Jean-Louis Trintignant in The Conformist (1970, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
“Godard was my real guru, you understand? I used to think there was cinema before Godard and cinema after - like before and after Christ. So what he thought about the film meant a great deal to me.
[At the screening], he doesn’t say anything to me. He just gives me a note and then he leaves. I take the note and there was a Chairman Mao portrait on it and with Jean-Luc’s writing. The note says: ‘You have to fight against individualism and capitalism.’ That was his reaction to my movie. I was so enraged that I crumpled it up and threw it under my feet.
…Why do you think Godard didn’t like The Conformist, I ask Bertolucci. It was, after all, partly a trenchant diagnosis of a fascistic mentality. “I had finished the period in which to be able to communicate would be considered a mortal sin. He had not.”
But there might be another reason Godard didn’t like the film. In it, [the assassin] asks for [a targeted dissident teacher’s] phone number and address. “The number was Jean-Luc’s and the address was his on Rue Saint Jacques. So you can see that I was the conformist wanting to kill the radical.”
Indeed, Bertolucci takes evident delight in the fact that, for all Godard’s Maoist contempt for The Conformist, a rising generation of film-makers saw his picture as a revelation. “What always made me proud - almost blushing with pride - is that Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg all told me that The Conformist is their first modern influence.”
Better Book Titles, conceived by Dan Wilbur, is a wit-crit site that reconfigures book titles. Sometimes pithy, sometimes inappropriate, Wilbur posts old book covers with new titles. The Great Gatsby he calls Drink Responsibly. And he reimagines Eric Carle’s children’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar as Eat Until You Feel Pretty.