The Decameron 1970.
Pier Paolo Pasolini was an Italian film director that did not shy away from his deeply felt beliefs when making movies. A self confessed atheist and Marxist who led a gay lifestyle and was expelled from his beloved Communist Party because of a scandal involving alleged sexual activities with adolescent boys. Pasolini was murdered in 1975 under suspicious circumstances that may have been related to his homosexuality.
The Decameron (1970) is the first film in what became known as his trilogy of life (the other two being The Canterbury Tales 1972 and Arabian Nights 1974) and is a lavish historical pageant. A portmanteau film based on ten stories from the 14th century by Giovaai Boccaccio described on the BFI DVD release as “tales full of bawdy humor, earthly spirit, a romp through tales of sex and death of lusty nuns and priests, cuckolded husbands murdered lovers and grave robbers” Best described as playful and full of life, the cast was handpicked and almost wholly non-professional.
It’s indeed a departure from the two films that originally brought Pasolini to my attention, the 1968 Theorem (I have included a earlier ramble below) and his final and most controversial film Salo (1975) a film based on the Marquis de Sade novel 120 Days of Sodom with its setting transposed to Mussolini’s miniature Fascist Republic of Salo, Italy in 1944. Both films confirming that some movies warrant being described as art.
On the face of it Theorem, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1968 film is a simple story. A mysterious stranger, the guest, played by Terence Stamp, arrives at a bourgeois household in Milan where he successively seduces the son, the mother (The exquisite Italian actress Silvana Mangano) the daughter, the father and the maid! As a result of this so called divine intervention, the father hands his factory to its workers, the mother gives herself to random sexual encounters, the son expresses himself by a form of modern art and the daughter gets taken away by men in white coats, while the maid becomes a miracle performing saint. It’s a film about loneliness, sexual repression and self-discovery and is punctuated by shots of a windswept volcanic wilderness which I understand represents ‘The bleak wilderness of the soul’ the dialogue is particularly sparse but this interesting and compelling movie is a visual treat.