An artist, director, screenwriter, poet, actor, painter, footballer, gay, critic of the bourgeoisie, activist of the left, of the hirelings, the lads, the neighborhoods, and the suburbs. Pasolini created one of the most infamous motion pictures ever. The Vatican will no longer praise Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom, the last film Pasolini shot before his murder, which was censored and banned for screening due to its extremely violent nature and the brutal sexual scenes shown in it. However, the DNA of this film - in its depiction of what it means to be human - is even more Christian than his 1964 film The Gospel According to Matthew; the 120 Days of Sodom depicts a world where humans are made in the image of God, and there is no hope, no redemption.
.."What lies beyond love is madness. Eros regulates itself.."
Pasolini was born in 1922 when the fascist dictator Mussolini came to power-- A son of a military artillery lieutenant, Carlo Alberto, and Susanna Colussi, a girl from a small farming town in northern Italy. Pier Paolo was named after his uncle, an aspiring poet who drowned at sea at the age of twenty. His younger brother, Guido, also died at the age of twenty when communist partisans killed him at the end of World War II. Pasolini's father lived military ideals, "the officer of the family." Rejected and disgusted by his father's militant authoritarianism, Pasolini became very close to his mother.
Neither parent was particularly religious. His father attended church out of a sense of social duty. At the same time, his mother rejected the Catholic Church as devoid of spirituality. Still, Pier Paolo was fascinated by the image of Christ. In his diary from 1946, he describes a fantasy: "I saw myself hanging on the cross, nailed. My thighs were wrapped lightly by that thin and soft strap, and the busy crowd was watching me. The sanctification of my name ended in a sensual image, and it slowly dawned on me that I was nailed to the cross Completely naked."
As a teenager, Pasolini repressed the sexual and violent urges of this fantasy. Still, his identification with the suffering of Christ permeates his early poetry.
Toying with the soaring and the subordinate
In 1949, Pasolini disappeared from a dance party with four young boys, all sixteen or older. Soon after, their families accused him of "corrupting minors" (charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence). The public scandal led to his expulsion from the Communist Party and forced him to flee with his mother to Rome, a move that set the course of his life and art after that. He began researching the street slang spoken by working-class Roman youth. Their dialect -Romanesco, became his new slang.
Pasolini toyed in all his works with the tension between the "high," the formulaic, the literary and the vernacular, the street, and the "low." He hung out with the street boys in the port cities on the city's outskirts, where he lived with his mother. In exchange for their friendship and patience, he bought them slices of pizza. The novel that first established his reputation follows a young street hustler who engages in prostitution, gambling, pickpocketing, unapologetically petty crime, and random acts of violence. A Violent Life (Una vita violenta), his second novel, is a fictional and immoral chronicle that somewhat predicts Pasolini's death years later. This is the story of Tommaso Puzzilli, a street brat who drifts from crime to prostitution, fascism, and communism before being redeemed by a final act of heroism.
Accttone is his first film, about a boy from the Roman slums struggling to break free from a life of crime. Although it was his first film, Pasolini was already recognized in Italy as a writer. In addition to publishing poetry and two novels, he helped write the scripts for two great director Federico Fellini's films: Nights in Cabiria and La Dolce Vita. Like Rome, which was the epitome of contrast to Pasolini, The beautiful in the cities, the ugliest, the dramatic but also the wretched in them, so are the lads and brats in his early films, scratched rough and cruel, but also symbols of purity, angels, Greek gods. The holy, the glittering, and the shining - the exclusive nightclubs - become dirty, filthy, and petty. The street, the underworld - filthy neighborhoods from the underworld - where Pasolini finds passion, sensuality, and desperate vitality.
Pasolini lived with his mother until his murder in 1975. Similar to her famous role as Madonna, who tries to touch her crying son in the movie "The Gospel, according to Matti," she buried him in the soil of his childhood village. Unlike the criticism he attributed to the father figure (bourgeois, fascist), Pasolini adored his mother. She represented the old, immaculate, pre-modern, and authentic world he admired.
As in other Western European countries, a process of unification and industrialization into a modern nation began in Italy in the middle of the 19th century. Until then, Italy was a vibrant mosaic of districts and provinces of different cultural and social forms. In all his films, Pasolini was drawn to the fading world of ancient Italy and sharply criticized predatory modernization. Rituals, songs, proverbs, local customs, different forms of thinking, instincts, desire, clothing, sex-- authenticity, and diversity were trampled in the face of fascism, and later capitalism, the bourgeoisie and modernization that promotes globalization, erasing the margins, flattening identity diversity, barbaric consumer culture and society of abundance, and the porn industry - A cultural genocide.
