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Monthly Readings/Screenings > The Conformist (Jan. 08)

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message 1: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Happy new year everyone! I just thought I'd set up the topic here for all of you who wish to start chatting about The Conformist.

Sadly, I've gotten very little reading done on my vacation and have not even started this but I should be able to get to it in the next week or so. I suspect many of us are still "recuperating".

I'm looking forward to our discussion here and hope you are all enjoying the book/film.

message 2: by Alison (last edited Jan 06, 2008 10:14PM) (new)

Alison I am about 50 pages in. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about starting this. I'm not usually into "political" novels, and this was such unfamiliar territory to me. So far, it's strictly psychological, social turf. We're learning about a childhood that is going to be the set-up for an interesting grown-up.

message 3: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Alison, I'm so glad you're enjoying it so far. I still haven't started but am hoping to get a good chunk of it read this weekend.

I've only read one other Moravia book - Two Women - which I did very much enjoy and I've seen some of the other films... It seems to me that Moravia does a great job of taking political themes and humanizing them.

message 4: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments I am going to start today! Moravia I think, is one of my favorite authors. So far I haven't read one bad thing from this writer.

message 5: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Just started reading it yesterday and what a powerful prologue! I'm really enjoying this so far. There's a really interesting mix of innocence/naivete and evil in Marcello.

message 6: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments Marcello is great and reading this novel reminds me why Moravia is such a great novelist. Wonderful detail and in another thread I mentioned this work reminds me of Yukio Mishima for some reason. Maybe with the cat death stuff - in The Sailor Who Fell From Grace." The whole cruelity issue maybe it as well. The nature of evil being totally explained in less then 30 pages. Remarkable.

message 7: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
So, I finished through part one over the weekend and this book is just amazing! If anyone is on the fence about whether or not to read this, I highly recommend it.

The story is told in a simple style, very straightforward but the underlying ideas are rich with many layers - the nature of evil, what it is to be "normal", is there any value to being "normal", why do people conform - do they think it will make them happy or is it just fear.

Of course, the Fascist regime of Mussolini lingers in the background of this story but so far this is really the story of one man struggling with who he is and why he is the way he is and in the bigger picture how all these decisions of conformity can lead to a government like that of Mussolini's. It's shockingly still quite relevant to our times today...

I'm enjoying this so much, I've already added several other Moravia books to my queue!

message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments I'm about 80 percent through and like most of the readers above, am very impressed. I'm not going to give anything away here (there are loads of unusual plot developments) but I'll add a few more observations to Kimley's notes above. In addition to fascism as a theme, watch for Moravia's unusual use of the Judas/betrayal theme (to which Bertolucci adds his own personal take - but more on that later..) and for the almost surreal detachment of the hero as he stumbles through and increasingly strange and - in his mind - almost fatalistic series of events.
There are also some surprisingly funny scenes as well....

message 9: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments Reading it and lovin' it. Is Moravia Left wing? I can't remember. wonder if he thinks all Fascists are this way - in a sense is he writing about the roots of Fascism?

message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments Moravia had lots of problems with the Fascist government and was certainly influenced by Marx, among others. I don't know that he was ever a member of the Italian Communist Party (though he was a member of the Italian Parliament near the end of his life). I think it's safe to assume that he was certainly sympathetic to the left - he was friends with Pasolini and with Bernardo Bertolucci's father. I pulled a few books off of my shelves to see if I could find anything more specific, but that's about the best I can offer. I know that "The Conformist" (the movie more than the book) has been criticized for -

Oh, I forgot...

