The film opens with Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) in Paris finalizing preparations to assassinate his former college professor, Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio). It frequently returns to the interior of a car driven by Manganiello (Gastone Moschin) as the two of them pursue the professor and his wife.
Through a series of flashbacks, we see him discussing with Italo, a blind friend, his plans to marry, his somewhat awkward attempts to join the Fascist secret police, and his visits to his morphine-addicted mother at the family’s decaying villa and his unhinged father at an insane asylum.
In one of these flashbacks we see him as a boy during World War I, who finds himself isolated from society by his family’s wealth. He is socially humiliated by his schoolmates until he is rescued by chauffeur Lino (Pierre Clémenti). Lino offers to show him a pistol and then makes sexual advances towards Marcello, which he partially responds to before grabbing the pistol and shooting wildly into the walls and into Lino, then flees from the scene of what he assumes is a murder.
In another flashback Marcello and his fiancee Giulia discuss the necessity of his going to confession in order for her parents to allow them to marry, even though he is an atheist. He agrees, and in confession admits to the priest to having committed many sins, including his homosexual experience with Lino, the consequent murder, premarital sex, and his absence of guilt for these sins. Marcello admits he thinks little of his new wife but craves the normality that a traditional marriage with children will bring. The priest is shocked — apparently more by Marcello’s homosexuality than the murder — but quickly absolves Marcello once he hears that he is currently working for the Fascist secret police, called Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism (OVRA).
The Conformist (Italian: Il conformista) is a 1970 political drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. The screenplay was written by Bertolucci based on the 1951 novel The Conformist by Alberto Moravia. The film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Stefania Sandrelli, and features Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio, Fosco Giachetti, José Quaglio, Dominique Sanda and Pierre Clémenti. The film was a co-production of Italian, French, and West German film companies.
Bertolucci makes use of the 1930s art and decor associated with the Fascist era: the middle-class drawing rooms and the huge halls of the ruling elite.
The Conformist (1970)
Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio, Fosco Giachetti, Dominique Sanda
Screenplay by: Bernardo Bertolucci
Production Design by: Ferdinando Scarfiotti
Cinematography by: Vittorio Storaro
Film Editing by: Franco Arcalli
Costume Design by: Gitt Magrini
Set Decoration by: Osvaldo Desideri
Music by: Georges Delerue
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: October 22, 1970