Sunday, 10 April 2011

BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI important to listen to although it was sunny

The British Film Institute is becoming so interesting that if you are not a member you should be.  Last night I rushed from doing my garden in Chelsea, to one of the most important lectures of my life. Bertolucci's reputation runs before him, he is a realist, and for me a visual fantasist too.
I have memories of watching  The Last Emperor in 1987, a feast for my eyes.  So I was very happy to dash over to the very busy BFI to catch a glimpse of one of my most favourite directors in conversation. I so enjoyed The Dreamers that I have vowed to myself that the first man to race me through The Louvre I shall marry. A sensual, erotic and claustrophobic film that I love.

Bernardo is interested in Freud, moody lighting, politics and sex.  Two of these are no no's for polite conversation, but he should be listened to.
Bernardo was a member of the Communist party.  The Conformist in 1970, was Magritte mixed with Rigoletto is one of my favourite films. Then there was Last Tango, almost banned for it's over erotic content.  What prudes the people were in 1972, when most people were sleeping around.?  It was a story of an older man, Marlon Brando stuck together with Maria Schneider.

When asked whether he had seen any interesting films he laughed.  "Yes" he said "Mulholland Drive, I like to go to movies because it takes you back, you don't need to choose, but then you go and choose"
He weaves sentences like he weaves his films.  When asked where a train station was, he said " It could be anywhere, Guiseppe Verdi was born there, Tours? Investigation"  He answers the audiences question with wit.
Asked about how he approaches reality.  He answers  "Reality is different every time, it nourishes movies. The minute however you make the camera ready, it dies, as Cocteau says.  The manipulation of reality should only be noticed by the director, fake is not good if it is noticed".

Bernardo's father was a recognised poet loving most of all French and English literature.  His brother Guiseppe was also a talented film maker without the luck of his brother.  So out of this intellectual family and with the world looking on, Bertolucci was born creating work that was both visually exciting and comparable to Visconti, but also creating intimate situations with difficult and unexpected dialogue.  Italy had just come out of 20 years of Fascism and five years of war.   The films were dreaming, and he believes that if person does not dream, they will go mad.  If not they will need a big dose of chemicals".
There is so much to say about this man that it would take a 20,000 word essay.

"I love La dolce vita, the clashing of languages,  Fellini created Rome, before this film it had not existed".  Fellini invited Bertolucci to see it,  he said "Roman aristocracy was invented from this film, and Rome became Rome after the film.

Change is coming now, nothing has been challenging for ages but now it's coming again. "It is not the moment for a manifesto, because it is the moment"



Afterwards the BFI kindly invited me to dinner where I sat next to John Hurt, so as you can imagine I did not want to leave.

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