Teatro Auditorium Manzoni > 16:30


Bernardo Bertolucci


Monday 31/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

At least half of the film is blue like some of Magritte’s paintings because I shot a lot during the brief interlude of light between day and evening. It’s a color you get only for a few minutes after the sun has set in summer, if you film without using filters. It’s a very special, distinct blue that all cameramen dreaded at the time. We started shooting when a normal cameraman would have said “stop”.

Bernardo Bertolucci in Enzo Ungari, Scene madri di Bernardo Bertolucci, Ubulibri, Milano 1982

The Spider’s Stratagem… A film from 1969. Forty years ago. Wow, so long ago! It seems like yesterday. What a great ambience there was, buzzing with the enthusiasm and professional expertise of people who believed in what they were doing and felt useful. What lights, what atmosphere, and the evenings spent talking and talking in the little restaurant in Sabbioneta. What characters, what individuals: the legendary Alida Valli (Draifa), the grotesque and tragic Tino Scotti (Costa), Pippo Campanini (Gaibazzi), the witty culatello artist, the thirtyyear- old Bernardo Bertolucci who was full of energy and imagination, the even younger Vittorio Storaro already on his way for luminous undertakings. What an atmosphere! I admit to being caught in that spider’s web spun with threads of poetry, love, passion and dedication creating hope for a less boorish world. Nostalgia? And how! I love this film. I shoot it and re-shoot it continuously on the set of my memory

Giulio Brogi, Catalogue of the Estoril Film Festival, December 2008

It was Strategia del ragno rather than The Conformist (made just afterward and released the same year) that renewed my faith in [Bertolucci’s] talent. Both movies, like Before the Revolution and Partner, were the flamboyant expressions of a guilt-ridden leftist, a spoiled rich kid with a baroque imagination and a social conscience that yielded dark and decadent ideas about privilege and guiltless fancies about sex. Where they differed for me was in the degree to which The Conformist succumbed to fashionable embroidery, a stylishness that took the place of style. It was the relatively big budget The Conformist, an adaptation of an Alberto Moravia novel, that made Bertolucci’s name in the world market and so influenced American movies that Coppola’s Godfather trilogy would have been inconceivable without it. But it was the more ponderous and adventurous Strategia del ragno – a TV commission adapted from a Jorge Luis Borges story, Theme of the Traitor and the Hero – that showed Bertolucci truly grappling with his material and not merely with his markets. His mise en scène may have overwhelmed his content, marking him as a mannerist, but there was nothing glib about that content, and the mise en scène was more than just decorative. But both elements were too European to capture the American market – unlike the glossier The Conformist, so decorous it suggested one of Marshall Field’s window displays.

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Back in Style, “Chicago Reader”, 11 June 1999

Cast and Credits

Sog.: ispirato al racconto Tema del traidor y del heroe (1944) di Jorge Luis Borges. Scen.: Marilu Parolini, Edoardo De Gregorio, Bernardo Bertolucci. F.: Vittorio Storaro, Franco Di Giacomo. M.: Roberto Perpignani. Scgf.: Maria Paola Maino. Int.: Giulio Brogi (Athos Magnani figlio/padre), Alida Valli (Draifa), Pippo Campanini (Gaibazzi), Franco Giovannelli (Rasori), Tino Scotti (Costa). Prod.: Giovanni Bertolucci per RAI-TV e Red Film. DCP. D.: 110’. Col.