Sunday, 2 March 2008

Conformist Style

As Friday night was a boozy farewell with my workmates I had to do something different the following night, so off I went to the busy, media centre that is the BFI Southbank to watch one of the most stylish films that I have ever seen, Bertolluci's 'Il Conformista'. It was a visual masterpiece, blurring the lines between photography and art with a masterful display of light, shadow and of course wardrobe! This is the film that made Bernardo Bertolucci's international reputation, The Conformist (based on Alberto Moravia's novel) is equal parts film noir, Freudian melodrama, and political commentary. Unfortunately the volume of quality film stills from the film are few and far between so I will have to use the efforts on youtube to back up these ramblings of an adoring fan.

The opening scenes of the film just made me sit up and listen, the hangover was now long forgotten. We see Trintignant take out his recently acquired accessory (a gun) to complete his new look.
A sensual political period drama, The Conformist (aka Il Conformista) stars the quite brilliant Jean-Louis Trintignant as Marcelo Clerici, a weak-willed Italian who has embraced Mussolini and his Brown Shirts. Encouraged to embrace conformity by his new bride, Giulia (Sandrelli), Clerici finds that his French honeymoon is to double as an attempt on the life of his former teacher (Tarascio), now a political dissident living in exile. Packed off to Paris with a pistol and some great suits, it slowly emerges that Marcelo has a twisted personal history in which sex and violence go hand in hand.

One of my christmas presents was a pair of leather gloves, all I need is a similar hat and I will try and replicate the above look. Obviously the backdrop of Paris and pretty lady as accessory can helps create the stylish scene.

This is a style blog though and in my childish excitement I can stray from the point of this post 'What is the point of this post' I hear you ask, well, the film is a cinemagraphic demonstration of how a man should I want to dress! One of the most visually striking aspects of the film for me was the perfected shirt length. It is always well talked about when discussing men's style and everyone has their own opinon (I like the Sartorialist's take on the matter), mine is that Jean-Louis Trintignant demonstrates how it should be done. Jean-Louis Trintignant is an actor as at home in spaghetti westerns (The Big Silence) as in human dramas (Three Colours: Red). However, he was never more beautiful nor more brilliant than as Clerici.

As it is Mothers Day today you should use the above example of what to wear whilst walking back home with the gift of flowers. Just look at the amouint of cuff on show, the perfect cut of the suit and the commendable choice in headwear. Why on earth don't people dress like this anymore?

I urge you to go and see this film which is almost Wellsian in its baroque flamboyance, all luxurious lighting and colours, sweeping camera movements and ornate design. The emotionally expressive lighting of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro has attracted much comment and acclaim. Storaro – who would go on to win Academy Awards for Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor – describes thus his approach to the scenes set in Fascist Rome: 'I wanted to show through light the idea of claustrophobia, of being caged. I used the idea that light could never reach the shadows, so that there was a distinct separation between the shadows and the light.' . The below clip is one of my favourite parts of the film and beautifully demonstrates why you should see this film.

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