It was in the cinema that Pasolini found his unparalleled inspiration for taking reality and showing it as it is. The result was a revolution that turned Italian culture inside out. His movie-making career was a long litany of censorship and trials over the content and style of his visual narrative, always at odds with consumer society, built around the sharo, disturbing rapier thrusts of his art. His poetic vision of the lumpenproletariat was condensed in a series of unforgettable creations: Accattone, Mamma Roma, the various characters played by Totò and Ninetto and all the ragtag heroes from a different world, out of touch with contemporary society, against which the figure of Christ the fighter, the hero of his masterpiece telling the Gospel story, looms large. But his revolutionary approach to film-making wreaked havoc with traditional form as well as substance. He moved beyond Neo-Realism, looking to the masters of the silent era and the painterly tradition stretching from Masaccio to Pontormo, whose unmoving austerity is brought to life by the great musical tradition of Bach and Mozart. In the course of his career, Pasolini gradually developed a mistrust of direct dialogue with his audience's conscience, and his style and vocabulary began to move away from reality towards the world of fairy tale and satire.
After flirting with the world of the down-and-outs, after his early days and his documentaries on the incontaminated areas of the Third World, Pasolini turned to the grotesque to convey his fierce rejection of existence. Dismissing the bourgeoisie beyond all redemption in Theorem and Pigsty, and taking "time out" to sing the praises of sexual freedom in the Trilogy of Life, he plunged into the suffocating inferno of his last work, Salò, in which he tortures his audience's gaze and forces it to take cognizance of the devastating experience of human catastrophe.
Accattone (The Procurer)
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1961, 116 min.
Pasolini's first attempt at directing was a masterpiece which shook Italian movie-making to its very core, shining the spotlight on the down-and-outs, the lumpenproletariat, and revealing the side of the consumer society that no one wanted to see. His assistant director was a young Bernardo Bertolucci: "I was moved to watch the way Pier Paolo devised the scenes; when I watched the daily screenings I got the feeling I was experiencing the very first days of the cinema".
Mamma Roma - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1962, 105 min.
When Anna Magnani saw Accattone, she was so shocked by its intensity that she offered to play a role in Pasolini's second film, another descent into the social hell from which a prostitute known as Mamma Roma seeks to emerge by following the mirage of a "proper" life, right up the tragic "martyrdom" of her son.
Pier Paolo Pasolini's "La Rabbia" - Cinema
Hypothetical reconstruction of the original version of the film by Giuseppe Bertolucci. Italy, 1963-2008, 83 min.
This extraordinary experiment invented a new genre, an "essay" film. Pasolini views hundreds of cinema newsreels to forge a withering synthesis of events in the Cold War era, on which he overlays a poetic commentary designed to expose the rhetoric of triumphalism and to proclaim his angry rejection of standardisation.
The Gospel According to St. Matthew - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, France, 1964, 138 min.
Pasolini addresses man's sense of the sacred, and without questioning the dogma of religion, he probes the unfathomable mystery of death. Faithfully interpreting St. Matthew's Gospel, he discovers a revolutionary Christ whose divinity and strength are rooted in his lofty, inflexible humanity.
Desperately Alive - Cinema
directed by Paolo Brunatto. Italy, 2006, 11 min.
Interviewed on the thirtieth anniversary of Pier Paolo Pasolini's death, film director and script writer Sergio Citti talks about himself, his films and his relationship with his friend and mentor.
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1964, 90 min.
Pasolini goes through Italy with a fine-toothed comb as he explores the Italian people's approach to the taboo issues of sex and love. This fascinating anthropological survey probing the country's backward approach to the subject is beautifully complemented by the commentaries of Cesare Musatti and Alberto Moravia.
Pasolini, an Italian Crime - Cinema
directed by Marco Tullio Giordana. Italy, 1995, 101 min.
Giordana reconstructs the story of the legal investigation into Pasolini's murder in an intense account merging fictionalised recreation and archive material. Without seeking to reveal the "truth" about his death, the film sets out to prompt a debate on what is still one of the most painful and controversial events in our recent history.
The Hawks and the Sparrows - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1966, 88 min.
The tragicomic figure of the great Totò is the exceptional, clown-like lead player in this surreal fairy tale alongside the dreaming features of Ninetto, two actors in an unusual road movie probing the wreckage of humanity in its brutish paralysis after all ideological illusions have been dashed.
Followed by Totò at the Circus (8 min.), a scene deleted from the final version.
Oedipus Rex - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1967, 110 min.
Pasolini abandons the abyss of modern life to probe the roots of our culture and the archetype of Western identity, Oedipus, identifying the synthesis of man's condition as an unwitting bearer of guilt, with an autobiographical echo suggested by the contemporary setting.
Theorem - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1968, 98 min.
An unexpected young guest of undeniably enigmatic charm turns up at the villa of an industrialist and proceeds to seduce everyone in the house, one after another, throwing their lives into chaos and accelerating the collapse of their phony certainties, in a direct and implacable attack on the bourgeoisie condemned to succumb to its individualistic ethic.
