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Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini: Contemporary Perspectives

  • Book Info
    Pier Paolo Pasolini
    Book Description:

    A reexamination of Pasolini life and work as a poet, novelist, filmmaker, journalist and cultural theorist reflecting new developments in semiotics, post-structuralist theory, and historical research on Italian literature and film.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7848-4
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chronology
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-13)

    For Pier Paolo Pasolini, the visual language of film was a ʹtransnationalʹ and ʹtransclassʹ language, one that could embrace a community of spectators from all over the world, and from all levels of society. This was certainly one of the reasons Pasolini began making films in the early 1960s, after more than a decade in which his reputation as a poet and novelist had been secured. Thereafter, while much else in his thinking, in his poetry, and in his politics underwent strong transformations, Pasolini never abandoned the transnational aspirations of his filmmaking, which indeed climaxed in hisTrilogy of Life,...

  7. Pier Paolo, My Cousin ...
    (pp. 14-21)

    With the publication of hisPasolini: Una vitain 1989, Nico Naldini firmly established himself as the most insightful and authoritative of Pasoliniʹs biographers (besides being himself a noted poet). This is due in part to the fact that Naldini is Pasoliniʹs first cousin, and he was also one of his closest friends and collaborators throughout Pasoliniʹs life. For a period during the war, Pasoliniʹs family shared the Naldini home in Casarsa della Delizia, in Friuli. Subsequently, Naldini was present during the much-discussed, indeed nearly ʹmythical,ʹ period of Pasoliniʹs adolescence in Friuli. Naldini was also on hand when in 1949...

  8. Pasoliniʹs ʹRoman Novels,ʹ the Italian Communist Party, and the Events of 1956
    (pp. 22-39)

    In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev delivered his denunciation of Joseph Stalin, an event with seismic repercussions in the Communist parties throughout Western Europe, including Italy. In this tactful and thorough essay, Joseph Francese focuses discussion of Pasoliniʹs often troubled relationship with the Italian Communist Party at just that moment. In this account of the polemics occasioned by the first of his two ʹRoman novels,ʹRagazzi di Vita(The Ragazzi[1955]), a critical debate coinciding with the ʹevents of ʹ56,ʹ Francese draws directly on the exchanges between Carlo Salinari and the other editors of the Communist reviewContempomneoand Pasolini concerning his...

  9. Pasolini, Zanzotto, and the Question of Pedagogy
    (pp. 40-55)

    In this essay Jennifer Stone examines Pasoliniʹs writing and cinema in the context of the centuries-old debates, that began with Dante but continue to this day, concerning the standard language and dialects of Italy (thequestione delta lingua). During his entire lifetime, Pasolini constantly experimented in linguistic pastiche, mixing standard Italian and regional dialects in his poetry, novels, and films; and he was an energetic, if often discounted, participant in arguments concerning the fortunes of the Italian national language (as noted in Franceseʹs essay in this volume). Stone discusses the pedagogical and psychological significance of Pasoliniʹs linguistic pluralism and his...

  10. Pasoliniʹs ʹSecond Victoryʹ
    (pp. 56-77)

    In his essay Walter Siti examines Pasoliniʹs poetic and narrative writings of the 1970s, an area that has been largely neglected by North American Pasolini scholarship up to now. By way of a psychoanalytic approach, Siti describes how Pasoliniʹs work comes full circle when in 1975 he publishesLa nuova gioventù, a book in which Pasolini collects his own previously published Friulian poems (written between 1941 and 1953) along with new Friulian ones (written in 1974), which represent poetic and often bitter reworkings of those original verses. For Siti, these poems offer insights into how Pasolini looked upon his own...

  11. Free/Indirect/Discourse
    (pp. 78-87)

    In this essay, Paolo Fabbri addresses Pasoliniʹs often unorthodox ideas concerning the semiotics of film. During the late sixties and early seventies, debates in film semiotics focused on the possibility of drawing analogies between literary and cinematic narrative models, and on the appropriateness of applying analytical paradigms derived from linguistics to the study of film. Fabbri takes as his starting point the argument between Pasolini, Umberto Eco, and Christian Metz concerning whether or not there was a ʹdouble articulationʹ in film language, basing themselves largely on André Martinetʹs Saussurean analysis of the double articulation in spoken-written language. From this discussion...

  12. The Body of Pasoliniʹs Semiotics: A Sequel Twenty Years Later
    (pp. 88-105)

    Far too few of Pasoliniʹs enormous volume of essays and articles have been translated for English readers to recognize how Pasolini allowed the different disciplinary orders of investigation to ʹcontaminateʹ each other in the body of his writing. In this wide-ranging and suggestive essay Giuliana Bruno first briefly catalogues the great range of Pasoliniʹs essays and then addresses his singular ambition, that semiology might become a ʹphilosophy.ʹ Pasoliniʹs first forays into a film semiotics during the mid-1960s arose from an epistemological desire to bring reality and cinema closer. This effort, at the height of the ʹstructuralistʹ moment of semiology, drew...

  13. Toward a Materialist Linguistics: Pasoliniʹs Theory of Language
    (pp. 106-126)

    From his first efforts as a young poet through to the end of his career as a essayist and filmmaker, the question of language remained absolutely critical to Pasoliniʹs thinking. He devoted many efforts toward formulating a theory to meet his concerns and his diverse artistic activities, efforts pursued within often politically charged debates about language. In this essay, Silvestra Mariniello proposes to set out a theoretical bridge between a Marxist understanding of ideology and the methods of structuralist linguistics associated with Ferdinand de Saussure. She analyses Pasoliniʹs linguistic theories through an approach suggested by the work of Bakhtin, Medvedev,...

