Tag Archives: Before the Revolution

XL Popcorn – Before The Revolution

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 786/1007Title: Prima della rivoluzione (Before the Revolution)
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Year: 1964
Country: Italy

If I have to watch another film for the 1001 list that uses incest as a plot point in a male protagonists maturation, I am going to have to rage quit the film. Granted this blood-related aunt-nephew sexual relationship isn’t as heinous as the mother-son incident in Murmur of the Heart, but in both instances the protagonist is acting as a surrogate for the director so I have serious questions. Especially as, if the genders were reversed, I can imagine there being more outrage within online reviews. Anyway, now that is out of my system, let’s talk about the non-incest elements of the film.

Before the Revolution might be, and I am happy to be corrected here, the first time I have seen a non-Fellini Italian film from the 1960s that could be described as Italian New Wave. It’s been a decade since I saw 8 1/2, but the was a film I remember just shrugging my shoulders at. Pretty much my general reaction to the French New Wave films, with some notable exceptions, so it’s little wonder that Before the Revolution inspired the same reaction.

There’s stuff here that I can appreciate, but so much of what critics see as exceptional just went over my head because the overall style of this cinematic movement just makes me want to do the whole “smallest violin” shtick towards the protagonist. I mean this is a guy who ultimately talks big, thinks about revolution and then just ends up marrying into the middle class as he ultimately chooses to take the easy option. Sure, he has sex with his aunt along the way, but this is not a revolutionary narrative and the characters are ultimately frustratingly shallow.

The only character who is actually interesting is the aunt, but she’s also a stock character – the psychologically damaged love interest with past experiences being the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ of this era. Again, her characterisation is ultimately shallow, but at least you can toss around some idea about her motivations outside of the ordinary.

Characters and story aside, there are two things that are noteworthy here. First is the score by Ennio Morricone, who that same year also did his first score for the Fistful of Dollars trilogy. Secondly, is the direction by Bertolucci. In terms of direction, New Wave is never going to be my favourite genre, but there are some beautiful pieces of camerawork here and that is what makes you want to keep going even if the story is getting a bit tiresome.