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Conflict Between Social Expectation and Personal Fulfillment in Italian Films

Buy custom Conflict Between Social Expectation and Personal Fulfillment in Italian Films essay

Buy custom Conflict Between Social Expectation and Personal Fulfillment in Italian Films essay

Cinematography aroused as a new way to express art in the XX century. During the époque of realism, a new possibility to show the reality using the visual and audio content arose due to the development of cinematography. Besides, it was a critical period for the humanity because of many changes, wars, protests, as well as their consequences. Most of the people were facing external and internal conflicts that they had not experienced before. Totalitarian regimes were set, and the members of such societies became puppets in the hands of cruel dictators. Often individuals faced a choice of staying safe and losing one’s personality or suffering and poverty.

Therefore, these topics became particularly common for the European literature and cinema of the XX century, and especially Italy. It was a country where such famous and talented directors as Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Vittorio De Sica created their artworks. Their films are considered icons for the cinematography. These directors witnessed the processes of historical scale that were taking place around the world at that time. However, the main focus of their work was laid on the deepest parts of the human soul, as well the contradictions and difficulty of choice that it contains through the prism of social phenomena of that period. This approach was typical for the European art inspired by existential philosophy, psychological achievements, and modern and avant-garde trends.

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The Conformist (Il conformista, 1970) was one of the first films that made Bernardo Bertolucci a worldwide famous artist. As the previous director’s films The Conformist concerns many political and social issues. It is known to be a political drama during the Fascist era in Italy and is based on the novel written by Alberto Moravia in 1951.

The main character, Marcello Clerii, is a representative of a wealthy class and because of that was abused in his childhood. Besides, he has an experience of sexual harassment by a man. What is more, Marcello’s situation was also aggravated by the fact that his mother was addicted to morphine and his father was insane. Thus, the negative experiences of his childhood found their reflection in his personality. Marcello Clerici feels that he differs from other people and even is an excessive person. Nevertheless, he wants to fit the society and reach success, which, eventually, leads him to commit cruel acts and make choices between the desire to conform to the community and feel “normal.”  Thus, he decides to become a state employee of the Fascist government. Later, he receives an offer to participate in a mission to Paris. Marcello disguises his task in the capital of France by having a honeymoon there with Giulia, a woman that he had married. This moment can be considered to be a turning point in the film because from that then, the work mission and personal feelings of Marcello get in contradiction.

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Firstly, the main character involves in romantic relationships with Anna, the wife of his former professor and anti-fascist agitator that he was supposed to kill. She allows him to seduce her. At the same time, she is friendly to his wife, Giulia, who does not have any suspicions about the betrayal of her husband. This situation is extremely tense for Marcello. At this moment, a conflict between social expectation and personal fulfillment arises. However, eventually, he starts to feel that he can control the fates of other people. Thus, he offers Anna to stay with him and let her husband go alone on his journey, but she refuses. At that point, Marcello has to make a choice between his mission, happy life with his wife and the feelings that he has for Anna. He also realizes that he is obliged to kill not only Quadri but also the woman he himself had fallen in love with. Nevertheless, the mmain character makes his choice – he decides not want to sacrifice his stable life and social expectation and, despite the feelings for Anna, crying and asking him for help before her death, he remains imperturbable and cruel shooting her without remorse.

The second contradiction appears at the end of the film. The scene takes place in 1943, during the fall of Benito Mussolini and his fascist dictatorship. The excessiveness of his character manifests itself again when Marcello faces the issue of social expectation and personal life one more time. . Thus, he accuses his Lino, a man who abused him in his childhood, in being a fascist in public. At the same time, he draws attention to his companion, and, again, in an attempt to correspond to the new partisan society, he betrays his former friend Italio. Nevertheless, Marcello is not accepted by the new society.

The main problem of the film The Conformist is that the character mixes the states of having normal, appreciated life and being a conformist. In one of the episodes, he says, «I'm going to build a life that's normal. I'm marrying a petty bourgeoise». In fact, Marcello escapes from his independence and the ability to make his choices. Being a conformist in the world where political regimes are rapidly changing means being dependable on people in power. Only a person who realizes his or her own right to decide and has strong lifelong principles will have the opportunity to build a free life in the society. However, despite his utmost desire to fit the existing social order and be “normal”, Marcello remains an outcast due to his twisted mind and cruelty.

Another significant film for the European cinematography appeared on the screen more than two decades earlier than The Conformist. It was directed by Vittorio De Sica in 1948 and called The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di biciclette).

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