  14. A Genial Analytic Mind: ʹFilmʹ and ʹCinemaʹ in Pier Paolo Pasoliniʹs Film Theory
    (pp. 127-151)

    David Wardʹs essay provides an important correction of the commonly held notion that Pasoliniʹs film theory relied entirely on an idea of the ʹunmediatedʹ or realist reproductions of the ʹlong take.ʹ This is perhaps true of the earlier (1966–7) film essays and especially of Pasoliniʹs famous statement, ʹCinema of Poetry.ʹ But, as Ward shows through close investigation of a wide range of his writings, Pasolini alternately privileges the ʹcinemaʹ of potentially infinite long takes and the ʹfilmʹ with its editing and narrative structures. This makesHeretical Empiricisman ʹunstable but nonetheless rich text.ʹ The crux of the issue, to...

  15. Manifesto for a New Theatre
    (pp. 152-170)

    Pier Paolo Pasoliniʹs response to the events of May 1968 was highly controversial. He sympathized not with the student revolutionaries but with the police. The real victims of society, said Pasolini, were not the students, the spoilt products of corrupt bourgeois culture, but the police, the sons of the proletariat, forced by lack of educational opportunity and chronic unemployment to take the jobs nobody else wanted.¹ Pasolini interpreted the confrontations between students and police differently from most left-wing intellectuals, not as the first steps in a liberation but as confirmation of the extent to which bourgeois ideology had taken control...

  16. Accattone and Mamma Roma
    (pp. 171-179)

    After a short apprenticeship in filmmaking as scenarist and dialogue adviser in the 1950s, the decade in which he also published his two ʹRoman novels,ʹ Pasolini abruptly abandoned writing fiction for film directing, beginning withAccattoneandMamma Roma. Taking Pasoliniʹs quotations of Dante as a leitmotif, P. Adams Sitney situates his ʹstrange fascination with filming versions of thevia crucisʹ (ʹway of the crossʹ) within, and also against, the predominant genre of ʹspiritual biographyʹ of art cinema in the period. Sitney precisely locates Pasoliniʹs precedents in Dreyer, Bresson, Fellini, Bergman, and De Sica, but measures the distances Pasolini sets...

  17. To Film a Gospel ... and Advent of the Theoretical Stranger
    (pp. 180-209)

    The ʹsacredʹ and ʹepicʹ qualities of Pasoliniʹs film style are the focus of Bart Testaʹs analysis of Pasoliniʹs adaptationIl Vangelo secondo Matteo(The Gospel According to St. Matthew[1964]) and the later allegorical filmTeorema(1968). Testa sidesteps the dominant auteurist approach toIl Vangelo, and focuses upon a detailed analysis of Pasoliniʹs adaptation, his stylistic solutions in filming a pre-modern, ʹlaconicʹ text, and he demonstrates the significance of Pasoliniʹs film through a comparison with other examples in the ʹJesus filmʹ genre. Pasoliniʹs film avoided many of the pitfalls of traditional approaches to this genre (from Griffith to Scorsese),...

  18. Stylistic Contamination in the Trilogia della vita: The Case of Il fiore delle mille e una notte
    (pp. 210-231)

    Although colourful, erotic, lively, and a pleasure to watch, Pier Paolo Pasoliniʹs adaptations of three classic medieval ʹproto-novels,ʹThe Decameron, Canterbury Tales, andThe Arabian Nights, comprising theTrilogia della vita, were, Pasolini said, ʹthe most ideological films I have ever made.ʹ In this analysis of the trilogy, Patrick Rumble argues that we should not look to their surfaces but into their depths, which Pasolini understood to be the level of narrative structures and visual strategies where we will find ʹhomologiesʹ with social and economic structures. Rumble focuses on the third film of theTrilogiaalong two vectors: Pasoliniʹs use...

  19. Salò: The Refusal to Consume
    (pp. 232-242)

    Pasoliniʹs violent death in 1975 deeply coloured the reception of his last film,Saiò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma, which immediately served as a climax of the artistʹs often scandalous career. Many, and even some close to Pasolini, leapt to the conclusion that the film arose from the directorʹs inner demons, that it was a confessional and regrettable work. Others, more sophisticated in their appraisal, such as Roland Barthes, saw the film as a political allegory of fascism, and attacked it as such. In this essay, Naomi Greene revisits these responses and moves beyond them, taking seriously Pasoliniʹs pessimistic...

  20. Tetis
    (pp. 243-250)

    Pasolini wrote the following essay in December 1973, during the editing ofThe Arabian Nights, the third film of theTrilogy of Life. It should thus be considered, along with his ʹAbjuration of theTrilogy of Lifeʹ (see Pasolini, ʹAbiuraʹ) written in 1975, one of the places in which he expressed himself most clearly regarding theTrilogyand the concerns raised during its production. In it Pasolini focuses on the topics of the representation of sexuality (ʹtetisʹ) in cinema, sexual permissiveness in general, and he responds to those critics who held him responsible for the explosion of low-budget, pornographic versions...

  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-253)
  22. Filmography
    (pp. 254-255)
  23. Contributors
    (pp. 256-258)