Novecento (1976)

Novecento poster

English Title:  1900
Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)
Starring:
 Donald Sutherland, Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu
Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Bertolucci’s sprawling epic about the lives of the owners and workers on an Italian farm from the turn of the century through World War II.

Kitty Carnage Warning! Let’s clarify up front that this movie is NOT cat friendly. Nor child or pig or frog or just about anything else-friendly. So reader be warned!

Near the end of Act One, Attlia (Donald Sutherland),the nasty and evil foreman of the farm who is also a ruthless fascist, is getting fitted with a black suit. As he is trying on the clothes a man is sitting to one side holding a tuxedo cat.

Novecento - 1900 - man holding tuxedo cat in tailor shop with Attila Donald Sutherland

Attila asks for the cat and holds it up, making a political point and saying, “Communists are smart. They play on your human feelings. They’re like this little pussycat.”

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland holding tuxedo cat in tailor shop

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland holding tuxedo cat in tailor shop

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland holding up a tuxedo cat in tailor shop

Attila goes on to say that communism is a disease that will destroy the world and leads the man outside. There he heartlessly straps the cat to the tailor’s sign with a belt.

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland taking off belt while man holds tuxedo cat in tailor shop

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland strapping tuxedo cat to tailor shop sign with belt

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland strapping tuxedo cat to tailor shop sign with belt

The poor cat is in pain and struggling as Attila backs away, saying that if this pussycat has communism, you can’t think about this pussycat, you have to think about and protect all the other pussycats in the world. He then says that they have to destroy the communist and races at the cat, head butting it and crushing it to death. This is not shown in completion so they likely didn’t really crush the cat for the film (the director did not hesitate to show other brutal acts of violence against people and animals without cutting) but the poor cat is clearly in pain while strapped to the sign.

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland backing away from tuxedo cat strapped to tailor shop sign with belt

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland backing away from tuxedo cat strapped to tailor shop sign with belt

In Act Two there is a scene where Attila is with his wife Regina (Laura Betti). She is having a breakdown of sorts and claims someone is watching them from a corner of the room. Attila walks over and throws down a baby carriage, then reaches down and picks up a cat, which he violently flings across the room.

Novecento - 1900 - Attila Donald Sutherland flinging tuxedo cat across room

Finally there is a scene in which an elderly woman named Signora Pioppi (Alida Valli), a nearby landowner who has fallen on hard times and is being victimized by Attila and his wife with the idea of getting her land, goes to a confessional. At one point she pulls a dead cat out of her bag to show the priest, claiming Attila has killed it. It’s not clear if the cat was drugged or a dead cat was obtained for the filming.

Novecento - 1900 - Signori Pioppi Alida Valli pulling dead cat out of her purse in confessional

Novecento - 1900 - Signori Pioppi Alida Valli holding out dead cat to priest in confessional

This is clearly not a film for cat or animal lovers, as there are many other unblinking scenes of animals being killed.

Final Mewsings: Cats should not be killed to make political points.


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