Bernardo Bertolucci's Il conformista (The Conformist) (1970), a political drama set in Mussolini's Fascist Italy, is widely recognised as a masterpiece of post-war cinema, a classic of Italian and European cinema and an inspiration for many other film-makers, particularly those of the American New Wave.
Christopher Wagstaff's illuminating study of the film traces its pre-production and production history, considering how Bertolucci adapted Alberto Moravia's source novel for the screen. He provides a careful analysis of Il conformista's formal, stylistic and aesthetic strategies, paying close attention to editing, lighting and mise en scène, and their contribution to the film's impact.
Wagstaff also addresses debates about the sexual politics of the film and its place in a wider political and cultural debate about the legacy of fascism. This special edition of Il conformista is published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BFI Film Classics series.