Pasolini's early works were controversial. At the Venice Film Festival, the local police confiscated the film Mama Roma due to its vulgarity and the derogatory words "piss" and "shit." Pasolini was tried and acquitted. Having found the source of his teasing, he took it further, making his social criticism more explicit. In his short film, La Ricotta stars Orson Welles as a movie director preparing a film about Christ Jesus. He declares, " Italians are the most illiterate people on the continent and the most ignorant bourgeoisie in Europe... The average citizen is a dangerous criminal, a monster. He is a racist, a colonialist, a defender of slavery, of mediocrity". In a single speech, he managed to attack and insult the Italians on the right and the left and everyone else in between.
With the release of the film in 1963, Pasolini was put on trial again for "insulting the state religion." The attacks came from every direction; in 1962, amid his third trial for sexual assault, an Italian press agency distributed a psychological analysis of Pasolini written by a professor at the University of Rome. The report concluded that "Pasolini is an instinctive psychopath. A pervert, gay in the absolute sense of the word... a socially dangerous man.” The Catholic nation was shocked by the gay filmmaker who publicly declared atheism.
Political ideology, religion, and classical Mythology
Conversely, it was the church that supported his next film, the masterpiece The Gospel According to Matthew, a film about the Christian Jesus. The film takes place in the primitive and impoverished villages of southern Italy. The cast is primarily local peasants. Pasolini's camera moves methodically - filming their faces - looking for spiritual meaning in their rough features. In his style, a form of poetics of bodies and faces - he wants to touch the body and humanity - more than the touch of the realistic aesthetic form. He did not train his actors or write any original dialogue; the gospel text in the center here is blunt and crude.
Pasolini emphasizes the supernatural elements of the story at every possible opportunity. His Messiah, an economics student, a neglected Spanish scholar, less divine than a rotten politician, gathers his believers not through miracles but through convincing revelations about injustice and class injustice. He uses the Christian Christ to illustrate the suffering of the people in the lower ranks of Italian society. Instead of bringing the divine to the slums, he got the slums to the Holy.
Like his criticism of fascist Nazi Italy in the mythological film Oedipus Rex or Teorema with a beautiful and heavenly young man forcing a bourgeois family to confront the emptiness of its life; Or in the movie Pigsty, where two parallel stories about Nazism, sexual perversions, and a group of cannibals in the Middle Ages are interwoven, it is the death and loss of faith in an existing God, which Pasolini recognizes around him and seeks to return to the organic, wild and unrestrained substance, to the natural and earthy. Oedipal complexes, castration anxiety, hatred/adoration of women, communism and Catholicism, perversion, homosexuality, and love of man, Pasolini does not look for the unmistakable but the ambivalent concerning all his subjects and asks us viewers to think and reflect about different points for discussion.
Salo - or 120 Days of Sodom from 1975 is a screen adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's book. The film strongly criticizes fascism and idealism and claims that moral redemption is just a myth. Pasolini moved the plot of the book to the Republic of Salo, a Nazi-sponsored fascist puppet state. The protagonists in the film are a decadent president, duke, bishop, and judge who order the army to kidnap young country boys and girls to an isolated estate. In the opening scenes, we see the naked bodies of young men and women lined up like cattle for slaughter and murdered because of their physical traits, qualities, beauty, and fragility. Little by little, in a meticulously bourgeois and stylish way, the rulers force their victims into a more and more horrifying progression of sexuality and incest, rape and humiliation, objectification of a human image and its breaking.
The patrons present an elaborate rulebook designed to control and organize their orgy rituals. "Everything is good when it is exaggerated," says one of the men in the film's opening line. Punishment for consensual heterosexual sex is the loss of a limb. Similar to the punishments of ancient empires for "obscene" acts. Pasolini's approach is just as brutal as that of the leaders. The film systematically destroys morality, society, and politics. one after the other. The joy, beauty, and sensuality of the human body were the first to be shattered by Pasolini. Any religious or spiritual action is cause for execution. Even the sanctity of the dead is mocked. After the victims have been exterminated in a gruesome torture sequence set in the palace courtyard, the camera pans back upstairs, where, in a moment of awkward beauty, two young fascist guards embrace each other and dance cheek to cheek.
The 120 Days of Sodom is not only a condemnation of a tyrannical, fascist, or Nazi ideology, it is a condemnation of modernity or postmodernity, of the excess of mass consumption, of religion, of the rule of law, of bureaucracy, of sexual liberation and sexual traditionalism, of free will and totalitarianism, of life and death.
Pasolini was murdered three weeks before the film was released. His mutilated body was found in a field outside Rome in November 1975. He was beaten repeatedly and, while still alive, was run over by his car.