Pier Paolo Pasolini
Co-presented with the National Gallery of Art
November 3-26

The National Gallery of Art and the American Film Institute present a retrospective of the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of his birth. Many are shown in newly struck or restored prints. Restoration work was performed by Cineteca di Bologna in conjunction with the filmmaker's artistic collaborators.

Poet, painter, intellectual and prophetic philosopher who predicted, for example, the evils of state-supported consumerism, Pasolini's ability to evoke deeper truths set his films apart during his short life. "It is only at our moment of death that our life, to that point undecipherable, ambiguous, suspended, acquires a meaning."

The exhibition is organized by Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero of Cinecittà Luce, with Roberto Chiesi, of Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini / Cineteca di Bologna. Pier Paolo Pasolini is produced in association with Cinecittà Luce, Rome, and Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini / Cineteca di Bologna. Presented in association with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute, Washington.

All films screened from 35mm prints with new English subtitles realized by Cinecittà Luce, unless otherwise noted. For info on films screening at the NGA, visit NGA.gov.

This event is part of 2013 Year of Italian Culture in US.

AFI Member passes accepted at all films in the Pasolini series.


PIGSTY [Porcile]

In both THEOREM and PIGSTY, Pasolini seeks to synthesize the mythic strain that surfaced in OEDIPUS REX with the stridently political filmmaking emerging in Europe in the second half of the 1960s, epitomized by the work of Jean-Luc Godard. In a nod to the French director, Pasolini reunites the lead couple from LA CHINOISE, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Anne Wiazemsky, who appear in one of PIGSTY's two parallel plots, this one set in the present, with Léaud as the son of a wealthy businessman whose lack of interest in his fiancée betrays an unorthodox sexual predilection. The other story takes place in an unspecified prehistoric past, where a brutish barbarian scrounges for food in an archaic landscape ravaged by primitive warfare. PIGSTY acts as a crucial missing link between the critique of THEOREM and the darker depictions of savagery to come. (Note courtesy of Harvard Film Archive.)

DIR/SCR Pier Paolo Pasolini; PROD Gian Vittorio Baldi. Italy/France, 1969, color, 99 min, 35mm. In Italian with English subtitles. NOT RATED

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Mon, Nov 4, 7:30; Wed, Nov 6, 7:00

THE CANTERBURY TALES [I racconti di Canterbury]

For his follow-up to THE DECAMERON, Pasolini selected Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales," the other great 14th century collection of stories. If the world of Pasolini's DECAMERON is that of the dawning of the Renaissance, the world here is decidedly medieval, with a concomitant emphasis on the vulgar and the grotesque. Although the "Trilogy of Life" was conceived as a celebration of the body, this middle piece marks a palpably darkening mood. Returning to the episodic structure so central to Pasolini's cinema, the film recounts a series of amorous misadventures with a sharp emphasis placed more on sex than on love, lust or desire. Climaxing with a wildly scatological vision of Hell, THE CANTERBURY TALES is propelled by notably cruel humor, a violence more pointed than THE DECAMERON and an even more raw sexuality. (Note courtesy of Harvard Film Archive.)

DIR/SCR Pier Paolo Pasolini; PROD Alberto Grimaldi. Italy/France, 1972, color, 140 min, 35mm. In English and Italian with English subtitles. RATED NC-17

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Sun, Nov 10, 7:00; Mon, Nov 11, 7:00

THE HAWKS AND THE SPARROWS [Uccellacci e uccellini]

Pasolini regarded il Boom—the massive economic and industrial development of postwar Italy and the wave of rapid social change that followed—as a tragic catastrophe, a sweeping-away of Italy's last vestiges of pre-modern culture by replacing them with the depredations of consumer capitalism. Alternately caustic and gently comic, this melancholy film offers a parable of those changes, tracing the odyssey of a father and son through a landscape of degradation and exploitation as they follow a talking crow that delivers a Marxist critique of the situation. An homage to silent comedy, THE HAWKS AND THE SPARROWS proved to be Pasolini's parting shot at contemporary Italy before he turned to his cycle of mythic films. (Note courtesy of Harvard Film Archive.)

DIR/SCR Pier Paolo Pasolini; PROD Alfredo Bini. Italy, 1966, b&w, 91 min, 35mm. In Italian with English subtitles. NOT RATED

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Sat, Nov 16, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Nov 17, 11:00 a.m.

ARABIAN NIGHTS [Il fiore delle mille e una notte]

In his version of the Middle and Near Eastern tales called "The Arabian Nights," Pasolini revels in the sheer joy of storytelling, elaborately intertwining a series of meandering episodes that lend the film a rich narrative complexity. Eliminating the storyteller Scheherazade, Pasolini instead embeds the nested stories within a framing narrative about a poor young man searching for the escaped slave girl who is his lost love. Like THE DECAMERON and THE CANTERBURY TALES, the film abounds in nudity and scenes of sexuality, although cast now in a far sunnier mood than those two films, perhaps an expression of Pasolini's declaration to have "liberated" himself by shooting for the first time in distant non-European disparate locales, from Ethiopia to Nepal, and using a cast combining Pasolini regulars with nonprofessional actors found on location. (Note courtesy of Harvard Film Archive.)

DIR/SCR Pier Paolo Pasolini; SCR Dacia Mariani; PROD Alberto Grimaldi. Italy/France, 1974, color, 130 min, 35mm. In Italian with English subtitles. RATED NC-17

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Sun, Nov 17, 7:00; Mon, Nov 18, 7:00

SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM [Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma]

Disillusioned by the sexual revolution, which he felt had only entrenched sexuality in consumerism and bourgeois rationalism, Pasolini disowned his "Trilogy of Life," the three early 1970s films intended as erotic celebrations of the body, and responded with his most notorious and final film, SALÒ. Set in northern Italy during the last days of Mussolini's reign, the film liberally adapts de Sade's "120 Days of Sodom," using the tale of amoral libertines who kidnap young victims for a sacrificial orgy to launch a ruthless and wide-ranging attack on modernity as a whole. Setting up equivalences between Sadean sexual license, Italian fascism and consumerist alienation, SALÒ delivers a trenchant political allegory that tends to be overshadowed by its explicit nudity and images of sexual sadism. The film's ultimately extreme violence and deviant sexuality have earned it the reputation as arguably the first "artsploitation" movie, a precursor to the likes of FUNNY GAMES (1997, 2007) and IRREVERSIBLE (2002). (Note courtesy of Harvard Film Archive.)

DIR/SCR Pier Paolo Pasolini; SCR Sergio Citti; PROD Alberto De Stefanis, Antonio Girasante, Alberto Grimaldi. Italy/France, 1975, color, 116 min, 35mm. In Italian, French and German with English subtitles. NOT RATED

NOTE: This film contains many scenes with strong sexual and/or violent content. Suggested for mature audiences only.

"Derives its powerful impact largely from its literalness: staging the tortures of de Sade's 'The 120 Days of Sodom' point by point, detail by detail, even though Pasolini enforces a kind of shotgun marriage between this novel and a relatively recent historical phenomenon by situating all his simulated atrocities in the last stronghold of Italian Fascism... Like it or not, SALÒ is a realized work that accomplishes a good deal of what it sets out to do—to appall us with the spectacle of our own worst capacities, and to confront us with the even more disturbing and conflicted responses that this may elicit in us." –Jonathan Rosenbaum, The Soho Village News.


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Mon, Nov 25, 7:00; Tue, Nov 26, 7:00