Notes for a Film on India - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1968, 34 min.
Pasolini plans a film on democratic India and its legends: his Notes, comprising images filmed in the streets of Mumbai and its unbelievably poor suburbs, reveal the poet's shock when faced with the country's contradictions and, by contrast, his astonishment at the serenity of the common people.
An Hour With Ezra Pound
directed by Vanni Ronsisvalle. Italy, 1968, 70 min.
Pasolini interviews the great American poet, questioning him on a variety of issues connected with art, literature and painting. Adopting an extraordinarily modern approach, he uses the tool of television to intervene both poetically and politically, taking a fresh look at Pound's fascism through his poetry.
Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Reason for a Dream - Cinema
directed by Laura Betti. Italy, 2001, 94 min.
Laura Betti, one of Pasolini's closest friends, takes us on a memory trip through interviews, film sequences and testimonials from people who knew him, producing a splendid documentary providing us with a penetrating understanding of his culture and his world.
Pigsty - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1969, 100 min.
Pasolini's film-making branded the obscenity of contemporary society with furious rejection, beyond all redemption, through the implacable and grotesque metaphor of capitalistic power as a human pigsty where cannibalism, devouring everything in its path, is the last chance for survival of a society condemned to fall apart.
A Desperate Vitality - Cinema
directed by Laura Betti, directed for television by Mario Martone. Italy, 1999, 49 min.
Pier Paolo Pasolini's finest poems are read with empathetic pathos by his friend and muse, actress Laura Betti. His life, his work, his doubts and his certainties regarding society and politicians people this recital filmed by Mario Martone.
Notes for an African Oresteia
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1970, 73 min.
Pasolini would have liked to produce a film on the problems of Third World countries but he simply never got round to it. What we do have is this extraordinary documentary on the problems of post-colonial Africa, treading in the footsteps of the continent's archaic civilisation as it evinces the need to be brought into the modern world.
Medea - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, France, Germany. 1969, 118 min.
This visionary masterpiece avails itself of the spectacular participation of Maria Callas. The great soprano, won over by Pasolini, becomes his Medea, a terrible symbol of the archaic furore pitting the force of emotion against the rationality of the empty and opportunist society in which we live.
Suspicious Stories: Pier Paolo Pasolini, You Don't Kill Poets! - Cinema
directed by Gianni Borgna and Giancarlo Governi, 28 min.
This documentary uses facts and testimonials to reconstruct the poet's death and the incongruity of the official versions of the murder, which even today is one of the most obscure events in recent Italian history.
The Walls of Sana'a - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, 1971, 13 min.
While working on the Decameron, after completing the scenes shot in Yemen, Pasolini filmed this heartfelt appeal to save the historical city of Sana'a from the squalor of modern urbanisation.
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, France, Germany, 1971, 110 min.
In the Decameron - which was to form the Trilogy of Life together with his two subsequent films - Pasolini sets out to sing the praises of the sexual vitality of the common people before the onset of merchant society. Winning a Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival, the movie sparked a heated debate and an endless series of imitations in Italy.
Followed by The Set in Sana'a, a segment never yet screened (5 min.)
12 December - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Giovanni Bonfanti. Italy, 1972, 99 min.
Pasolini cooperated with the extraparliamentary left-wing group Lotta Continua, or Continuous Struggle, in this documentary on contemporary Italy, with its penetrating insight into the political climate and the tension sparked by the massacre of Piazza Fontana.
Pasolini, the Hidden Truth - Cinema
directed by Federico Bruno. Italy, 2013, 131 min.
A fictionalised recreation of the last year in Pasolini's life, this film is a work from the heart, created by the director with lucid determination after years of research and detective work spent gathering information and testimonials from people who knew him personally.
For Future Reference: Pier Paolo Pasolini - Cinema
directed by Ivo Barnabò Micheli. Italy, 1986, 115 min.
This documentary uses material from archives all over Europe and testimonials from friends and adversaries to paint a multi-faceted portrait of one of the most important Italian personalities of the last century, making a crucial contribution to our understanding of exactly who and what Pasolini really was.
Arabian Nights - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, France, 1974, 130 min.
The final, fascinating chapter in the Trilogy of Life on the physical nature of humanity is imbued with a dreamily sensual atmosphere, in which Pasolini sets his poetic vision of the East. His portrayal of sex, free from all inhibition and overlay, moves from the sphere of possession to the purity of sentiment.
Followed by Tagi and Dunya (15 min.), a scene deleted from the final version.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom - Cinema
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Italy, France,1975, 116 min.
Pasolini issued his final challenge to contemporary society and its phony tolerance in this shocking work exploring the hell on earth that was the violence, torture, rape and sexual perversion which the Fascist authorities visited on young partisans held in a house transformed into a prison camp to vent their aberrant contempt for the world.