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- making a connection between homosexuality and fascism, but I'll save discussion of that for later.

message 11: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments There's a lengthy and somewhat curmudgeonly interview with Moravia to be found here:

Not much on "The Conformist", though. And regarding Tosh's earlier question, he seems to deny having any political affiliation. Of course, he also denies just about every other label that the interviewer tries to place on his work.

message 12: by Alison (last edited Jan 10, 2008 02:04PM) (new)

Alison Hey friends! I was driving down the road today and realized, I'm not going to be able to finish this book. I am in a state of exhaustion following the end of the year activities, I have about four books going right now, kids, work, husband out of town, blah, blah. It started out great, but I have to be realistic. I'm going to try to read Northanger Abbey for my Rory club, and that may be it for January! (O.K. maybe a little David Copperfield cause I'm really enjoying it ). I do have The Conformist coming via Netflix, however. So I'll be sure to watch it and post early to spoil the ending for all of you. Isn't there a "surprise" ending a la M. Night Shyamalan? (Kidding) My regrets!

message 13: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Totally understand Alison. I'm still not done myself though I've only got about 80 pages left and damn if there aren't some good surprises in that second half! I'm really pretty impressed with this book.

I also figure these discussions can be "reheated" at any time in the future. It's not like we have to close them after the month is over.

message 14: by Alison (last edited Jan 10, 2008 02:03PM) (new)

Alison That's a good point, Kimley. I guess these discussions will be here infinitely....

message 15: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments Here's a shout out for all you Goodreads members who joined up in 3016! Hope we didn't post too many spoilers.
(And sorry about that whole Dan Brown thing. I'm not sure what we are thinking back here in the 21st century...)

message 16: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments I am really enjoying this book. It has so many sides to it - like a major dinner. There is the spy aspect of the story, the sexual intrigue (Moravia's is an expert on this), and a study of a fascist man. It is sort of a thinking person's thriller.

message 17: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments I finished the book earlier this week and watched the film again on Wednesday. I'll postpone any major remarks until a few more people have had a chance to finish it. But I can second Tosh's comment about the variety of styles and themes offered in the novel. There are several very funny segments (I thought that almost all of the scenes involving Marcello's wife were hilarious, as neither she nor her husband seem to have the slightest idea of what the other is like), a rich psychological study, political/historical commentary and even a heavy dose of romantic obsession. I'll also point out that while the movie is perhaps 85% faithful to the novel, it takes a very different approach, as Bertolucci has his own very deliberate interpretation to convey.

message 18: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
I just finished the book yesterday and really loved it. I think there may only be three of us reading this month's selection? I do hope a few more of you join us as this book is fantastic and I thought surprisingly accessible and fun to read.

I still need to watch the film which I probably won't get to until next weekend.

Robert, thanks for the Moravia interview. Curmudgeonly is a bit of an understatement, no? LOL He sure did give that interviewer a hard time!

Though I was especially interested in what Moravia said about Marcello being a sympathetic character because it was something that struck me in a big way as I was reading it. Clearly the interviewer didn't see Marcello as sympathetic and when I posted my review of the book I noticed another review here on goodreads that felt the same. What do the rest of you think on this?

Also, Robert, I'm sure you know... the article mentioned that Moravia knew Bertolluci's father but didn't say how. Was Bertolluci's father a writer?

message 19: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments I think Bertolluci's father was a major Italian poet. Not sure if he has been translated into English. I hope by tonight that I will finish Conformist.

Also working at a bookstore, it seems the Conformist is not that easy to get. I am not sure about Amazon, but I think the major wholesellers for books are out-of-stock. But do borrow, steal or somehow buy this book. It's really great.

message 20: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Tosh, you don't have it at your store??? I'm really surprised. I had no problem getting it from Amazon just recently. But I know Alison mentioned having trouble getting it as well. I'm so sorry everyone if you're having trouble finding it. You might also try your local library. Libraries rule!

message 21: by Robert (last edited Jan 13, 2008 10:52AM) (new)

