A storyteller whose tales are both intimate and epic, both subjective and expansive, and most compellingly both personal and political, Bernardo Bertolucci is ripe for reappraisal. The writer/director elicited from his actors stunning performances and from his collaborators no-less stunning visuals. This retrospective spans two decades and includes all of his Italian film work (as well as films by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Sergio Leone to which he made significant contributions) leading up to his reinvention as an international director with Best Picture Oscar winner The Last Emperor. These works burn with an intensity evincing their creator’s drive—after attaining recognition as a poet and serving as an assistant to the iconoclastic Pasolini, the Italian prodigy made his first film, The Grim Reaper, when barely out of his teens. The films that followed could be incendiary and controversial, and today can still startle audiences out of comfort zones just as their protagonists can shock themselves.
Special thanks to Luce Cinecittà