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.