Thursday, 15 May 2014

Comizi d’amore.

How are children born? Pier Paolo Pasolini asks a group of young boys in the feature length documentary Comizi d’amore (1964) or to give it it's English title Love Meeting. The answer he gets involves a stork, a “Madwife” God and/or Jesus. People, in general, do not discuss sex on screen or off and certainly not in 1963 when Pasolini took his camera and microphone to North and Southern Italy, to the countryside and the cities to interview a cross section of Italian society on questions of sex, virginity, prostitution, homosexuality, divorce and basic sex education.
Pasolini interviewed men old....

.... and young....

This documentary was made during the period that Pasolini and his producer Alfredo Bini were sourcing actors and scouting locations for The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964). With time on his hands he decided to find out the Italian view on sex and how it had changed since they were now living in the so called enlightened 1960’s and whether sexual ignorance, confusion and conservatism drive peoples morality.
The questions included: is sex important in people’s lives, would a man be happier as a lady-killer or a loyal family man, are women inferior to men, do 14 year old girls have the same sexual freedom as 14 year old boys, does the Catholic religion repress sexual inclinations, why don’t more women take up prostitution rather than earn low wages in a factory, should men marry a non-virgin. Two of the most interesting answers came from questions on divorce and homosexuality. Most agreed that divorce should not be allowed while some people went as far as admitting that it would be preferable to kill your partner rather than face the indignity of a divorce. Everyone interviewed agreed that it was totally unacceptable to be sexually different ‘inverts’ of both sexes were offensive to any decent human being and should not be allowed and spoke of it as a disease that should be eradicated! They obviously had no idea of Pasolini’s sexual leaning!
....and women.
This is a totally fascinating, and humorous, example of the cinema veritie style of documentary film attempting, as it does to reveal the ignorance and fear involved around sex - not helped by a catholic upbringing. The expected generation gap did not always make a lot of difference to the views expressed but we are never sure if these views are what they were expected to say in front of there contemporary’s and one would imagine there were a lot of sexual hypocrites in Italy in the 1960’s, as probable there was in most other countries! As one commentator put it the impression one gets from this extraordinary film-investigation is that of a large, widespread ignorance of even the most educated strata of the population, a deep backwardness and fear related to the topic of sexuality. That’s it in a nutshell!

Pier Paolo Pasolini.

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