×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Marking the 20th anniversary of Pier Paolo Pasolini's brutal murder, this study of the controversial Italian filmmaker, novelist, poet and polemicist is the ideal complement to any showing of his work. A solidly assembled, critical crash course in the principal themes of Pasolini's films and literature, backed by basic biographical info, this hourlong documentary should find a place in upscale TV skeds and educational slots.

Marking the 20th anniversary of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s brutal murder, this study of the controversial Italian filmmaker, novelist, poet and polemicist is the ideal complement to any showing of his work. A solidly assembled, critical crash course in the principal themes of Pasolini’s films and literature, backed by basic biographical info, this hourlong documentary should find a place in upscale TV skeds and educational slots.

Starting with Pasolini’s literary output and gradually shifting its focus to his films as his interest in that field took over, the docu looks at his fascination with death and religion, his deep-seated distrust of the political state, his distance from patriarchal figures and binding ties to maternal ones, and his disinterest in intellectuals and the middle classes, preferring instead to portray stories of the proletariat.

Via archive footage, old photographs and interviews, Pasolini’s early life and education are broadly reconstructed, showing him moving with his beloved mother from his native Friuli to a run-down Rome suburb in the shadows of a prison, and living in a desperate unemployed state for two years before finding work as a teacher.

He was first exposed to film as a script collaborator with Mario Soldati, Mauro Bolognini and Federico Fellini (on “Nights of Cabiria”). Tracing the stylistic and ideological influences of Dreyer and Chaplin, and using a generous selection of film excerpts, the docu examines the arc stretching from the solar intensity of Pasolini’s 1961 debut, “Accattone,” to the dark disillusionment of his final film, “Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom.”

The often contradictory elements of his work, the differences separating his writings from his films, and the influence of certain painters on his visual style are brought into focus. Pertinent sequences from his films are considered in light of his relationship to his mother, to sex and his own homosexuality, and to the Italian political establishment.

The film’s brevity prevents director Ivo Barnabo Micheli, who made an earlier documentary on Pasolini in 1970, and critic Gianni Rondolino, who co-scripted, from going far beyond the surface, and due to rights questions, several key films are represented only by still photos. But the film is nonetheless an extensive, stimulating look at one of the 20th century’s most iconoclastic artists.

Popular on Variety

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Italian

Production: An Istituto Luce production for Istituto Luce Antologia del Cinema. Directed by Ivo Barnabo Micheli. Screenplay, Barnabo Micheli, Gianni Rondolino.

Crew: Camera (Cinecitta color), Luigi Verga; editor, Giuliano Mattioli; music supervisor, Gabriella Brunamonti; sound, Angelo Raguso. Reviewed at Turin Young Cinema Festival (noncompeting), Nov. 11, 1995. Running time: 60 MIN.

More Film

  • Mindy Kaling Actors on Actors

    Why Mindy Kaling Turned to Social Media to Find the Lead of Her Netflix Series

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) explained how the internet helped expand the casting pool for their projects during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Wu began the interview: “When I did ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and they were looking for actors, it was crazy how many people said, ‘Well, there are [...]

  • Christian Bale and Matt Damon in

    Box Office: 'Ford v Ferrari' Races to First Place, 'Charlie's Angels' Collapses

    “Ford v Ferrari” left its box office competitors in the dust as the historical sports drama from Disney and 20th Century Fox sped its way to $31 million in North America. Directed by James Mangold and starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, “Ford v Ferrari” debuted ahead of expectations, thanks to strong word-of-mouth from moviegoers. [...]

  • In ‘Motherless Brooklyn,’ Edward Norton Takes

    In 'Motherless Brooklyn,' Edward Norton Takes on Timeless Power Struggles

    In Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” the ‘50s-set New York noir detective story he produced, directed, wrote and stars in, politics are never far from the surface. But they’re not the obvious parallels to any racist autocrats from New York of modern times, but instead focus on more timeless politics – the way disabled people and [...]

  • Gods of Mexico

    'Twentieth Century,' 'Dove and the Wolf,' 'Hurricane Season' Win Los Cabos Festival

    LOS CABOS  —  “The Twentieth Century,” Matthew Rankin’s crazed retelling of Canadian history, won the main Los Cabos Competition this Saturday, beating out a prestige lineup of some of the most notable festival standouts of the year. The win at Los Cabos, whose competition is focused on movies from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, adds [...]

  • 'Joker' Cinematographer Lawrence Sher Wins at

    'Joker' Cinematographer Lawrence Sher Wins at EnergaCamerimage Film Festival

    “Joker” cinematographer Lawrence Sher’s bid, along with director Todd Phillips, to try something “perhaps even a bit artful” won big Saturday in Torun, Poland as he took the top prize at the EnergaCamerimage Intl. Film Festival. The Golden Frog for cinematography, along with the audience prize, went to his work filming Joaquin Phoenix in the [...]

  • Roberto Schaefer

    Netflix Image Enhancement Rules Take Cinematographers by Surprise

    A Netflix requirement that cinematographers capture films in HDR, or high dynamic range, has taken many by surprise, filmmakers say, but those at the 27th EnergaCamerimage festival in Poland seem increasingly accepting of the change. DP Roberto Schaefer, whose “Red Sea Diving Resort” screened at the cinematography fest in the historic city of Torun, said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content