Monday, 12 May 2014


Pier Paolo Pasolini did not write and direct his first film until he was 39 years old. Up until then he had been a novelist, poet, intellectual and journalist but along with Bernardo Bertolucci (Before the Revolution 1964) his assistant director; who also had never made a feature film before, made what is alleged to be a movie based on two of his novels, Boys of Life and Violent Life. Pasolini, like Fassbinder in Germany a generation later, lived at the cutting of scandal that is reflected through his films and none more so than his frank depiction of the steamy underbelly of Roman society in Accattone (1961).
Maddalena (Silvana Corsini) 

Accattone (Franco Citti)

This movie is a bleak portrait of a pimp, Accattone[1] of the title, a man who surrounds himself with the lower end of Rome’s peasant society including prostitutes and petty thieves. The real victims of this film are the women and how they are treated just because of the way they earn their living. Seemingly fair game for being abused, beaten and cheated by not just their clients but by the men they work for: men like Accattone. When his ‘prostituta’ Maddalena (Silvana Corsini) gets beaten by his rivals, and put in prison for reporting the men, Accattone finds another meal ticket in the form of a rather naïve young virgin, Stella (Franca Pasut) who he puts to work. But gradually he falls in love with her, which complicates their working relationship. Set in a sordid district of Rome, where Pasolini had lived during the early war period. Franco Citti plays the young pimp a man who lives a nasty brutish life but tries desperately to change.
Stella (Franca Pasut) 
A film of ‘hard faced men’ who are constantly provoking one another to violence, and because unemployment is rife there is always the question of where to next meal is coming from? What makes Pasolini different from some of his contemporary’s is that his filmmaking is influenced by literature and art and as Phil Kaufmann opined "I remember seeing Pasolini's Accattone in Florence, and thinking, my God, the faces! The subject matter! The camera being there! What an interesting way to tell stories” An intelligent piece of work full of expression and feeling, one which points out the trademarks to be found in other Pasolini movies including a cast of non-professional actors hailing from where the movie is set, and thematic emphasis on impoverished individuals. His work, most of which is widely available on DVD, is still an influence on some of the better filmmakers working today.

[1] The word "Accattone" is alleged to be a slang term mainly used for beggars, referring to people who never do well, who are lazy, and who rarely hold down a job which certainly fits with the films main character.

No comments:

Post a Comment