I like movies. Good movies. Takeshi Kitano, Martin Scorsese, Wong Kar Wai, Sam Fuller, Sam Peckinpah, Kubrick, Welles, Soderbergh, Buster Keaton, and yes, Bertolucci. "The Conformist" in particular I find to be stunning. "1900" is the kind of film that makes me lose faith in a great director. It has none of the beauty of "The Conformist". It is terribly acted across the board. Everyone is so far over-the-top that this plays like a comedy more than a historical drama. Even Robert DeNiro, who was just coming off "Taxi Driver", is awful. Donald Sutherland seems to be having fun, but probably because he realized how ridiculous the film was. And has there ever been a more laughable villain than Sutherland in this film? He crushes a cat against a wall, kills a small child by bashing his head against a wall, and impales an old woman on a fence. His character is a bad guy out of thousands of less ambitious films.
Maybe the only one who emerges unscathed from this mess is Sterling Hayden, who doesn't have any scenes in which he embarrasses himself (unlike everyone else in this film) and manages to create a somewhat realistic character.
I don't care if Bertolucci made this film. It's completely inept, devoid of subtlety or intelligence, and terrible in every way. If Bernardo's name wasn't attached to it, people would laugh this film into obscurity. But no, people make excuses for it and for some reason even give it five stars. If possible, I'd give it zero.