Jean-Louis Trintignant in The Conformist (1970, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci)
“Godard was my real guru, you understand? I used to think there was cinema before Godard and cinema after - like before and after Christ. So what he thought about the film meant a great deal to me.
[At the screening], he doesn’t say anything to me. He just gives me a note and then he leaves. I take the note and there was a Chairman Mao portrait on it and with Jean-Luc’s writing. The note says: ‘You have to fight against individualism and capitalism.’ That was his reaction to my movie. I was so enraged that I crumpled it up and threw it under my feet.
…Why do you think Godard didn’t like The Conformist, I ask Bertolucci. It was, after all, partly a trenchant diagnosis of a fascistic mentality. “I had finished the period in which to be able to communicate would be considered a mortal sin. He had not.”
But there might be another reason Godard didn’t like the film. In it, [the assassin] asks for [a targeted dissident teacher’s] phone number and address. “The number was Jean-Luc’s and the address was his on Rue Saint Jacques. So you can see that I was the conformist wanting to kill the radical.”
Indeed, Bertolucci takes evident delight in the fact that, for all Godard’s Maoist contempt for The Conformist, a rising generation of film-makers saw his picture as a revelation. “What always made me proud - almost blushing with pride - is that Francis Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg all told me that The Conformist is their first modern influence.”