Thursday, May 21, 2015


by Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1969

The first film by Pasolini that I saw was Medea, in the fall of 1975, (not long before his assassination) nearly forty years ago, at Eastern Connecticut State College in Willimantic, as part of their Monday afternoon film series.  It was a particularly good series of films.  I saw both Lacelot du Lac and (a few years later) Eraserhead, for the first time there.  I had heard of Pier Paolo prior to this, and was not about to miss the chance to see one of his infrequently shown films, but was not at all prepared for the seemingly (and actually) amateur quality of so much of it.  It changed so much of my understanding of film making and performance (and when I took a class in costume design two years later I thought often and particularly about the tactile and tonal qualities of Danilo Donati’s work for this film.)  It always surprises me when I see this masterpiece dismissed as one of Pasolini’s minor efforts. (Vernon Young, on the other hand, singled it out as the only one of Pasolini’s films that he admired.)  I suppose that it may strike some as uncharacteristic of Pier Paolo.  It certainly comes off as one of the least didactic  of his works, in any of the many forms at which he tried his hand.

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