Bernardo Bertolucci is one of the best writers of Italian Cinema. Bertolucci is the only one who can be counted with Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone and Luciano Vincenzoni as one of the instrumental people who elevated and enhanced Italian cinema to a different level. Sergio Leone always wanted Bertolucci to write the script besides Luciano Vincenzoni, but he never got the chance of writing the script for Sergio Leone. In fact he was asked by Sergio Leone to write the story and script for “Once Upon a Time in the West”, but later he was just asked to devise the story and not the script as Sergio Leone felt that the script would be too cerebral for American audience.
Bernardo Bertolucci is the only director who can verbalize ‘The Proof of Love’ in the most innovative way. He makes his convictions of sexual love in an uncompromising manner which is clearly visible in his works like ‘Last Tango in Paris’, ‘Stealing Beauty’, and ‘The Dreamers’. I felt that Bertolucci is the perfect director who can infuse politics into films in the perfect way after watching ‘The Conformist (1970)’. Bernardo Bertolucci is the only director who never compromises on issues like Politics, Sex, Nudity and Incest in his films.
‘1900 ‘or Novecento(Italian) is the lengthiest film I have ever seen. I was told that I cannot find the Director’s Cut version of ‘1900’ but fortunately or unfortunately I did find the ‘302 minutes, 49 seconds ‘version which is slightly less than the original one which is 311 minutes.
‘1900’ is an epic film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. It tells the story of 2 friends during the 1900-1945 period. Robert De Niro (Alfredo Berlinghieri) and Gérard Depardieu (Olmo Dalcò) are born on the same day in 1900. Alfredo is born to the family of Landlords and Olmo is a peasant son.
In the part1 of ‘1900’ Bernardo Bertolucci shows the Social community of Italy. He tries to show the way in which both Alfredo and Olmo are grown in their respective communities. The first part is reserved for portraying the situation of Italy, the pathetic nature of the workers and peasants. The first part also depicts the families of both Alfredo and Olmo. The family of Olmo works in the fields of Alfredo.
Alfredo and Olmo become friends in their childhood and later Olmo leaves his native place and after many years he is back. Even after the long gap Alfredo and Olmo become more closer and they continue their friendship. Alfredo and Olmo find their women. Olmo is married to Anita who shares the same convictions of Olmo i.e. Communism and Alfredo finds Ada.The first part of 1900 introduces us to 2 characters called Attila and Regina who are very crucial in the Part2 of ‘1900’.
The Part1 of 1900 is about 2hrs 35 minutes. After watching the first 90 minutes I lost my patience and I felt that
‘What am I watching?’
‘Is this a Bernardo Bertolucci film? ‘
‘Does he needs to put this shit about Communism? ‘
I am very much inspired by the ideologies of Communism and I am very much aware that Bernardo Bertolucci is a true communist and an Anti-Facist but does he needs to put that much amount of his love towards communism and hatred towards facism in it. I did not even complete watching the Part1 and my feelings towards the film are almost negative but at the very end of the Part1 Bernardo Bertolucci exposes his true talent.
Best of Part1
1. The scene in which Olmo catches the frogs and ties it to his hat.
2. The Train scene which is used several times in the film.
3. The scene in which one of the worker cut his hear.
4. The last of scene of Part1 with Attila and the cat.
The last scene of Part1 took me by a surprise and i wanted to see that bertolucci who is a master in writing such unusual scenes.
The last scene of the Part1 raised my hopes for the second part. In the second part Olmo and Alfredo get married. Anita dies during child birth and she gives birth to a daughter named Anita and Alfredo does not have a good relationship with Ada .The first 40 minutes of the Part2 looks promising but it does not stand up to the expected and falls flat. The way in which the monster in Attila has been portrayed is just terrific. Attila and Regina (Alfredo’s cousin) are same in their perception towards communism and fascism .The last one hour of the film just shows the communism and the fall of fascism and there is no dramatic representation.
When I was watching the last one hour of the film I felt like I was watching a documentary film on Italian communism and fascism during the end of World War II .The second part just shows the fatigue part of the film. I was just hoping that film will be completed as soon as possible. I patted myself saying that I have a lot of patience.
Best of Part2
1. The scene in which Attila and Regina abuse a child and kill him.
2. Killing of a pig by Olmo.
3. The snow filled day during Christmas Eve.
4. Killing of workers by the Fascists.
Bernardo Bertolucci directs a epic film which show the culture,social status of different communities and the fall of Fascism along with rise of Communism, the social status of the workers ,farmers etc…
I am not against lengthiest films; I loved ‘Once upon a time in America’, Schindler’s List, etc..,The problem with 1900 is that Bernardo Bertolucci doesn’t really know where the film is heading because his love towards Communism has made him to infuse many unnecessary scenes. We just don’t understand what he is trying to covey and what he is trying to convey himself.
This is definitely not a film which should be watched by normal film goers. Bernardo Bertolucci’s direction is good in parts and there are some amazing moments in the film and the way he portrays Italy is wonderful, he is brilliant in capturing the beauty of harvesting fields, the movement of the camera in the film is wonderful, he takes some long shots while the camera moves effortlessly from left to right, right to left etc .
No one could have directed such a film, may be this the best way in which any director can do.1900 falls below expectations but its a film which has to be watched by film lover’s .
Originally published on Passionforcinema.com