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A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.
For more about The Conformist and the The Conformist Blu-ray release, see the The Conformist Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 8, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Writers: Bernardo Bertolucci, Alberto Moravia
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio, Fosco Giachetti, José Quaglio
» See full cast & crew
The Conformist Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 8, 2014
Winner of David di Donatello Award for Best Film, Bernardo Bertolucci's "Il conformista" a.k.a. "The Conformist" (1970) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Raro Video USA. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers for the film and visual essay by Italian film critic and historian Adriano Apra, with a filmed interview with the Italian director. The release also arrives with a 28-page illustrated booklet featuring writings on the film and technical credits. In Italian or English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Rome, 1938. Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant, So Sweet...So Perverse, Le Combat dans l'ile) has started working for the Fascist secret police. His first assignment is to assassinate his old professor (Enzo Tarascio, The Designated Victim), a passionate communist and leader of an influential anti-fascist group who now lives in exile in Paris.
Marcello arrives in Paris with the beautiful but naïve Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli, The Nymph, Seduced and Abandoned), who is under the assumption that the two will be celebrating their honeymoon. He quickly arranges to meet the professor, who admits that he does not remember much about him.
During the meeting it becomes clear that years ago Marcello was one of the professor's brightest students. Like him, he also sympathized with the communists but never attempted to join them. Knowing that Marcello has become a fascist, the professor attempts to understand why.
By the end of the meeting Marcello is already madly in love with Anna (Dominique Sanda, A Room in Town, Novecento), the professor's stunningly beautiful wife, who realizes that she could easily manipulate him if she wanted. Later on, the two meet and make love, but both realize that their lives are heading in completely different directions. Like her husband, Anna is also a communist but willing to compromise with her beliefs if she must.
While Marcello tries to gather the courage to kill the professor, flashbacks from his childhood reveal a disturbing experience with a homosexual chauffeur (Pierre Clémenti, I Cannibali, Belle de jour). The outcome of this experience partially reveals how Marcello's life philosophy was shaped.
Based on Alberto Moravia's famous novel, Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist is one of the greatest films of the '70s. It is incredibly dark, frightening, remarkably cruel yet indescribably beautiful film.
The film is not so much about Marcello's mission to Paris as it is about various people caught in a labyrinth of ideas – there are fascists, communists, predators, traitors, idealists, and executioners who try to find a way out of it and in the process discover who they truly are. The film is particularly good in revealing their feelings and moods through beautiful images as they confront and learn about each other.
Marcello, of course, is the conformist, the most dangerous type, a man who joins with the stronger side not because he genuinely supports its cause, but because for the moment it is the only way to conform. Then, later on, after Mussolini's government falls, he predictably turns its back on it.
From all the legendary films the great Vittorio Storaro lensed during the years, his work in The Conformist is undoubtedly his best. The lensing is so beautiful that at times it actually becomes distracting, seriously preventing one from concentrating on the fractured narrative. The use of color, in particular, is incredibly original.
Trintignant is superb as the spiritually paralyzed and consumed by anger Marcello. There are numerous close-ups in the film where the camera looks straight into his eyes and one immediately realizes how powerful the demons he struggles with are. The beautiful Sandrelli and Sanda are also terrific. Clementi has a small but memorable cameo.
The Conformist is complimented by an outstanding soundtrack courtesy of the great French composer Georges Delerue (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Le mépris, L' important c'est d'aimer).
The Conformist Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with VC-1 and granted a 1080p transfer, Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Raro Video USA.
The release uses as a foundation a new restoration of The Conformist supervised by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The restoration work was carried out by Cineteca di Bologna (Italy).
I've done some direct comparisons with Arrow Video's Region-B Blu-ray release and can confirm that there are substantial improvements in terms of clarity and detail. Most well-lit close-ups boast wonderful depth and there is improved shadow definition during the indoor sequences (see screencaptures #4 and 10). There are no traces of problematic filtering corrections. Unsurprisingly, now there is a fine layer of grain that is visible throughout the entire film. To get an idea how much of it was filtered on the Region-B release, please compare screencapture #18 with screencapture #2 from our review of the Region-B release, and screencapture #5 with screencapture #3 from the same Region-B review. This being said, the encoding isn't as convincing as it could have been, and as a result there are areas of the film where the grain isn't as tight and evenly distributed as it should have been (see again screencapture #18). Still, from start to finish the film does have a pleasing organic appearance. There are no traces of problematic sharpening corrections. Furthermore, some stability issues remain. For example, the mentioned in our review of the Region-B release jerky movement is still present around the 15-minute mark (this is the most obvious example). A few more examples are present elsewhere in the film, but they are not as prominent. A couple of tiny specks pop up here and there, but never become distracting. Color reproduction is very good. Color saturation, in particular, is excellent -- there are no traces of color boosting or other digital color corrections. All in all, there is certainly some room for improvement. The encoding definitely could have been better and some image stabilization enhancements could have been applied. However, this is still a very nice organic presentation of The Conformist. In fact, it is the best English-friendly presentation of the film on the global home video market. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
The Conformist Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: Italian LPCM 2.0 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Raro Video USA have provided optional white English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless Italian track has a good dynamic range which allows Georges Delerue hauntingly beautiful score to open up the film in all the right places. Clarity and depth are also very good. Some extremely light hiss occasionally makes its presence felt, but it never becomes distracting. The dialog is clean, stable, and easy to follow. Some viewers may notice some extremely small sync/alignment discrepancies (and they are indeed very small), but some actors spoke their lines in different languages (English) and were later on overdubbed. In other words, they are part of the film's original sound design.
The English dub is good to have, as both Jean-Louis Trintignant and Stefania Sandrelli, for instance, spoke lines in English. The Italian track, however, is the one to use when viewing the film.
The Conformist Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Conformist Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I have seen all previous English-friendly Blu-ray releases of Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist and can categorically state that Raro Video's upcoming release has the best technical presentation. There is some room for improvement, but anyone interested in this film should not hesitate to pick up the upcoming U.S. release. RECOMMENDED.
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The Conformist Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Conformist Blu-ray Officially Announced - October 27, 2014
Raro Video U.S. and Kino Video have officially announced and detailed their upcoming Blu-ray release of Bernardo Bertolucci's Il conformista a.k.a. The Conformist (1970). Restored by Cineteca di Bologna, The Conformist will be available for purchase on November ...
• Raro to Use New Cineteca di Bologna Restoration for The Conformis... - July 25, 2014
Raro Video U.S. and Kino Video have confirmed that the upcoming Blu-ray release of Bernardo Bertolucci's Il conformista a.k.a. The Conformist (1970) will use the most recent Cineteca di Bologna restoration of the film.
• Raro Acquires Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist - July 17, 2013
Raro Video U.S. announced today that it has acquired the distribution rights to renowned Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's Il conformista a.k.a The Conformist (1970), starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Dominique Sanda, and Pierre Clémenti. ...
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