Before the revolution = Prima della rivoluzione

Italy, 1964

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Bertolucci’s second film, made at the preposterous age of 22, is a stunning examination of a young man caught between attraction for his bourgeois past and his faith in the revolutionary future of Marxism. Utilising an elliptical and experimental mise-en-scene, the film is a confident exploration of the movie medium. In formal setpieces, such as the film’s climax in a Parma Opera House, the film prefigures the distinctly personal cinema of spectacle that Bertolucci was to pioneer in the seventies. Inspired by Stendhal’s “The Charterhouse of Parma”, “Before the Revolution” is filled with literary, cinematic and political references reflecting the young director’s impatient and enthusiastic interrogation of his decaying class and society. The title comes from a quote by Talleyrand: “Only those who lived before the revolution know the sweetness of life.”

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Bernardo Bertolucci

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Iride Cinematografica



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VHS; Access Print (Section 1)



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