Talking Pictures.

‘This is something that I dream about: to live films, to arrive at the point at which one can live for films, can think cinematographically, eat cinematographically, sleep cinematographically, as a poet, a painter, lives, eats, sleeps painting.’

Bernardo Bertolucci, in Fabien Gerard, T. Jefferson Kline and Bruce Sklarew (eds), Bernardo Bertolucci: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, 2000, p. 27.

Films are something magical. They can transport you to a world of the impossible and implausible, or allow you to simply escape the reality of your own. The quote above, inspired the title of a lecture at The British Institute of Florence, given by James Sholto Douglas, on Bernardo Bertolucci. The lecture was part of the school’s Autumn 2016 Cultural Programme, but it was about this term’s ‘Talking Pictures’ series, which James organises.

You’re probably thinking, what on earth does she mean by ‘Talking Pictures?’ Three times a year (January – March, April – June, September – December), the institute puts together a film series based around a theme, which could be a director or an author whose books have been adapted for cinema. Past titles have included retrospectives on David Lean, Nicolas Roeg, Stanley Kubrick and Antonioni. Themes focusing on Femme Fatales, War, Gods and Monsters, British Realism & Italian Neo-Realism. There have also been some pretty wittily named series, such as Technical Hitch, Wilde At Heart, Austen Power and Will Power.

One film is shown each Wednesday at 20:00, in the atmospheric Sala Ferragamo, Palazzo Lanfredini. The book-lined walls and high ceilings make it feel like a real cinema, but much more intimate. The films are shown in their original language, but they’ll have English subtitles if need be; this is fantastic for those of us learning Italian, as you can really test whether you’ve improved, but can fall back on the subtitles if needed. Before each screening, James introduces the film and hands out notes, which include a cast list, introduction and analysis of the movie. Once it’s finished, he’ll start off a discussion. People really get into this. It’s fascinating how everyone interprets the same thing in completely different ways. These talks really suit the current series, on Bernardo Bertolucci, because he really considers who is viewing his films, which include so many subtleties that are easily missed.

Bernardo Bertolucci’s filmography is fairly extensive, so the B.I.F. retrospective covers as much of it as possible, given the length of the Autumn term. Below is the entire list of Bertolucci’s works, and the ones being screened in the Harold Acton Library on Wednesdays at 20:00 have brackets beside them with the date.

  • 1962 – La Commare Secca (28.09.2016)
  • 1964 – Prima della Rivoluzione (05.10.2016)
  • 1965 – La via del petrolio
  • 1966 – Il canale
  • 1968 – Partner
  • 1969 – Amore e rabbia
  • 1970 – Il Conformista (12.10.2016)
  • 1970 – The Spider’s Stratagem
  • 1971 – La salute è malata
  • 1971 – 12 dicembre
  • 1972 – Last Tango in Paris (19.10.2016)
  • 1976 – Novecento (Part I, 26.10.2016/Part II, 02.11.2016)
  • 1979 – La luna
  • 1981 – Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man
  • 1984 – L’addio an Enrico Berlinguer
  • 1987 – The Last Emperor (09.11.2016)
  • 1989 – 12 registi per 12 città
  • 1990 – The Sheltering Sky (16.11.2016)
  • 1993 – Little Buddha (23.11.2016)
  • 1996 – Stealing Beauty (30.11.2016)
  • 1998 – Besieged
  • 2002 – Ten Minutes Older: The Cello
  • 2003 – The Dreamers (07.12.2016)
  • 2012 – Io e Te (14.12.2016)
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