Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ability to simultaneously embrace conflicting philosophies—he was both a Catholic and a Marxist; a modern-minded, openly gay man who looked to the distant past for inspiration and comfort; a staunch leftist who at one point in the late sixties infamously spoke out against left-wing student protests (sympathizing instead with the working-class police)—was matched by the multifariousness of his professional life, as a filmmaker, poet, journalist, novelist, playwright, painter, actor, and all-around intellectual public figure. What he is best known for, however, is undoubtedly his subversive body of film work. He was a student of the written word, and among his earliest movie jobs was writing additional dialogue for Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (1957). Soon he was directing his first film, Accattone (1961), a tale of street crime whose style and content greatly influenced the debut feature of his friend Bernardo Bertolucci, La commare secca (1962), for which Pasolini also supplied the original story. The outspoken and always political Pasolini’s films became increasingly scandalous—even, to some minds, blasphemous—from the gritty reimagining of the Christ story The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) to the bawdy medieval tales in his Trilogy of Life (1971–1974). Tragically, Pasolini was found brutally murdered weeks before the release of his final work, the grotesque, Marquis de Sade–derived Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), still one of the world’s most controversial films.
Forty years after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s violent death we focus on two more or less unknown films in which the director was involved: La ricotta (part of the RoGoPaG omnibus film) and Pasolini’s episode of the film La rabbia.
Film program at h 19.15:
Language: Italian Subtitles: English
La ricotta (Curd Cheese, Italy, 1963, total film: 122 min)
La ricotta is a segment of RoGoPaG (an acronym for the four participating filmmakers: ROsselini, GOdard, PAsolini en Gregoretti) that questions the role of the church on earth: what good are piety and redemption when people are allowed to starve to death? In the film-within-the film, a film company decides to shoot a film about the Passion of Christ. The film led to blasphemy charges against Pasolini, which were directly provoked a striptease scene which Mary Magdalene was asked to carry out in front of a couple of bored crew members. The prosecutor also claimed he was able to demonstrate that the Good Thief, Stracci, who had previously also acted in Accattone, was tied to the cross but had an orgasm with his hands unbound as he was watching the striptease. To every unbiased viewer, however, it was obvious that Stracci, after having gorged himself in his uncomfortable position on the cross, choked to death on his food. Pasolini was sentenced to four months in prison, lodged an appeal and was eventually cleared.
La rabbia (Rage, Italy, 1963, 104 min)
A documentary in which two filmmakers offers a portrait of the times using the same source material. The first half was produced by the left-wing intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini, the second half by the conservative Roman-Catholic Giovanni Guareschi. Using historical found footage, Pasolini attempts to answer the existential question: Why do fear and disaffection dominate our lives? The poet and filmmaker analyses modern life in his poetical film essay La rabbia.
Film program at h 21.30:
Pasolini (France, Belgium, Italy, by Abel Ferrara, 2014, 84 min)
Language: English Subtitles: Dutch
Pier Paolo Pasolini (Willem Dafoe) is fifty, and lives in the rowdy Rome of the 1970s. He has just finished shooting his latest film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, a film that has shocked both critics and audiences. Pasolini is increasingly opposed by the people, critics and politicians, both for hishomosexuality, and because he is considered impulsive and scandalous in showing his reality to the public. Pasolini is going to shoot a new film (which was never made), in which he cast the famous actor Eduardo De Filippo (Ninetto Davoli) and the young Ninetto Davoli (Riccardo Scamarcio)–with whom he has a special relationship. While Pasolini is working on the film, his mother (Adriana Asti) and his sister try to dissuade him from the project, because it turns out to be too wild and visionary for the Italian public.
Pasolini continues with his work, missing many interviews with journalists. One day he falls in love with a boy from the suburbs of Rome, Pino Pelosi, and takes him to a restaurant in the seaside village of Ostia. Pasolini wants to be with him in a loving relationship, but the boy gets mad at him, attacking him and some other companions. Pasolini is later beaten up before dying by being run over with his own car by a man. In the days following, the press says Pasolini’s murder was politically motivated by the police and those whom the poet had always loved and immortalized in his works.