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No Shame Films presents
Partner (1968)

"Why does he always follow me...like a black cat?"
- Jacob (Pierre Clementi)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: October 24, 2005

Stars: Pierre Clementi
Other Stars: Tina Aumont, Sergio Tofano, Stefania Sandrelli
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 01h:47m:59s
Release Date: October 25, 2005
UPC: 882853000495
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+AB+ A+

DVD Review

Filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci is best known for award-winning, mainstream films like The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky, and the recent The Dreamers. However, like all great directors, Bertolucci had to start semi-small, and in his native country. One of his earliest films is Partner (1968), an Italian film full of political undertones that were very true to the turmoil of the times. However, such themes have alienated audiences who aren't aware of their historic significance, but No Shame has released a wonderful 2-disc set of Partner, giving those who have studied 1968 Italy the chance to enjoy this forgotten gem.

In 1968, a series of student riots ravaged Paris, sending shock-waves throughout the region and its neighboring countries. These riots stemmed from a decade-long political and cultural struggle that had built up to a boiling point. The strife wasn't Bertolucci's only influence for Partner, though, as the subject matter is clearly inspired by the works of Freud, Karl Marx, and even Jean-Luc Godard and his French New Wave Cinema.

Partner tells the tale of Jacob (Pierre Clementi), a revolutionary who also happens to suffer from schizophrenia. He spends much of his time plotting a social upheaval that will single-handedly change the state of post-war Italy. Jacob devises this plan with a mysterious man whom he shares an apartment with, although they argue quite a bit in-between philosophical and political discussions. Jacob shakes things up when he falls for the daughter (Stefania Sandrelli) of someone from the university. This new love instantly puts his political scheming at risk and doesn't make his "partner" happy either.

Partner wouldn't be half the film if it wasn't for the mesmerizing performance by Pierre Clementi. His work as Jacob is equally haunting and sad, and this Frenchman among a mostly Italian cast doesn't seem fazed at all by the cultural differences, especially impressive given the intense subject matter. Clementi is a study in what distinct features, both physical and facial, can bring to a performance, and if you spend some time, possibly in a second viewing of the film, just watching the actor's facial movements, you'll get a feel for just how effective he is.

Bertolucci does a wonderful job setting the surreal tone, showing us Jacob first sitting alone in a café, then walking into an apartment and seemingly shooting a piano player. If this seems odd, it's only the beginning of the adventurous chances that this now somewhat-straight laced filmmaker took in this early project. He also takes many risks in maintaining this tone, using odd, yet interesting camera movements that were way ahead of their time. These are methods that we would expect from today's visionary directors, and, even though his films since have been praised as straightforward masterpieces, Partner makes you wish Bertolucci had stuck with films like this, one that deserves a place among the foreign film elite.

The easiest comparison to make is to the brilliant, modern classic, Fight Club. The similarities are glaring, but don't go into Bertolucci's film thinking you're going to see the same style of film. Partner relies quite a bit on the viewer having at least some feel for the culture of the times, and isn't the mind-bending, visual delight that David Fincher's masterpiece is, but it is a classic in its own right, one that will leave unsuspecting film fans wanting to watch it again and again.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This brand new 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer has been drawn directly from the original film negatives. It's simply amazing what's been done to make Partner look as good as new. For starters, the bright, vivid colors are perfectly rendered, with not even a single instance of bleeding or other blemishes. It's incredible just how little grain and dirt are evident, possibly the best benefit of the restoration process in this case.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The original Italian mono track has been salvaged and fine-tuned as well, allowing each and every distinct line of dialogue to be clearly heard. The haunting score is also well represented, and other sound effects are worked nicely into the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Lost & Found - Silent screen test and outtakes
  2. Poster and Still Gallery
  3. His Day of Glory - 1969 feature film by director Edoardo Bruno.
Extras Review: This excellent extras collection begins on Disc 1, where we find an incredible interview with Bernardo Bertolucci entitled Dreams from the Other Side. This 38-minute talk finds the director telling us all there is to know about the making of Partner and the political climates in Italy and France in the 1960s.

To Edit a Partner is an 18-minute interview with editor Roberto Perpignani, where he goes into the intricate details of what went into coming up with the finished film.

Also on Disc 1 is a poster and still gallery and Lost & Found, nine minutes of uniquely candid footage showing Pierre Clementi's silent screen test, as well as a few outtakes from Partner.

Disc 2 has the major bonus of the set, as it centers around Edoardo Bruno's film, His Day of Glory. This 83-minute feature was originally an official selection at the Berlin Film Festival in 1969, and was the subject of endless discussion following its premiere due to its political subtext. Through the years, it's been rarely seen, considered lost by many, but it is nicely restored for this DVD (yet it hasn't been cleaned up nearly as much as Partner).

We then get extras that center on His Day of Glory, including Back to Glory, a 35-minute interview with director Edoardo Bruno, where he touches on his long-lost classic film. This segment is almost as entertaining and informative as Dreams from the Other Side on Disc 1.

There's also Bits of Glory, 12 minutes of silent footage that includes Lour Castel and Laura Troschel's screen tests and some on-camera rehearsals, and even captures Edoardo Bruno rehearsing his actors.

Finishing up this disc is another poster and still gallery.

Extras Grade: A+


Final Comments

No Shame has done a remarkable job bringing Partner to the masses with this two-DVD set. The film itself has been cleaned up and polished, and the audio is solid too, but the real gem of the set is on the second disc, in the form of the seemingly lost film His Day of Glory, by director Edoardo Bruno. This is an incredible delight for fans of foreign cinema.


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