Robert | 111 comments As Tosh has confirmed, Bertolucci's father Attilio was a well-known poet, (and film critic!)and friend of both Moravia (and his wife, writer Elsa Morante) and Pasolini. This is probably not an insignificant fact, especially in light of Bertolucci's tendency to reject father figures, both literal and symbolic, in his work. Robert Kolker, author of an excellent study of Bertolucci, finds it significant that the evil character played by Donald Sutherland in "1900" is named Attila. (And for an unusual example of the latter, Professor Quaddri's address in "The Conformist" was actually that of Jean-Luc Godard's Paris apartment...!).
I'm sorry to hear that so many people are having trouble locating the novel.(The Zoland edition came out in '99, so I guess it may not be in many stores right now...) I thought Moravia was getting something of a long overdue comeback. I noticed from my own shelves that I have made a habit of picking up any of his books when I find them in used bookstores, and there are even a few that I'd forgotten I owned... After I finished "The Conformist", I read "A Fancy Dress Party", a very strange story about a dinner party in an unnamed Latin American country in which every character is trying to manipulate everyone else. Very odd and farcical... I also highly recommend "Contempt", also known as "A Ghost at Noon", the source for Godard's great film.
And while I don't know much about Italian literature, I'd also give a high recommendation to Enzo Siciliano's biography of Pasolini, though it's been nearly 25 years since I read it. Siciliano, also a friend and contemporary of Moravia, Pasolini, Morante and Bertolucci (the father), provides a vivid account of Roman literary life in the 50s and 60s.

message 22: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments I just finished reading the novel, and I am very impressed with the work.

Saying that I think the book is going out of print. Amazon is out except for used copies, and it's ify if bookstores have it in stock. It really depends on the bookbuyer and bookseller. But in general I never have a problem finding a Moravia title. I have so many collection of short stories by this man that are out of print. But if I am not mistaken I think the great NYRB are putting out some more titles by Moravia.

I am not going to go into plot, but what I think this novel tries to do is show a typical Fascist personality. Then on top of that Moravia has sexual aspects - which I think is important in how one shows their political or social views in their lives.

Quaddri, the anti-Fascist is an interesting figure in the novel as well as his wife Lina. I have to think what they represent to Moravia or to the reader. It's interesting that they know what Marcello is up to - and how they react to him.

And Quaddri's address is actually Godard's Paris address? That's incredible! Moravia hates Godard???? "Contempt" is such a great film and with respect to Godard, it is very close to the novel. Hmmm?

message 23: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Just a quick note to point out that the book is readily available online at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Tosh, I suspect you may have been looking up an older edition of the book on Amazon. But the edition that I just read and only purchased about three weeks ago on Amazon seems to still be available. And any of you in NYC, the New York public library has many copies of it available, as I would imagine most decent libraries would - I hope!

message 24: by brian (last edited Jan 13, 2008 10:13PM) (new)

brian   tosh is right... the distributor cannot send it to the bookstore. perhaps amazon has a different distributor? either way, it being unavailable at ingram and baker & taylor doesn't bode well...

so... i'm sorry to say, but due to the above inconvenience, i did not read The Conformist! sorry kimley! i do love the movie, though...

i am redemeed, however, as i just purchased The Leopard. excited to read it. i saw the movie about 8 yrs ago at cinema village when they re-released it for a few weeks. will rent the Criterion version after i've read the book...

message 25: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments I can't speak for the barnes and Noble website which claims to have it in stock, but Amazon at this time doesn't have any of the copies in stock. For those who need to read between the words on Amazon.

When they say "usually ships within 1 to 3 weeks" really means they don't have it in their warehouse and therefore they are waitig for the order from the publisher. Which means to me, if it is a an old title by say at least two years, means the publisher is out of stock.

If Amazon says Within 24 hours' that means they have it in their warehouse. So besides Barnes and Noble, I don't know if most customers can get it within a week for instance. The one to three weeks is their polite way of saying 'Hell we don't know when it will come in, but we hope it will be within three weeks.' More likely the book is out of print.

