In another flashback moment, Marcelo is bullied and rescued by Lino, who afterward sexually harasses him. In fear and desperation, Marcelo shoots aimlessly and ‘kills’ Lino. Also, Marcelo recalls a confession with a catholic priest where he admits committing grievous sins. Marcelo conceals his intent with a honeymoon vacation with his fiancé Giulia. Marcelo falls in love with Anna (Quadri’s wife), and his fascism beliefs are compromised to the extent that he suggests they flee together. Marcelo is supposed to assassinate Quadri in a ceremony, and he is incapable but gives Manganiello a hint of their next destination. Manganiello intercepts Quadri in the vehicle and kills him and Anna. Towards the end of the movie, Marcelo collides with Lino, who supposedly was dead and accused him publicly of murdering Quadri and Anna. He also denounces his friend Italo as a fascist (Bertolucci).
Mise-en-scene has been effective in painting Marcelo’s allegiance to marriage with her fiancé Giulia. Marcelo, always in suits, seems to suggest how serious he is with life in general (Bordwell, et al. 121). Although Marcelo might appear to be a gentleman committed to love and marriage, he bears no real feelings towards Giulia. Marcelo believes that marriage is meant for procreation only, but feelings of love are long dead in his heart. In the movie, Marcelo’s facial expression, flipping of eyes, and relaxed posture reflect his unreal opinions to Giulia. When a worker bumps into Marcelo and Giulia in a sexual romance, he throws her away, an act that Giulia questions. From this scene, we can conclude Marcelo took engagement lightly compared to Giulia.
Marcello’s silence and hesitation in assassinating professor Quadri an anti-fascist believer in the movie evoke sympathy. Marcelo seems to be in an internal struggle, divided and in deep thoughts when he is expected to kill Quadri. When Giulia asks Marcelo about fascism, Marcelo responds in a way that sheds light on a world free of totalitarianism. The film also casts professor Quadri as a calm, friendly, harmless and intelligent, and intelligent man. On the other hand, the fascists take an oppressive and unfriendly role. Manganiello takes an antagonistic tone, and smoking cigarettes suggests he is a ruthless character that represents fascism (Bertolucci). The film gives an impression of fascism and exposes the viewers to the brutality that it entails. For instance, Quadri is stabbed endlessly by bandits who show no attachments, yet the way he mourns as he dies provokes pity and realism on viewers (Bordwell, et al. xx).
Bordwell, David, et al. Film Art: An Introduction. 2016.
The conformist. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, performances by Jean-Louis Trintignant,Stefania Sandrelli,Gastone Moschin,Dominique Sanda,Enzo Tarascio. Paramount Pictures, 1970.