The self-examination of a poet from childhood, his position is defined by Valéry as among the criminal outskirts, a “parasite”. The pimp of innocency falls by the wayside, denounced by his prostituted muse.

Pasolini’s screenplay is formally precise to an almost nervous degree, it endows the perfect filming with a paradoxical calm.


Mamma Roma

The streetwalker and her son, hix from the stix, can no more attain a respectable life in Nuova Roma than a dog can resist last night’s dinner.

The project fails, leaving Maslin of the New York Times to rave both ways.

Several other reviewers also reflect the general waste of energy. Nondescript apartment buildings ring the empty fields and scattered ruins later on in Fellini’s Intervista (Mamma Roma works Cabiria’s beat or very nearly).


Laviamoci il cervello

One of the greatest examples of moviemaking on the subject of moviemaking, nothing else suggests the celebrated tedium so matter-of-factly, the terrible strata of art, the constriction of the enterprise, and the fantastic immateriality of the day’s shooting.

A bit player (as the good thief) finally gets a bite to eat but dies on his cross just when the director (Orson Welles) cries “Action!”

After Rossellini and Godard, “La ricotta”, then Gregoretti.



Il Vangelo secondo Matteo

The style has been described as cinéma-vérité, and may have come under the immediate inspiration of Brook’s Lord of the Flies, as well as Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. The sense of its application here is to abstract all representations and give the thing its own weight, visibly. This has indefinable bonuses, as when a ponderous Judas scurries down the hill, watched by the camera more or less objectively.

Again, when a thief is nailed to the cross, the camera stirs shakily from a long shot to slowly approach. And then, there is the great effect of placing the camera among the crowd as Jesus is condemned and mocked, a distinct memory of the treatment of collaborators.

The great force of the style is its essential equanimity in the face of diminished resources, which gives Jesus’ reproof of the scribes a terrible weight of logic, although of course it falls upon deaf ears like everything else presented on this wise, plainly. But you can’t blame all these local folks, so the idea of a supervenient grace is wrought upon the whole film, out of the Gospel according to Matthew and a little Mediterranean town.


Uccellacci e uccellini

The rent collector and his son hear the title story from a crow, St. Francis has a mission to the hawks and sparrows.

The tenant is penniless, the rent collector is pitiless. So is the landlord to whom he in turn is in debt.

The crow is explained in a superimposed title as a “left-wing intellectual”. The rent collector and his son eat him.

There is a supplementary satire of the Spettacoli Volanti demonstrating Ancient Roman cruelty, but the actress has a baby girl in the middle of it.

Geoff Andrew excoriated the film in Time Out, Bosley Crowther (New York Times) found it a captivating puzzlement, twice over.

The parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:23-34) is indicated.

Hawks kill and eat, sparrows want to be fed.

Togliatti’s funeral.

A certain unchanging wisdom is underlined as it were in the character of Luna, paradoxically.


La terra vista dalla luna
Le Streghe

Le Streghe is three epic short films punctuated by two jokes, this is the centerpiece between Visconti and De Sica (Bolognini and Rossi doing the comedy).

Pasolini’s Chaplin is Totò, death in the Colosseum cannot alter the ideal wife (Mangano).


Edipo re

Sophocles is given a mise en scène for the cinema (Pasolini has occasional silent-film intertitles for the very brief unspoken thought or aside), the action of the play is distributed unexpectedly among two continents.

A young military officer under Mussolini is jealous of his own infant son, the father’s gesture of revulsion initiates the play in Morocco.

Only after the bloody revelation does blind Œdipus return to present-day Italy and his birthplace.

The point of this dislocation is perhaps to emphasize the odd disaster of his reign in Thebes, replacing Laius.

An acute analysis of the play afforded by Sophocles, with a Hitchcockian feel for the poetic line of hills in a panning shot, and a Felliniesque gusto for the tribal realms of antiquity.


Che cosa sono le nuvole?
Capriccio all’iltaliana

A practical application of Shaw and the English critics on Shakespeare, “trash and music”.



The question is, can the bourgeoisie do anything right?