But as usual Brian is in good luck. Because I am going to loan him my copy of the book - and I don't do that for anybody. Including my Mother! Only for Brian, and Brian only will I loan this classic novel. And you know once Brian gets a hold of this copy he will read it by the time the beautful girls at Peets take his order for some fu-ful coffee and deliver the actual coffee. So in other words I want Brian to read this book. Because I think he will go ga-ga over it.

message 26: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments The Godard address is only in the movie and was solely Bertolucci's contribution. Godard was a major influence on his early work (and around the same time JLG acknowledged BB - in "Le Gai Savoir" - as one of the promising signs of the future of cinema) and I suspect that linking him to the professor was both a sign of respect and a hint that he wanted to shake off his own influences. (The Jean-Pierre Leaud character in "Last Tango" is also a nod in that direction...)
I don't know if Moravia ever said anything about "Contempt". Godard rather famously dismissed the book as (I'm paraphrasing) the kind of book for reading on a train but his film is very close to the spirit of the novel (which I am currently re-reading) especially in keeping the despair of the Piccoli character intact.

My view of what the Professor and Lina mean to Marcello? Utter confusion. Marcello is drawn to Fascism not for any ideological reason but because he is so eager to go along with the crowd. He craves normalcy, but has such a limited view of what that means that any new position or experience sends him reeling. His "love-at-first-sight" response to Lina and efforts to rationalize her behavior were my favorite section of the book..

message 27: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Everyone, I'm so sorry there's been trouble locating copies of this month's book. And thanks Tosh for clearing up the Amazon situation. I hadn't noticed that it wasn't shipping right away and as you say that usually indicates trouble. I guess I must have gotten one of the last copies. I ordered mine on Dec. 15 from Amazon and got it in a week.

Hopefully this is just an unfortunate fluke. Obviously there is only so much I can do to check availability of books. It appeared to be readily available when we first picked it.

And for those who really are interested, I think it just takes a small amount of effort to score a used copy online or track down some back stock. B&N online appears to still have copies and you can plug in your zip code on their site and they'll tell you if any local stores have a copy. For those in NYC, it appears there's a copy at the B&N Union Square store. And, of course, as I've said, I think it's pretty easy to find in a library.

It looks like Steerforth Italia (who publish The Conformist) may have gone under as I noticed several of their other Moravia titles were also out of stock. Hopefully someone like NYRB will pick up these titles. As Robert said, it does seem that Moravia is making a big comeback.

All very frustrating!

But Brian, enjoy your cuppa joe and Moravia! I'm so glad to hear that you are book loan worthy - that says a lot!

message 28: by rinabeana (new)

rinabeana | 7 comments I just got both The Conformist and The Leopard from my school library (I guess that's one perk of going to a huge school). I'm hoping to squeeze the former in by the end of the month. I'm excited to be in a new book club!

message 29: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments Welcome to rinabeana and anyone else out there. It's been kind of quiet for the last few days so I thought I'd go ahead and break the ice by starting the discussion of the film version of "The Conformist". And note to Alison, since I know you recently watched "Miller's Crossing", I think you'll find the film very interesting...
First of all, if you've read the book, you will notice that Bertolucci has taken a lot of liberties and essentially created his own version. I would say that it preserves the spirit of the book but places them in a new context. So the first thing I want to mention is that while the book keeps an almost allegorical perspective on Fascist Italy (Mussolini is never named), the film is, I think, much more concerned with placing the story within a very specific political history. I wonder if this simply comes from Bertolucci having gained a few years of perspective. The novel was published in '51, just 6 years after the end of World War 2, so I can see where the events and attitudes of the fascist era must have still seemed rather fantastic to Moravia. Bertolucci wants us to understand that his story is about real political organizations - Communists, Fascists - and asks the viewer (especially the Italian viewer) to take responsibility for the ideological views of the time. While fascism is , for Moravia, not much more than a neurotic symptom experienced by Marcello, Bertolucci wants us to understand it as an authentic political threat.

message 30: by Jim (new)

Jim | 45 comments Can't wait to read book - on list to get it at libary.
As far as message that Italians needed to take personal responsibility for political actions of their times/country, it's always the case.
I usually think about quote that bad things happen when good women/men stand silently by while bad people act.
Does any body know of quote, what is actually is, who said it where and why?
Will do what Kimley taught me - something called googling whatever that is.
As always, you people blow me away with your comments,insight and erudition. Thank you all so much.

message 31: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
I'm so glad to hear a few more of you were able to get the book from the library. Hope you enjoy it!!! But for those who haven't finished yet...


