Now that I am at peace, tied to my roots, I feel I no longer exist
Fabrizio at the end of the film

Fabrizio and Agostino are close friends. But they are very different from today’s Americans of the same age – they didn’t dream about the future profession with its financial rewards and social success. And they never play videogames or watch and listen to the world through high-tech electronic devices/toys, because lucky for them this stuff was only in a process of being invented – consumerism and high-tech entertainment as mass phenomenon didn’t exist. They read books and they perceive the world mainly through their eyes and ears. They didn’t know how seductive and corrupting is the very experience of being entertained and how consumerist habits take from people freedom and independence by putting artificial needs as a prostheses to their bodies and artificial desires into their soul.

Fabrizio (on the right – Francesco Barilli) and Agostino are occupied not so much with living (like we understand it today – as consumption of banknotes and things we think we need and like), as with life (life’s essence) – how is it structured and organized, is it moral and humane enough, how far are we from totalitarian/authoritarian system, do we treat other people with enough attention and compassion. In American jargon Fabrizio and Agostino are “intellectuals”, but they are too young to occupy professional positions and they don’t dream about their future professions – they freely discuss life. And they try to be serious (responsible) in their perception of life.

Agostino (to the right – Allen Midgette) and Fabrizio discuss “democratic capitalism”, which for the both is something like a confusing mixture of circus and battlefield (greed and generosity, chewing and spitting, sobriety and irrationality, desire for peace and obsession with wars and weaponry, crisp prosperity and rotting poverty, etc.) For Agostino this problem of incompatibility of norms of life is personal, not like for Fabrizio – Agostino is intolerant of the views his father and mother hold, yet he is tormented by his love for them, while Fabrizo is just distant from his family’s life without any mutinous or caring moods.

In a pseudo-cheerful despair of a possible liberation Agostino demonstrates to his friend – how to fail in even the simple among the tasks, contrary to a society which despotically teaches “the sons of the bourgeoisie” to have a determination leading to triumphant success. Several times Agostino showed Fabrizio some bike-anti-tricks – by victoriously falling!

It was his last gift to his friend – to show him his unconditional refutation to follow the logic of greed, calculation and manipulation and trying always to be ahead and on the top. Of course, Fabrizio, typical son of the wealthy, who never allowed himself to be too sensitive, could never grasp that Agostino might be in danger of committing suicide. He thought that his friend being just foolishly theatrical.

What to do and how to continue to live? For both this question becomes more and more unresolvable. Fabrizio was becoming more and more irritated with life and especially with the revolutionary ideology. But for Agostino disappointment and anger were not enough, and what could be enough he didn’t know. They never talked about homosexuality. Each of them perceived reality through thinking, through their ideological position vis-à-vis the human world. Homosexual embrace couldn’t solve for them anything – for both of them it would be just a retreat from reality of societal life, surrender to sentimentality of consolation through the flesh, failure of thinking as an attempt to find a solution for living.

Fabrizio’s intellectual dogmatism made him less and less real for Agostino. For serious intellectual challenge dogmatic solution is a shameful defeat, like, on the other hand, retreat into homosexual cave. Intellectual corrosion of the surrender to particular ideological doctrine is an equivalent of asking support from emotions or flesh. But for both, Fabrizio and Agostino history is not about emotions or flesh, but about the human mind.

The both friends devoted to their exceptional friendship met the point of defeat of their relationship. Agostino drowned in the river – committed suicide, while Fabrizio, helped by a frivolous affair with his aunt has soon decided to do what he was desperately resisting for several years – he is married to a good-looking girl from the family of comparable wealth. Agostino was rather psychologically supported by his acrobatic failures on his bike, but Fabrizio through his marriage with its conventional stability has lost himself and became even less sensitive than before (“now that I am at peace, tied to my roots, I feel that I no longer exist.”)