Friday, 11 February 2011

Novecento - 1900 Twentieth century

1976 by Bernardo Bertolucci

Olma and Alfredo are born on the same day at the beginning of 20th century, former as an illegal son of a peasant in an Estate owned by Alfredo's father. Despite being from two ends of the society, they become friends and this movie is the story about how their friendship is carried forward till their old ages in spite of all the different political scenarios which affect Italy during their life time. Alfredo of course is the bourgeois master through out and Olma the socialist peasant. As a teenager Olma leaves for military service and Alfredo assists and learns the trade with his father. His father has also appointed Attila as his Estate supervisor, who turns out to be a real nightmare for the peasants, a fascist watchdog. By then Olma is back from military service, end of world war I, Italy has turned out a real Fascist country.

Alfredo marries immediately after the death of his father and his wife very soon turns unhappy as Alfredo doesnt seem to act against Attila  and Regena who are despised by the peasants. Attila also have a relationship with Regena who always wanted to marry Alfredo. Together Attila and Regina make a dangerous sadistic couple. Olma's wife dies during the delivery and Alfredo's wife likes his daughter very much. Alfredo also has doubts about the relationship between his wife and Olma. The political scenario changes with the end of war in 1945 and Alfredo is captured by a teenager boy. Alfredo is bought before the peasants court headed by Olma. Olma is keen to save his friend and explains to the peasants that Alfredo the master is already dead and its only Alfredo the man who lives.

This is an epic movie, taking us through Italy in 1900 to 1970's. Beautiful cinematography, some good music and excellent performances complete this film. I have never seen Gerard Depardieux (Olma) in such a young role. He looks so beautiful and is quite a pair with Robert De Nero (Alfredo).

The first half of the movie, I must say is quite slow. However this is made up by the second half which is so well shot. There are so many beautiful moments in this movie and you cant help applaud Bertolucci for that.

The movie is quite long (almost 5 hrs) and I am not sure if I have seen the full version as there are many versions available for this movie.

There was this other Italian epic - Le Meglio Gioventu - which is actually even longer and which I have seen three times. Once I saw it, 6 hours long movie, in a single stretch. I dont think I could do that with Novecento though. 


  1. Good review!

    Dear Rajesh,

    I posted the mail in this ID:
    Since our communication at times goes beyond the public space of comments on your movie reviews, I thought without causing nuisance for the future commentators I must post you it in mail. But this too works, since there is nothing so personal.

    How should I thank you…?!
    I really enjoyed the film Le Meglio Gioventù (Should I say as I enjoyed reading O.V. Vijayan’s “Thalamurakal”/”Khasaakinte Ithihaasam” ?!).
    Then, to suggest you a few good Italian films, I must confess frankly, I watched not even a handful of them.
    And to name one or two those I love:
    Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, La Vita è Bella, La Strada, Guardie e Ladri. (I am quite sure you have watched all of them!)

    I think that it is I who will benefit from this friendship more than you. (Hope you will be generous enough to excuse me for this exploitation of relationship). Life has not given me so many opportunities in the past in any of the fields in which you are interested.
    Although I do not comment on all your posts, you can be sure that I will be reading them as I find time.

    Expecting many more beautiful things from you…

    With love
    Jijo Kurian

  2. Thank you Jijo, I received your mail sometime before.
    Thanks a lot for your nice words and let me repeat I am really happy you saw Le Meglio Gioventu. How I wish our movie personalities watch this film, they will know how to treat serious emotional stuff without getting over melodramatic.