Well, I finally had a chance to watch the film version last night and I was quite surprised at how many changes there were both large and small. Little things like changing the name of Lina to Anna had me a bit confused (since the link from Lino to Lina seemed significant), adding the blind friend (which is symbolically obvious) but overall Robert's assessment makes sense with Bertolucci wanting to make it more of a concrete statement, less allegorical. In this same vein, I thought it very interesting that Bertolucci had much less sympathy for Marcello than Moravia did which I actually thought was pretty amazing considering that Moravia wrote it so shortly after the war and had lived through the horrors of it whereas Bertolucci (born in 1940 according to IMDB) probably hardly remembered it. Interestingly, on the DVD Bertolucci discusses why he changed the ending - because he felt it was more punishing to Marcello. I think I actually preferred the book a bit more for this reason. I really liked that the characters were so complex and not easy to see as purely evil or purely good. But I have to say that the film scene where Marcello ignores Anna outside the car is pretty powerful. If you really want to create a hateful character, that was surely effective!

In the DVD interviews, Bertolucci also mentions that he showed the film to Moravia who liked it!

Robert, you mentioned that the film was criticized for making ties between homosexuality and fascism and I'm not completely sure I get that. Is Marcello supposed to be a repressed homosexual who seeks out fascism to deny his homosexuality? He does accuse Lino of killing Quaddri at the end of the film which was interesting. I took that more as Marcello continuing to deny his own responsibility. And Anna is also homosexual and she clearly isn't a fascist so I'm not sure if I see this tie.

On a serendipitous silly side note, I happened to watch a fashion show right before viewing The Conformist and the Marc Jacobs Fall 2007 line was based on the film! For those interested, you can see the runway show photos here (check out the runway floor):

I must say they are some beautiful clothes! Visually I thought the Bertolucci film was just stunning. The clothes, the lighting, those enormous (significantly overwhelming) spaces. A real treat for the eyes.

And completely off topic but clothes/film relevant, my favorite film influence on a designer was when Jean Paul Gaultier based a collection on the films of Jacques Tati!

message 32: by Tosh (new)

Tosh | 68 comments And not to get super off topic but William Klein made a film called "Mode in France" where he allowed each big designer to write a short script using their clothing. The one that comes to mind is the Jean Paul Gaultier sequence where it is daily Paris life with the baker, policeman, kids, etc all wearing his clothing. It's pretty great.

Now back to on-topic, I haven't had the chance to see the film due to life, etc. But I think what makes Moravia such a great writer is how he can bring out all the complex feelings and thoughts of Marcello out to the open or to the reader. I am gathering the film is more straight forward. And I did see it, but many years ago. I do remember the park/nature scene which was incredibly intense.

I think Moravia is one of my favorite writers now. He was, but he was someone I forgot to bring up in conversation. Even though whenever anyone asks me what fiction I like, his 'Boredom" and 'Contempt" comes to mind right away. I am hoping that nyrb will eventually come out with a new edition of 'The Conformist.' The book is too good to be out-of-print. A real classic piece of contemporary literature.

message 33: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Robert, I forgot to ask in my previous post but could you elaborate a bit on your previous comment about the Judas theme. I'm not sure I grasped all that was going on there other than the obvious betrayal of a mentor. In the film, the betrayal is certainly far more conscious on Marcello's part.

