Bernardo Bertolucci, along with co-scenarist Gianni Amico, used Dostoievski's 1846, pre-imprisonment novella The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which they moved to Italy and updated to the pro-Vietcong student-protest present,
The American artist couple Port and Kit Moresby travels aimless through Africa, searching for new experiences that could give new sense to their relationship. But the flight to distant regions leads both only deeper into despair.Written by
Thomas Manhardt <Thomas.Manhardt@wu-wien.ac.at>
First theatrical feature film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci after his multi-Oscar nominated film The Last Emperor (1987) which had been made and released about three years earlier, and had won 9 Academy Awards, including the top statuette gong for Best Picture, winning in each and every one of the nine categories that film had been nominated for. See more »
The crew is reflected in the mirror when Kit gets out of bed alone. See more »
Well, terra firma.
We're probably the first tourists they've had since the war.
Tunner, we're not tourists. We're travelers.
Oh. What's the difference?
A tourist is someone who thinks about going home the moment they arrive, Tunner.
Whereas a traveler might not come back at all.
You mean *I'm* a tourist.
Yes, Tunner. And I'm half and half.
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It's hard to understand why this film doesn't get better reviews. Yes of course it's a reflective arty film where evoking feelings is more important than narrative drive. The amount of nudity, though in keeping with the story, does perhaps hinder its being taken seriously by some.
Surely though it succeeds as well as any film has in painting a cinematic picture of the experience of being a stranger in a strange land? The cultural barriers, dissonances, language, the maze of similar streets - everything comes together to create the feeling of utter helplessness Kit experiences when she tries to get help for the ill Port. The confusing weird relationships, often only partially depicted in the film heighten the sense of being adrift in life.
Together with some of the best ever desert cinematography rivaling even Lawrence of Arabia, North African music, noises, characters and colors this film is a rich feast for the senses indeed. And what a wonderful final voice-over, one of the most deep and thought-provoking lines in all the movies.
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