The Conformist – Mise-en-scène

There are movies that are straight forward and simple to understand without any depth in visual appearances and effects and then there’s the conformist, a movie almost personifying the inside struggle between the two destructive organs- the heart and the brain.The Conformist is a classic example of one of the best cinematographic experiences a film enthusiast can have. Vittorio Storaro and Bernardo Bertolucci created this masterpiece and gave directing a movie and cinematography a whole new meaning and dimension. Marcello, the protagonist wants the society to conform towards a fascist approach to life while accepting him as a part of the very same society where he tries very hard to fit in. Despite being from a fascist community he decided to marry a middle class woman just so he could be accepted by the society. While trying his best to fit into the contradicting society he unknowingly began a war within himself. Forced by his mind to do the things he doesn’t want to do he was mentally caged with contradictory elements of fire and water encasing him.

A very exquisite use of lens filters has been seen throughout scenes in the movie as Vittorio uses colors like orange-red, white & blue to express human emotions in visual form and to make the viewer relate to the character’s feelings. For example, he uses Orange-red colors to portray sexual passion, pleasure and domination while also throwing light on submissive and stereotypical actions.


The match of orange red in the scene above sends passionately submissive signals to the viewers mind.


He used the blue light in the above image to portray a scene that is filled with depth of the character’s presence conveying masculinity. The perfect combination of darkness and light amidst the blue sky shows how intellectually confident the character is about his moves.tc4.png

It’s really creative how Vittorio shows the contradiction inside Marcello by portraying it in the scene above with mere sunlight. The impression of the windows inside the darkened hallway show the convergence of two opposites, a contradiction- darkness and light, coexisting inside out. It shows the conflict developing inside Marcello’s mind. How his own enemy is he, himself.tc8.png

The picture above is the most intelligent work of cinematography as it makes the viewer realize the kind of situation the character is in and the kind of caged emotions she and her husband feel through the portrayal of spaced blinds all around her. The choice of costume is clearly another sign of portrayal of her caged conflict with herself as she believes in completely surrendering herself to her husband and making him her everything. Love isn’t the feeling that envelops her, it’s more of a desire to be accepted so strongly that she would be desperate enough to do anything.


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