Creator: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pier Paolo Pasolini (5 March 1922 – 2 November 1975). Say it aloud, that triple alliteration, that assonance, so awesome is that name, that in his film The Hawks and the Sparrows
which has credits set to song, the singer has a ball with that name.
Pasolini is that rare figure in cinema, a classical Renaissance Man
who had a great career outside cinema. He was an intellectual, a scholar, a poet, a novelist, a philosopher, a critic and a journalist and he kept those careers side-by-side with his forays into film-making which were among the best, most ambitious films of the 60s and 70s. He also had a unique life. Put it simply, he was a Marxist, atheist, homosexual and an outsider in a macho Catholic society. The Italian Communist Party (PCI) were too corrupt for him and he pointed that out to them
. So they chucked him out by outing him for being gay, which cost him his job, his home and led him to go to Rome where he lived and worked in the slums of the city. This provided him for the material for his poetry and his Breakthrough Hit
, the novel Ragazzi di Vita
which attracted Federico Fellini
's eye. The latter was working on a film, Nights of Cabiria
and needed a writer who knew Rome's underbelly well, and this proved to be Pasolini's entry into movies.
His first feature was Accattone
, which had the same resonance in Italy as Mean Streets
did in America, it was shocking and scandalizing to see this non-judgmental, unsentimental vision of the poor which avoided the Sliding Scaleof Shiny Versus Gritty
by tilting firmly on the right side of the equation and showing the poverty with no varnish and much clarity. His later films continued in the same vein, including The Gospel According to Saint Mathew
which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin
, a film that, word-for-word adapts the first of four canonical gospels of the Life of Jesus. This was a surprising film for many reasons, since Pasolini was a noted atheist and this film on Jesus was played straight and very respectful and indeed embraced by the Church in Italy and Baptists in America's South, who would perhaps not admire Pasolini's sexual orientation.
Pasolini's films after that became Darker and Edgier
since he felt that consumerism was having a negative influence on the youth of Italy. This sparked a Despair Event Horizon
that culminated in Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom
, one of the most controversial films ever made.
The notoriety was only increased by Pasolini's brutal murder just before the film's premier in circumstances that have never been fully resolved and remain highly contested today.