Pasolini, Pier Paolo

(1922-1975)
   Poet, playwright, novelist, painter, essayist, film director. Although he would become one of the foremost directors to emerge in the second wave of postwar Italian cinema in the early 1960s, Pasolini came to cinema relatively late in life, after having already established a strong reputation as an innovative poet, novelist, and radical cultural critic, in search of an alternative medium for self-expression.
   Having been expelled from both his teaching post and the Communist Party for alleged homosexual activities, in 1950 Pasolini moved from the northern Italian town of Casarsa, where he had lived with his mother since the end of World War II, to one of the poorer outlying districts of Rome. Despite continuing financial hardship, he quickly became part of the city's bustling literary scene and published several acclaimed collections of poetry before also beginning to work in the cinema, his first involvement being a collaboration on the screenplay of Mario Soldati's La donna del fiume (The River Girl, 1954). In the wake of the publication of his controversial novel Ragazzi di vita (1955), which presented a vivid portrait of the precarious existence lived by so many in the borgate (shantytowns) that he had come to know so well, Pasolini was approached more frequently to work on the screenplays of films that were set in the seamier side of Rome. He thus contributed to writing the dialogue of Federico Fellini's Le notti di Cabiria (The Nights of Cabiria, 1956) before also working with Mauro Bolognini on the screenplays of half a dozen films, including La notte brava (On Any Street, 1959), Il bell'Antonio (Bell'Antonio, 1960), and La giornata balorda (A Crazy Day, 1960).
   After playing a small role in Carlo Lizzani's Il gobo di Roma (The Hunchback of Rome, 1960), an experience that allowed him to become familiar with the more technical aspects of filmmaking, he finally wrote and directed his first film, Accattone (Accattone! 1961), the story of a truculent layabout in one of the Roman borgate whose wayward existence and baneful ordeals nevertheless mark him out as a sort of negative Christ figure. The film's nonmoralistic portrayal of prostitutes and petty thieves, coupled with its use of Christological imagery in a profane context, immediately drew censure from the authorities who originally sought to ban the film outright but eventually allowed its release under an R rating. Pasolini's second film, Mamma Roma (1962), also set in the Roman borgate and featuring Anna Magnani in one of the most forceful roles of her career, was also denounced for obscenity at its first screening but later absolved of the charge. An even harsher reaction attended La ricotta (The Curd Cheese), a short self-contained episode that Pasolini contributed to the compilation film Ro.Go.Pa.G. (Let's Have a Brainwash, 1963), with the film's being impounded by the authorities for its alleged offense to the Catholic religion and Pasolini himself receiving a four-month suspended jail sentence.
   Almost as a rejoinder, Pasolini then made a powerful but iconoclastic adaptation of what he regarded as the most socially committed of the Gospels, Il vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1964). The film, screened to great acclaim at the Venice Festival that year, received both the Special Jury Prize and the Office Catholique International du Cinema (OCIC) Award, and also went on to win three Nastri d'argento and three nominations for Academy Awards. Following Comizi d'amore (Love Meetings, 1964), an illuminating documentary-inquest into the sexual attitudes of contemporary Italians, filmed largely while Pasolini was scouting locations for II vangelo, he directed Uccellacci e uccellini (Hawks and Sparrows, 1966), a surreal road movie that utilized the great acting talents of Toto to construct what was effectively a filmic essay on the death of political ideologies in the guise of a picaresque adventure. A bizarre filmic concoction but typical of Pasolini's way of using the cinema to present his provocative ideas, Uccellacci was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes and won two Nastri d'argento at home. Toto would also feature in two subsequent short films, La terra vista dalla luna (The Earth Seen from the Moon), which was Pasolini's contribution to the compilation film Le streghe (The Witches, 1967), and Che cosa sono le nuvole? (What Are the Clouds?), a charming existential fable that became one of the episodes of Capriccio all'italiana (Caprice Italian Style, 1968).
   After playing the part of a revolutionary Mexican priest in Lizzani's political Western, Requiescant (Kill and Pray, 1967), Pasolini made the first of his screen adaptations of ancient tragedies, Edipo Re (Oedipus Rex, 1967). Stunning in its creation of an archaic mythopoetic setting that avoided all the usual iconography of ancient Greek culture (the film was, in fact, shot mostly in Morocco), Edipo was also remarkable for the way in which it succeeded in faithfully adapting Sophocles' text while also subjectively expressing Pasolini's oedipal conflict with his own father.
   Pasolini's next film, Teorema (Theorem, 1968), adapted from a book he had already published the same year, profoundly divided the critics at Venice and again put Pasolini at the center of controversy. A highly ambivalent allegory that could be read both as a profanity and as a spiritual epiphany, the film was given the OCIC Award but at the same time also strongly attacked by other religious authorities. Following what had by now become a pattern, the film was impounded by the authorities on the usual charges of obscenity but eventually acquitted of the charges and released. Following Appunti per un film sull'India (Notes for a Film on India, 1968), a short documentary eventually shown on television, Pasolini made Porcile (Pigpen, 1969), another highly idiosyncratic and ambiguous allegory that appeared purposely structured to resist univocal interpretation. This was followed by the second of Pasolini's adaptations of ancient Greek tragedy, Medea (1969), which was memorable for, among other elements, a brilliant performance in the lead role by opera diva Maria Callas. After so many difficult works, Pasolini lightened up with his next three films, Il Decameron (The Decameron, 1971), I racconti di Canterbury (The Canterbury Tales, 1972), and Il fiore delle mille e una notte (A Thousand and One Nights, 1974). United under the rubric of what he called his Trilogy of Life, all three were creative but relatively transparent adaptations of major literary works and all celebrated the body and human sexuality. Pasolini's own appearance as a fresco painter in one of the frame stories of Il Decameron and as Geoffrey Chaucer himself in The Canterbury Tales also added a self-reflexive and personal dimension to the films. This lightness of tone, however, was short lived. In 1975, largely in response to what he had come to see as an ever more degraded Italian reality around him, Pasolini made his bleakest and most nihilistic cinematic statement, Salb o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom, 1975). In the event, the film was first screened at the Paris Festival on 23 November 1975, three weeks after Pasolini himself was brutally murdered. An unflinching representation of naked power at its worst, the film was so confrontational that it was completely banned in Italy and in most other countries until quite recently, its dark shadow at times succeeding in obscuring the extraordinary overall achievement of Pasolini's remarkable body of work.

Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pasolini,Pier Paolo — Pa·so·li·ni (pä sō leʹne), Pier Paolo. 1922 1975. Italian writer and director whose films, including The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) and The Decameron (1971), reflect on religion, class, and sexuality. * * * …   Universalium

  • Pasolini, Pier Paolo — (1922 1975)    Poet, playwright, novelist, painter, essayist, film director. Although he would become one of the foremost directors to emerge in the second wave of postwar Italian cinema in the early 1960s, Pasolini came to cinema relatively late …   Guide to cinema

  • Pasolini, Pier Paolo — (1922–1975)    Director, novelist, poet, and critic, Pierpaolo Pasolini was born and educated in Bologna and studied first art history and then (after an interlude in which he was drafted into the Italian army) modern literature. After graduating …   Historical Dictionary of modern Italy

  • Pasolini, Pier Paolo — born March 5, 1922, Bologna, Italy died Nov. 2, 1975, Ostia, near Rome Italian film director, poet, and novelist. He wrote novels about Rome s slum life as well as a significant body of poetry. Pasolini became a screenwriter in the mid 1950s,… …   Universalium

  • Pasolini, Pier Paolo — • ПАЗОЛИ НИ (Pasolini) Пьер Паоло (5.3.1922 2.11.1975)    итал. режиссёр, сценарист, теоретик кино. Окончил Болонский ун т. В 50 х гг. получил известность как прогрес. писатель, публицист и поэт. В 1954 62 участвовал в создании 15 сц. ф., в т. ч …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Pasolini, Pier Paolo — ► (1922 75) Escritor y director cinematográfico italiano. Luchó para la revalorización de la creación popular como expresión de la realidad. En su poesía destacan Diarios de P. P. Pasolini (1945) y ¿Dónde está mi patria? (1949), entre otras. Obra …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Pasolini, Pier Paolo —  (1922–1975) Italian writer, actor, and film director …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Pasolini, Pier Paolo — (Bologna 1922 Roma 1975) scrittore, saggista e poeta ; regista cinematografico; anima delle riviste “Officina” e “Nuovi Argomenti”. collab./opere: “Paragone”, “Il Mondo”, “Giovedì”, “Il Punto”, “Tempo” …   Dizionario biografico elementare del Novecento letterario italiano

  • Pier-Paolo Pasolini — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pasolini (homonymie). Pier Paolo Pasolini …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pier Paolo Pasolini — (* 5. März 1922 in Bologna; † 2. November 1975 in Ostia) war ein italienischer Filmregisseur, Dichter und Publizist. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 1.1 Kindheit und Jugend …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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