The ’60s Romantic Drama that Shaped Martin Scorsese’s Film Journey


“Before the Revolution,” directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and released in 1964, holds significant importance in the cinematic journey of acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese. The film, despite being made by Bertolucci at the young age of 23, resonated deeply with Scorsese, influencing and shaping his early aspirations and creative endeavors in filmmaking.

The movie itself, characterized by its dreamy and lyrical style, is less focused on a cohesive plot and more on evoking emotions and a sense of cultural and ideological turmoil. Set in Parma, Italy, it follows Fabrizio, a student from a privileged background who joins the Communist Party, feeling torn between his class origins and his newfound political beliefs. This internal struggle serves as a central theme, portraying the desire for revolution and ideological conflict, themes that resonated with Scorsese on a profound level.

Scorsese acknowledged the impact of “Before the Revolution” on his artistic journey during an interview with Edgar Wright, expressing how the film had a profound influence on him. He was drawn to the joyous spirit and depth of culture depicted in the movie, despite not belonging to the same cultural background. The film’s ability to capture a particular cultural and political milieu, even though distant from Scorsese’s own experiences, inspired him to seek a similar level of expression in his filmmaking.


Scorsese highlighted the influence of Italian cinema from that era, mentioning other films like Marco Bellochio’s “Fists in the Pocket” and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Accattone,” all of which fueled sentiments that contributed to the anti-establishment movements of the 1960s. The depiction of youth protests and cultural revolutionaries in Bertolucci’s later film “The Dreamers” resonated deeply with Scorsese, reflecting his identification with young, film-obsessed individuals seeking change.

The influence of “Before the Revolution” on Scorsese’s work is evident in his early films like “Who’s That Knocking on My Door?” and “Mean Streets.” These movies began to channel elements of Scorsese’s own background and experiences, exploring themes of cultural identity, conflicts, and the struggle of growing up between two distinct worlds.

Scorsese’s admiration for Bertolucci’s ability to express personal feelings about one’s world through cinema and the desire to bridge cultural niches serves as an essential lesson for aspiring filmmakers. The film’s impact on Scorsese’s creative journey underscores the importance of finding one’s voice and creating art that reflects personal experiences and perspectives.

“Before the Revolution” remains an essential piece of cinema that profoundly affected Scorsese’s artistic trajectory and is available for rental on Amazon, showcasing its enduring influence on filmmakers across generations.