Bernardo Bertolucci was only 28, with two features already behind him, when he birthed this high-spirited, subversive 1968 cherry bomb, which adapts Dostoyevsky’s The Double to student-revolution-era Italy, where the wiry, vampiric Pierre Clémenti plays a romantic and causeless rebel whose radical consciousness is awakened once his doppelg appears to incite chaos and spur him on. Or something: Partner is not only an energetic thumb-nosing fossil of ‘60s fragmentation, cinematic upset, and sub-Marxist yowlings, but a double as well, oedipally haunted by the pathfinding precedents of Godard (primary among Bertolucci’s anxious influences were La chinoise and Two or Three Things I Know About Her) and of France itself. (In one of the DVD’s multiple interviews, it’s reported that Clémenti would fly to Paris on the weekends and bring Bertolucci back the latest in protest slogans.) Presaging both Fight Club and Kurosawa’s Doppelgänger, and girded with an Ennio Morricone score as deliberately disjunctive as the narrative, Partner clearly hip-links Freud and Marx, and might be the first conscientiously Lacanian movie. –Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice
Bernardo Bertolucci proved to be Italian cinema’s great prodigy, making his debut The Grim Reaper at the age of 22, and Before the Revolution at the age of 24; achievements comparable to Orson Welles directing Citizen Kane at the age of 25. He was born in Parma in 1940. He initially followed the footsteps of his father Attilio, a noted poet and critic. His poetry received prizes at competitions and a collection of his work was published while he was still a teenager. But his attention was already diverted to the cinema, especially after viewing Godard’s Breathless. His planned transition from poetry to cinema found an accomplice in fellow poet Pier Paolo Pasolini. A family friend, he regarded Bertolucci as a kindred spirit and tasked him as his assistant on his landmark debut, Accattone. The experience, described by Bertolucci as witnessing “the invention of the cinema” further ignited his own ambitions.
The Grim Reaper was based on a story by Pasolini but the resulting film displayed… read more
BFI Southbank's Bernardo Bertolucci season opens this evening with Before the Revolution (1964), features an onstage conversation with the