Quite a film, combining lush photography with brilliantly realized scenes, one after another in fact, from the beginning arrival of the train to the ending, set on the waiting platform of the train station, with a story that weaves in and out of the present (1970) and past (1936) about fascism and the difficult and ambiguous forms the opposition took to combat it. Set in Italy's Po River valley in the town of Tara, it beautifully mixes the cinematic elements of plot, music, character, photography, etc... with a story about the well kept secret of how a man's father became a local hero in the struggle against fascism. Like any society caught in repression, the heroes we know today, who led the fight, maybe were forced by the circumstances of the times to take actions that could only be understood in the context in which they took place. Bertolucci does a great in dramatizing that inherent ambiguity that lies under the statue of the popular hero that is in the center of the town. There are some scenes that simply stand out, especially the outdoor dance (1936) where the hero and the fascists eye each other, and then he grabs the prettiest girl there and has all the dance floor while the camera goes from face to face. But in a film that is so well composed, this is but one of the highlights, none of which would mean much if the whole operation didn't have such an astute level of direction guiding it. For a film that relies so much on image, it says a lot, and doesn't squander any of its characters.