NOVECENTO, Bernardo Bertolucci 1976



It took me almost half a year to have courage enough to see this movie, for timing extends up to 5 hours approximately. I’m used to Scorsese extended movies but this was too much, fortunately Novecento is divided into two acts so I watched it in two days.


Bernardo Bertolucci’s magna opera deals with all the political and social changes happened in Italy during the first half of the 20th century reflected into the life of two men, Alfredo and Olmo, born the same day but in different class situation: The first one, was born the landlord’s male grandchild with all his future solved and all commodities at hand, and Olmo Dalcó was a bastard peasant whose family was working for the Berlinghieri’s. Thus, the two sides of the coin are shown constantly: richness versus poverty, freedom and slavery, fascism against socialism and the introduction of modern techniques which made farmers less necessary and landlords richer…


Alfredo and Olmo, friends and enemies

Alfredo and Olmo, friends and enemies



There’s no doubt to cover such period of time the epic style used is perfect, however in my opinion there are lots of contents not necessary to recreate those situations: too much singing, very extended scenes, and lots of issues that don’t contribute to anything but to cause the rhythm of the movie to be excessive slow. I had to drink several coffees to keep awake however it’s true all the first part is slower and more boring than the second. Much timing could had been deleted without affecting the story, in my opinion.


Although there’s a high political content in Novecento, it’s interesting the way the main trends are depicted and even ridiculed, there are more visual symbols than proper explanations, probably because in the countryside people weren’t very much enlightened no mattered their social condition. Probably if I had seen the story 30 years ago I’d taken message more seriously, specially after 40 years of dictatorship, but nowadays it seems too much idealist and wrong.


Bertolucci counts with very established actors nowadays such as Robert de Niro as Alfredo Berlinghieri, Donald Sutherland and Gerard Depardieu and with the legend Burt Lancaster, however, probably because this is an Italian movie and together with dialogues and some characters’ extravagant conducts I find their performances quite forced and overacted.


Still, I must reckon Novecento is a good movie even though many important aspects  are quite outdated, specially those related to politics and freedom.


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