Before the Revolution  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Before the Revolution (Template:Lang-it) is a 1964 Italian romantic drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. It stars Adriana Asti and Francesco Barilli and is centred on "political and romantic uncertainty among the youth of Parma".

The film, strongly influenced by the French New Wave, was shot between September and November, 1963. The shooting took place in Parma and its surroundings, one scene being filmed in the camera ottica (optical chamber) at the Sanvitale Fortress in Fontanellato. It premiered on 9 May 1964 at the 17th Cannes Film Festival during the International Critics' Week. Although the initial reception was only lukewarm, it has since become widely respected by critics, praised for its technical merit and music and is included in the book in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, where Colin MacCabe refers to it as "the perfect portrait of the generation who were to embrace revolt in the late 1960s". A retrospective of the film was given at the BFI Southbank in London.


Parma, 1962. Fabrizio (Francesco Barilli) a young student, struggles with reconciling middle class life with his interest in the militant views of the Italian Communist Party. He has a serious discussion his best friend Agostino (Allen Midgette) who tells him of his hatred for his parents' way of life. He is caught between relying on the Catholicism of his parents and the Marxist ideas touted by Fabrizio.

Fabrizio is shocked when he learns of Agostino's drowning in the Po River. He interviews local youths who were there when it happened and becomes convinced that Agostino committed suicide. Fabrizio imagines that his friend's hatred for his parents was really hatred of himself. His despair causes him to break up with his girlfriend Clelia (Cristina Pariset), an apolitical, but pretty girl from a respectable family who he associates with the middle class life he's now desperate to avoid. His sudden restlessness causes his parents to invite his mother's beautiful younger sister Gina (Adriana Asti) from Milan to stay with family. After some discussion about death and the meaning of life, Fabrizio and Gina begin a passionate sexual relationship. Fabrizio introduces Gina to his former teacher Cesare (Morando Morandini), who is responsible for his interest in Communism. They read from various philosophical works and reflect on Italy's fascist past.

Later Fabrizio runs into Gina coming out of a hotel with a man she met in the street. After harshly confronting her, Fabrizio leaves angrily. Gina sobs on the phone to her psychoanalyst about her inability to sleep and her constant anxieties. Although we only hear her side of the conversation, it's clear she has had some serious mental health issues. It is implied that her trip to Parma was suggested by her therapist to help her get away from problems at home. Fabrizio tries to distract himself by going to the movies with a friend who waxes poetic about how morality can be expressed through camera angles.

Fabrizio and Gina spend the day with Puck (Cecrope Barilli), an old lover and friend of Gina's who has been living off land owned by his father his entire life and has never held a job. He is unashamed because he's a creature of habit. This strikes a chord in Fabrizio (jealous of Gina and Puck's intimacy) who lashes out at Puck. Gina slaps him for being rude to her friend. Fabrizio realizes that Puck is himself in 30 years. Children of the bourgeoisie cannot ever escape their past. Gina returns to Milan shortly thereafter.

Left alone, Fabrizio becomes more conscious of his own weaknesses and his inability to realize his aspirations and political ambitions. He finally disavows the Communism revolution and chooses to go along with what is expected of him. He vows to forget politics and his Aunt Gina and marries his former girlfriend Clelia. Years later, Fabrizio and his wife run into Gina outside the opera. He is amazed to discover that she still affects him in the same way. Gina takes him by the hand and leads him back to his wife and quickly walks away.


  • Adriana Asti as Gina
  • Francesco Barilli as Fabrizio
  • Allen Midgette as Agostino
  • Morando Morandini as Cesare
  • Cristina Pariset as Clelia
  • Cecrope Barilli as Puck
  • Evelina Alpi as the little girl
  • Gianni Amico as a friend
  • Goliardo Padova as the painter

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Before the Revolution" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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