Having made it her mission as head of the Pasolini Foundation since 1980 to keep discussion of the late poet-filmmaker alive, actress Laura Betti, who starred in five films for the director, delivers a free-form personal reflection on the parallels aligning his work with his life and violent death. Airing his views on society and politics in relation both to his time and to today, “Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Reason of a Dream” depicts its subject as an artist and thinker of great foresight and one of the key Italian intellectuals of the last century. Cultural tube bookings should follow.
Mixing a wealth of archive footage, letters, videos and interviews from the foundation with new material that takes a more impressionistic approach, Betti’s film surfs freely between politics, writing, sexuality and religion, history and the future.
It shows Pasolini as a man who shared his wisdom generously, moving comfortably between high-culture literati and low-culture street boys. This latter connection is underlined as the camera cruises the desolate area of working-class Ostia where Pasolini was killed in 1975 and where a shabby sculpture now stands as a memorial, taking in the mountains of trash that become a recurring motif throughout the film.
While some lengthy consideration of literature and theater becomes numbingly highbrow and a more tightly edited hour might have been more engrossing overall, the docu’s loose, inquiring style generally is lively and stimulating. This is especially so in its ability to show Pasolini’s astute grasp of the consumerist, superficial direction in which Italian society was headed prior to his death and his savvy prediction of such current issues as globalization.
Among the more curious footage for Pasolini buffs is a soccer match between the crews of “Salo” and Bernardo Bertolucci’s “1900.”