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Bernardo Bertolucci: What is the Purpose of Cinema?

Admirers of Bertolucci's work will be anxious to get their hands on this title from the RAI series on Italian directors. Warning: This is one of the least inspired docs.The impersonal RAI footage offers a career overview less in-depth than many magazine articles. Regardless, it will probably find a place in film school libraries.

Admirers of Bertolucci’s work will be anxious to get their hands on this title from the RAI series on famous Italian directors. Warning: This is one of the least inspired docs. It is a chronological compilation of film clips, awards ceremonies and brief period interviews gathered by journalist Sandro Lai. All the master’s 16 films from “The Grim Reaper,” made when he was 21, to “Besieged” (1998) are hurriedly covered, leaving about 3.5 minutes per movie. The stodgy, impersonal RAI footage offers a career overview less in-depth than many magazine articles. Regardless, it will probably find a place in film school libraries.

Pic is stingy with biographical info; for starters, it assumes viewers know Bertolucci’s father Attilio was among Italy’s leading poets. This is how young Bertolucci met Pier Paolo Pasolini, who knocked on the door one day looking, to Bernardo, “like a thief.” Bertolucci became Pasolini’s a.d. on “Accattone” and was initiated into Pasolini’s circle, including writers Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia. Docu offers glimpses of Bertolucci’s politics and cinephilia, as well as his modern view of cinema as being about “actors and reality; the story counts for nothing.”

Bernardo Bertolucci: What is the Purpose of Cinema?

Italy

Production: A RAI production. (International sales: RAI Trade, Rome.) Directed, written by Sandro Lai.

Crew: Camera (color, Betacam), Daniele Piccioni; editor, Giuseppe Baldieri. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 10, 2002. Running time: 57 MIN.

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