message 34: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments Just a few brief notes:
Re: Marcello as Judas. I think Marcello (in the novel) is somewhat ambivalent to politics and while he has embraced fascism, it's more because he needs to go along with the mood of the day. I think he justifies his role in the murder by seeing the professor as a willing martyr whose political future rests on Marcello's willingness to betray him.
Re: Moravia's reaction to Bertolucci's film: I've never seen any comment by him save for a reference in a review of "Last Tango" (which Moravia praised with restraint, chiding it for being too intellectual)in which he writes (referring to the sex scenes): "Here Bertolucci confirms the expressive intensity and thematic complexity that were already so notable in "The Conformist'". - never mentioning his own connection to the latter film!
Re: homosexuality. Many critics have accused Bertolucci of equating homosexuality with fascism.
(Vito Russo's "The Celluloid Closet" summarizes the film as "If you sleep with your chauffeur, you'll become a fascist."). In a 1972 interview with Joan Mellen (I couldn't find it online, unfortunately) Bertolucci criticized such complaints as simplistic and says that Marcello's fear that he is homosexual is just one aspect of his personality, feeding on his repugnance of the idea of being "different". In a somewhat lengthy explanation, he suggests that the film is really about choices that Marcello has made in order to conform to the middle class.

and...I'm not familiar with "Mode in France" but I'll have to track it down. Klein is a greatly underrated filmmaker.

message 35: by Kimley (last edited Jan 19, 2008 04:27PM) (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
"If you sleep with your chauffeur, you'll become a fascist."

LOL - yeah, I'm not buying that! As Bertolucci says (and I'm inclined to believe him at his word) that is too simplistic. First of all, both book and film have homosexuality on both sides of the fascist divide and then the small detail that Marcello doesn't actually have sex with Lino nor does he even comprehend as a young boy what Lino wants from him - he merely understands that Lino is cheating him, going back on his promise. To me, the reasoning behind the homosexual aspect of the story is to question this idea of "normal". I love the scene when Marcello goes to confess to the priest (who is more obsessed with the question of his homosexuality than the murder!) and when Marcello tells him of his sexual activity with women saying it's "normal" and the priest says "no, that's not normal!". "Normal" is clearly in the eyes of the beholder - i.e. there is no such thing as normal and therein lies the danger of trying to be "normal". If anything, I think both book and film link this idea of "normal" with fascism.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Marcello is his complete lack of a moral compass. He is so lost as to what is right and what is wrong. As a child, he has this inkling that his lizard killing, cat killing and (supposed) murder of Lino must be wrong and he desperately wants to be punished and yet he never is. He's so confused that he feels the only thing he can do is follow the lead of others. In the book I would be less inclined to say he is evil and more a sort of hollow, lost soul incapable of really being human. He joins the fascist party because he's incapable of making decisions on his own. In the film, I'd say he's more evil and that he becomes a member of the fascist party so that he can get away with this evil. That scene in the end of the film when he acts so cowardly and sacrifices his blind friend to the crowd and blames Lino for Quaddri's murder is pretty telling of his character.

message 36: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments Another thing that Bertolucci says in the Mellen interview is that the story is essentially about choices that Marcello makes; he could just as easily become an anti-fascist as a fascist.
Similarly, Marcello overcompensates over his guilt 9regarding Lino's murder and homosexuality) and his sense that he's a fraud (he doesn't really love his wife but likes the idea of being married) by falling so completely for Lina in Paris. This sends him into completely emotional turmoil because it's the first not unpredictable experience of his adult life. According, because he goes back and forth between love and hate for her (and for his reason for being in Paris) he sees her attempts to seduce his wife as both a reassurance (even his "normal" wife can have a homosexual experience) and another way of reviving his sense of conformity (he can't be in love with therefore he finds a reason to hate her...) As I've said earlier, I find the Paris section of the book stunning... and the film makes his decision to reject Lina and allow the murder to take place even more personal and brutal.
It's pretty clear that Bertolucci was, at this stage of his career, very influenced by Freud (as was Moravia, I suspect), so the ending of the film, so very different from the book, is clearly an example of Marcello having become completely diassociated from his own acts and projecting them onto others - Lino and his blind friend...

