I was first inspired to see Bernardo Bertolucci's film, The Conformist, when I read that critic/director Paul Schrader stated that he watched this every time before starting on a new film project as a director. After seeing the film and the exquisite mise en scene and cinematography employed throughout the film I could understand why he did this. Christopher Wagstaff analyzes Bertulucci's film in BFI: The Conformist (2012). He does this by discussing the "Background" where he compares and contrasts the screenplay from it's adapted source, the novel by Alberto Moravia (Godard's Contempt was also based on one of his novels). Then the "Collaborators" were discussed. Chief among them were his influential editor Franco (Kim) Arcalli, virtuoso cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (also known for Apocalypse Now and The Last Emperor ), and production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti. This is followed by a discussion of the "Narrative" or the main parts of the story. And is in turn followed by a discussion of "Mise en scene and Montage" which is essentially a general discussion of Bertolucci's desire to inject a psychoanalytic element into the film and a shot by shot analysis of images and action that takes place in the film. Wagstaff makes an overt summation of the film in the final section "Sex and Politics," in which he states:
Il conformista is a supremely beautiful artifact. But it brings the viewer no nearer to understanding any but the most orthodox sexual orientation. And while its theme of conformism might on a very superficial level, contribute to explaining why the fascist regime was so tolerated by a politically indifferent Italian populace, it contributes little to an understanding of the politics of fascism and its savage consequences in a historical movement. Perhaps what it does do is illustrate the extent to which all 'messages' are made of 'images,' and all images are illusions projected on one kind of screen or another: the more attractive the image, the more illusory.