What a moviemaker, what a groundbreaker, what a man was Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)! Ahead of his time in so many ways, he gave us the gospel without the usual religious frou-frou and histrionics, was the first to set the criminal poor to soaring classical music, and was certainly one of the earlier homo-
sexual champions of the right to be homosexual. Brave, talented, foolish and strong, the man and his work remain standard bearers today.
Pasolini was a poet of visual cinema, but I was not nearly as aware of what a verbal poet he could be. Listening to the striking words that accompany his remarkable La Rabbia (from 1963) -- recon-
structed by Giuseppe Bertolucci and making its American debut as the opening attraction of the New York Film Festival's annual Views from the Avant-Garde -- I was taken aback by the beauty of his language (at least in the fine, subtitled translation). The verbiage here speeds by awfully fast, so I know I missed some of what was going on, but what it pleasure it was to even try to keep up! (This is a film that demands two -- maybe twenty -- viewings.)
|With lightning speed, the writer/director gives us history, from the leftist viewpoint. Not just any leftist, however: Pasolini skewers hypocrisy wherever he sees it, whether in Russia, Cuba or at Queen Elizabeth's coronation (Terence Davies would appreciate these moments!). Full of righteous anger, the movie demands a lot of knowledge of history -- particularly Italian history -- about which most of us American come up short. Still, so dense with ideas and connections is this film, that I suspect anyone with any interest in Pasolini or history will find it utterly fascinating. (It also makes a wonderful bookend to the Chris Marker movies, A Grin Without a Cat and The Case of the Grinning Cat. These two leftist filmmakers could hardly be more different in some ways, yet their films bounce off each other wonderfully well. Imagine a dialog between them!)|