I'd also just like to add the personal opinion that "The Conformist" is one of the most beautiful films of all time. The cinematography by Vittoro Storaro and the design by Ferdinando Scarfiotti are simply amazing, and add wonderfully surreal touches to the scenes with Marcello's employers.
(I also love the Georges Delerue score...)

Another random aside... In the early 80s, Bertolucci was supposed to film Hammett's "Red Harvest", a project he worked on for about 7 years (co-writing the script with Jonathan Demme). When that project was delayed (and eventually cancelled), he started working on another Moravia adaptation based on "1934" and hired Ian McEwen to write the screenplay...)

Kimley - I can't imagine a fashion show based on Tati's. What was it like? Supermodels wearing nothing but grey raincoats? Catwalks that end up in dead ends and long hallways?

message 37: by rinabeana (new)

rinabeana | 7 comments I've read about 3/4 of the book today, and I really like it! I'm about to go out, so I'll have to finish it tomorrow, but I wanted to throw up a comment saying I'm so glad I found this group! I think Marcello is an utterly fascinating character study, and I love the writing, which makes me happy since I sometimes feel that I must be losing a lot in translation. It would seem that my school's library has a copy of the DVD, so hopefully I'll be able to watch the film next week. I'll definitely post again when I've finished the book and/or watched the movie.

message 38: by Kimley (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
rinabeana, you read 3/4 of the novel in one day? Look out Brian, you may have some competition for speed reading! But rinabeana, I'm so glad you're enjoying it as much as I did!

And Robert, welcome back our prodigal son and thanks for the Fellini info. I suspect there are quite a few Fellini fans here. And that just reminded me that his film The Voice of the Moon was based on a book by Ermanno Cavazzoni. Sadly the book seems to be out of print now.

Oh things are going to get confusing now that we have two Roberts!

But Robert, since you asked about the Tati clothes... First, let me say that a good raincoat is a must in every well-dressed person's wardrobe and second, I should point out that I have a huge crush on Monsieur Tati (yes I know the dear man is no longer with us, nevertheless) so take my sense of style for what it's worth. But actually the clothes were based on the clothes of the female characters - for example remember the wonderful outfits of the neighbor in Mon Oncle - the pointy hat, the large sarape (rug!). Gaultier pretty much replicated her outfits exactly. And then remember the straight pencil skirt of the secretary that was so tight she could only hop along with that wonderful clackety-clack sound. So the clothes were sort of 50's chic with lots of playful wink-winkery.

OK, back to topic now...

Robert, I agree with you that the parts of the story that take place in Paris are the best. That's where Marcello is somewhat forced to try to think for himself. He, of course, fails miserably but that conflict that takes place within him is interesting and this is obviously the chance he has at redeeming himself but doesn't. And the character of Lina/Anna is pretty interesting. It's never completely clear what her game is. Why is she with the professor? How much does she really know about Marcello - obviously she didn't understand just how much their lives were in danger. Why is she so manipulative? I actually found her character to be somewhat exasperating but I like that she pushed all of Marcello's buttons.

And Robert, I'll also agree with you completely on just how stunning the film is in every respect. Do you have access to the DVD? There are several interviews in the extras with Bertolucci and Storaro and they talk a lot about the look of the film. Very interesting stuff.

message 39: by rinabeana (new)

rinabeana | 7 comments Ha ha ha! I didn't do a lot during the day yesterday except read, so I wouldn't call myself a speed reader, so much as someone with a large amount of time (for once!) on her hands. Also, when I'm really engrossed in a book, the pages tend to fly by. And this one really sucked me in. I did finish it today, and I'm hoping to watch the movie on Tuesday (prior engagement tomorrow night).

message 40: by Robert (new)

Robert | 111 comments A little late , but still of interest: An interview with Bertolucci specifically about "The Conformist" (currently reissued in England) from today's Guardian.,,3...

message 41: by Kimley (last edited Feb 23, 2008 09:38AM) (new)

Kimley | 201 comments Mod
Thanks for that Robert! Really interesting.

I have to say I'm really looking forward to Contempt!

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