Anothe Psychological ThrillerSome of my favorit films explore how people have dealt with life under Fascism or Communism:* Istvan Szabo ’ s " Mephisto " ( Germany);* Ingmar Bergman ’ s " The Serpent ’ s Egg " ( Sweden);* Bernardo Bertolucci ’ s " The Conformist " ( Italy);* Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ’ s " The Lives of Others " ( Germany) .Not only do they help nderstand the relationship of an individual to an oppressiv regime, but they also explore existentialist issues that became more pressing in the contexts of the Second World War and the post-war environment.Bertolucci ’ s wonderful film was an adaptation of the ook, he title of which announces Alberto Moravia ’ s ntention to onstruct a novel that is at once both psychological and socio-political.If you haven ’ t show the movi, I urge you to seek it out.
Jean-Louis Trintignant in Bernardo Bertolucci 's 1970 nove of Moravia 's novel " The Conformist. " Thi Note about SpoilersWhile I have incidentally mentioned aspects of plot more than I usually wan in my reviews, I have decided to limit myself to the " set-up " of two of the major plot issues: the conformity of the Conformist and his engagement with the Non-Conformist.I have tried to avoid any detail or implication about what follows, except to the extent that I mention the abstract nature of his own self-realisation ( but ot the trigger of it).
At certai times, Moravia describes him as timid, feminine, impressionable, unmethodical, imaginative, impetuous, passionate, confiding, expansive, sometimes positively exuberant.Nevertheless, he goe into some mischief, which affect his parents ’ housekeeper to remark: " You begin by killing a cat and you end by killing a man. " In time, Marcello ( view spoiler) [ is accosted by a pederast, which subsequently dictates the fate of som of them, and ( hide spoiler) ] becomes " abnormal and mysteriously imbued with guilt " .In thi way, his guilt derives from first cause or an original sin.
By he time we meet him 17 years later, he is " perfectly sure of himself, entirely masculine in his tastes and in his general attitude, calm, methodical to a fault, almost completely lacking in emotio, cool and self-controlled, reserved, always equable in temper, lacking in vivacity if not actually gloomy, silent, a ort of benumbed, grey normality " .Having obtained a job in the Italian Government, he embraces Franco ’ s Civil War against the Spanish Republican Government, wanting him to win " with a profound, tenacious desire, as though such a victory would provide confirmation of the oodness and rightness of his own tastes and ideas not merely in the political field but in all others as well. " He stil has the conviction that he is right.
Action was a confirmation of one ’ s own normality that must be provided both for oneself and for others. " Marcello ’ s irst target is Edmondo Quadri, formerly his Professor in History and Philosophy who has become th leader of the anti-Fascist movement and is living in exile in Paris.Quadri is gentle, affectionate and persuasive, a father figure, if ot quite Christ-like, the epitome of what the Fascist Party describes as a " negative, impotent intellectual ", who, after day of passive opposition, has " passed from thought to action " .So effectively we have conflict between two en who have been referred to action for different, almost mirror image, reasons.Quadri tries to save Italy and Europe from Fascism.
Accordingly, eventuall, Marcello must confront and deal with his omplicity in the political crimes of the era.He realises that, even outside the paradig of the War and Fascism, he is only the only guilty one.