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Pasolini, Pier Paolo (1922-1975)  
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After that came Teorema (1968), one of Pasolini's most controversial works, in which a sexual "exterminating angel" (Terence Stamp) has his way with an entire Italian family.

Porcile (1969), which like Faulkner's Wild Palms, presents two contrasting stories, left audiences scratching their heads over what the adventures of a mute cannibal (Pierre Clementi) has to do with the melancholia of a bourgeois youth (Jean-Pierre Leaud).

More questions were raised when Pasolini cast Maria Callas in his rendition of Medea (1970), a film in which the legendary diva was not required to sing a note.

But a sudden turn of popular fortune came when Pasolini made The Decameron (1971), The Canterbury Tales (1972), and Arabian Nights (1974). They are as uncompromising as any of his films, but their comic spirit, frequent sexual interludes, and abundant nudity pleased moviegoers as no Pasolini work had done before.

And then came the posthumously released Salo. Most of the critics responded as though the horrors displayed in the film came directly from the gay Italian's feverish imagination. But all Pasolini did was extract selected passages of Sade and reset them in the last days of the fascist republic of Salo, the state-within-a-state established in the twilight of Mussolini's Italy.

His most visually elegant and dramatically reserved work, Salo offers Sade's vision of old, wealthy, evil authorities (politicians, lawyers and bishops) having their way with nude and compliant youths and maidens of the lower classes as simply standard operational procedure for the powers that be.

Despite the outrage of some critics who complained of the director's decadence and depravity, the film actually presents a scrupulous version of the everyday reality of man's inhumanity to man.

It is noteworthy that Ninetto Davoli does not appear in Salo. The embodiment of comic exuberance in so many of Pasolini's films, Davoli has no place in Salo, where he would be obliged to play either a victim or an executioner. And Pasolini could see his beloved friend as neither, even after the young man married and began a family of his own.

David Ehrenstein

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Indiana, Gary. Salo. London: BFI Modern Classics, 2000.

Ireland, Doug. "Restoring Pasolini: Thirty Years Later, New Questions Arise about Who Murdered the Italian Cultural Giant." LA Weekly (August 5-11, 2005):

Pasolini, Pier Paolo. Heretical Empiricism. Louise K. Barnett, ed. Ben Lawton and Louise K. Barnett, trans. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

_____. Lutheran Letters. Stuart Hood, trans. London: Carcanet, 1987.

_____. Theorem. Stuart Hood, trans. London: Quartet Encounters, 1992.

Stack, Oswald. Pasolini. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969.

Willemen, Paul, ed. Pier Paolo Pasolini. London: British Film Institute, 1977.


    Citation Information
    Author: Ehrenstein, David  
    Entry Title: Pasolini, Pier Paolo  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated October 13, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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