The most famous director of the 1970s
Bernardo Bertolucci, the son of a poet and film critic, was born on March 6, 1940 in Parma. At the age of twenty-two he also became a famous poet, and at twenty won the national award for his collection of poems. Early on, he developed a passion for films. He had previously worked with a 16mm camera, and in 1961, after dropping out of college he assisted the director Pier Paolo Pasolini on his debut Accattone. The following year he made his directing debut, and in a few years achieved the status of the enfant terrible of European film. His films Before the Revolution (1964), Spider's Stratagem (1970) and Conformist (1971), which partly remind us of Godard’s films from the same time, join the modernist trends, aspire to criminal films and bring thematic and world view novelties as well as a fresh breath of contemporaneity. His films are in accordance with the dilemmas of new generations as they take a new approach in the analysis of the nature of fascism and convey an unconventional relationship towards sexual taboos. Also, typical for its time, Bertolucci’s films belong to the dominant international type of films, the so-called political films (Godard, Makavejev, Rosi, Bellocchio, Costa Gavras and others).
During 1970s, Bertolluci became popular in the US as well, partly thanks to his good relations with some American actors (Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro). In this international phase his films, such as Last Tango in Paris (1972), 1900 (1976) and Luna (1979) keep the characteristics of his former films but also offer a newer conglomerate of influences and associations. They are more provocative (Last Tango in Paris was banned), offer a more aggressive mixture of Marxist ideology, Freudianism, decadence, Verdi, the ideology of Russian revolutionary films, spectacles similar to Visconti, aesthetic directorial bravura, variations of commercial formulas sex and violence. Their eclecticism introduces the forthcoming postmodernism. In short: along with Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick and Andrej Tarkovski, Bernardo Bertolucci is the most famous director of the 1970s. However, with the weakening of political films’ influence, as well as the loss of youthful enthusiasm, by the end of the 1970s Bertolucci seemed to have faded. Many liked his new phase in which he calmed down and started to direct more academically. He peaked with the historical film The Last Emperor (1987) for which he won an Oscar. Twenty years have passed since then and early Bertolucci has faded in our memories. Even though he is still active, it seems that too much time has passed without any scandalous film. Even those who are not very fond of such films know that from time to time we need films and authors like that. Indeed, we need films by a new Welles, Godard and the like. (Ante Peterlić)