special-event-before-the-revolution-oct-20thBEFORE THE REVOLUTION (Prima della Rivoluzione)
Bertolucci was 22 when he made this film about 20 year-old Fabrizio, a radical from a middle-class background who is contemplating joining the Communist party. In a confused swirl of emotions he breaks off his engagement to his highly respectable fiancée and begins a relationship with an aunt ten years his senior. “Bertolucci’s obsession for politics and cinema is openly expressed through this alter-ego and in the extraordinary freedom of his camerawork and editing” – David Thompson, (Cert 12A)
Dir: Bernardo Bertolucci 107 mins Italy 1964
We welcome Alex Marlow-Mann, a specialist in Italian cinema, for the fourth time, to introduce this screening, which will start at 7.30 p.m.

Programme Notes

Before the Revolution (Prima della Rivoluzione)
Italy 1964 107 minutes Cert. 12A

Before the Revolution was Bertolucci’s second feature film, made when he was only 23, and also the first film for which he wrote the screenplay.

Fabrizio, the principal character, is from a privileged background in Parma and, under the influence of his Marxist teacher Cesare, seeks to shed his bourgeois life and to work towards revolution and an ascetic lifestyle. He leaves his beautiful but unsophisticated girlfriend Clelia, and then becomes distracted by his attractive but neurotic aunt Gina, who has come from Milan to stay with the family. His friend Agostino, who he is trying to bring round to his political ideas, commits suicide, which leads Fabrizio to question whether political activism is the central focus of his life.

He is introduced to an older aristocratic man called “Puck”, whose idyllic rural estate is about to be bought and “developed” by businessmen. Fabrizio’s affair with Gina becomes more passionate, despite her mood swings, but he starts to realize that that he is a useless member of society, and that he is helpless to escape from his essentially bourgeois fate.

Bertolucci employs a mixture of styles throughout the film, clearly paying homage to French Nouvelle Vague directors such as Godard.


Gina – Adriana Asti
Fabrizio – Francesco Barilli
Agostino – Allen Midgette
Cesare – Morando Morandini
Clelia – Cristina Pariset
Puck – Cecrope Barilli
A friend – Gianni Amico

Director – Bernardo Bertolucci
Screenplay – Bernardo Bertolucci, Gianni Amico
Cinematography – Aldo Scavarda
Original Music – Ennio Morricone
Editing – Roberto Perpignani
Producer – Mario Bernocchi

“I found the camerawork dazzling, and some scenes were just a pure pleasure to watch.” James McNally, Toronto Screen Shots

We welcome Alex Marlow-Mann, a specialist in Italian cinema, to ABCD for the fourth time to introduce this screening. Dr Mann is Research Co-ordinator in the Department of Film Studies at the University of St Andrews and is the author of The New Neapolitan Cinema (2011, Edinburgh University Press).


“Stimulating. Excellent talk and analysis [from Dr Alex Marlow-Mann].”

“Interesting film by a young director experimenting with a succession of images. A lot of talk [but] not much happening.”

“Sparkling photography! A real gem”

“In cinemaphotography, Bertolucci was years ahead of his time.”

“I loved the photography – all those wet pavements and dark arches. Definitely a film of its time.”

“I loved the crazy shots and editing in the early part of the film, especially the way in which there was often little or no visual confirmation that the characters were listening to each other. Who needs reaction shots? The speaker’s introduction was absolutely invaluable.”

“Interestingly shot”

“Visually very good but …”

“Wonderful cinemaphotography – not sure about the storyline.”

“I thought some shots were very interesting – eg, the long take on Gina’s hair – but the dialogue and behaviour seemed inconsequential, resembling only other Italian art films. The politics didn’t amount to much – very superficial.”

“A lot happening, some longeurs too. Great sense of time and place. Great frogs!”

“Meandered a bit in the middle but picked up at the end. Would have been more interesting if the aunt had been less young and beautiful – ie, more transgressive. Enjoyable all round but definitely inconsequential in feel at times. Not sure if that was deliberate or not.”

“Too many [different] threads – all questions”

“Not bad [but] might have been better if Bertolucci hadn’t been so interested in Godard’s techniques.”

“Long-winded and largely obvious [with] stereotypical characters. Some nice photography in the marshes.”

“Hard to get into”

“Has not aged well! This now seems to be self-indulgent twaddle.”

“Weird, incoherent, illogical and inconsequential – completely exhausting and baffling.”

“A precursor of the Euro-crisis?”

“Music [was] good. A bit too long – but maybe it’s just the seats at Abingdon CFE.”


A:6, B:17, C:13, D:2, E:2 to give 64%