The visitor is a civil engineering student who reads Rimbaud, he’s a schoolchum of the scion. Every member of the household from the maid to the ailing father falls passionately in love with him for no reason at all, he gratifies them. The same telegraph boy, flapping his arms and skittering merrily to a transistor radio, who presented the telegram announcing his arrival brings news of his departure.

The maid returns to her village and pines away in the public view, something of a saint. The daughter dies of lovesickness, clutching something invisible in her right fist. The scion becomes a painter on Plexiglas. The wife takes up with young men on the road. The husband, health recovered, divests himself of factory and clothes to wander through deserts of volcanic ash.

Critics who think of the student as a seducer also ask, is he God? No, just what a little thing can break up a happy home.



The pigstying scion of a West German industrialist eats the young and their ridiculous faith, a merger quells him.

The wittiest of all film scripts, and the most ably filmed, went by the boards in several English analyses, as it would appear.

Grosz and Brecht are made to fall on the floor laughing, deliberately, and roll away down the aisle, forever.



The diamonded point is carefully elucidated in much the same technique as Edipo re, a satisfactory answer in terms even more purely cinematic (no intertitles, sparse dialogue) to the problem of filming Euripides. A constantly shifting layer of text still reveals the one constant of the joke, set out by Mort Sahl in another reference, “be careful, the regime you change may be your own.”

A provision for understanding the dynamics of the world so-called may not equip the seer for something as unequivocal as home seen from abroad, where the same revelation has occurred.

Medea abandons the Golden Fleece as useless, thereby granting Jason his freedom, in the exercise of which he undoes the state.

Much play of “antique” and “modern”, in every sense and in the aggravated style of Pasolini’s “mythic” period, dominates the filming.


Il Decameron

The load of bollocks this is not can be found in Canby’s essay-review. It’s Boccaccio filmed by Pasolini, a classic work set in time and place to suit.

Those ancient stories (“Homer and the Bible are my favorite reading,” says Losey’s Galileo), The Canterbury Tales, The Arabian Nights, are just put on the screen with all the skill he can muster, for precisely the value of them.

A young fool robbed by a false relation lands in the shit, he’s rescued to filch the late archbishop’s ruby ring, climbs in the sarcophagus and is left there. Other thieves are frightened away, he prances off with the ring.

The opening tale, a good example.


I racconti di Canterbury

Poe has a theory of literature, since we’re speaking of literature, that it’s a pleasure, “for the pleasure of telling them,” The Canterbury Tales, since it’s a film, tremendous efforts on location with costumes and soundtrack effect the result, which is to touch upon the age and Chaucer’s influences, repeat his jokes, present the work in this guise, as a literary endeavor (Chaucer is played by Pasolini, the wife is at him, won’t let him doze).

Chaplin is cited, a great English artist.

‘Tis all one, they say in England, Pasolini shows the function of literature as pointing it out, except for the theory, a statement of purpose.


I fiore delle mille e una notte

A long story with many divagations tending toward the king and queen in the palace.

The soul and the world and the profit thereby, the lover’s delay, the madwoman, the imp of the place, the writer made a monkey of, the boy who is the demon’s other self, Princess Dunya who wudna, and at last the terrible king.

An apotheosis of Pasolini’s art, especially and most particularly in his antiquities as a living spectacle right down to the ground.


Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma

A satirical cartoon directed at the Mussolini Government, à la Sade, and at that purely formal level amply misunderstood by some strangely naïve reviewers (notably one from the BBC, who perhaps understood it as an attack on public schools).

In sum, as one of the characters says, a work of art that adds a prelude of organization (Antinferno) and a three-ring circus (Manias, Shit, Blood) to display the circles of noxious whimsy contrived by President and Bank and Church and Law that turn to coprophagy and wounds before the final orgy of death, “these foolish things remind me of you”.

The Roman empire revived, per the senatorial view, has three walk down the aisle in travesty to be married by the fourth in witch’s robes, Ezra Pound adds a few elegantly apposite lines (the film is supplied with a bibliography after the opening credits), the unique inspiration of Roma, città aperta and its German elite salon has the deciding factor in its purview. Pasolini understands the delusion in his final shot of two Fascist gunmen dancing amid the horrors, they are bored, girls are not permitted to them while on duty in Salò. This conventional military image (Stalag 17) of life in abeyance breaks the spell.