mon 16/05/2022

DVD: Pasolini | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Pasolini

DVD: Pasolini

Abel Ferrara’s portrait of the provocative Italian director depicts a consummate self-actualiser

Willem Dafoe as the elusive Pasolini

“A huge lizard in sunglasses” was Robin Askwith’s impression of Pier Paolo Pasolini on first meeting the Italian director.

The actor’s entertaining, often funny and affectionate recollections of Pasolini are heard during a lengthy interview which is one of the extras on the home cinema release of Abel Ferrara’s homage to the director of Accattone, Theorem, Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom and The Canterbury Tales, which featured Askwith. By bringing a wider context, the interview contrasts with Pasolini which, instead of dramatising Pasolini’s career, focuses on the events in the hours before his death on 2 November 1975.

Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini contrasts the mundane, which could figure in anyone’s life, and encounters specific to the director’s routine. His last day is seen as an impressionistic jigsaw. There is lunch with friends and associates; an interview with a portentous French journalist; the search for a young man to have sex with; and he dips in and out the unrealised film Porno-Teo-Kolossal, which is recreated by Ferrara. Although linear in terms of its time-line, Pasolini draws on elements of its subject’s life overall to demonstrate that he was not just about film. But, in contrast to Askwith’s recollections, a sense of the man himself is elusive.

Willem Dafoe’s depiction of Pasolini is striking. Not only does he look just like his character he, indeed, comes over as a lizard in dark glasses. This Pasolini is a consummate self-actualiser: the shades are worn indoors and he glides through his world as the encapsulation of what this intellectual and provocative director ought to be. There are no chinks in the persona. This appears to be the impression Ferrara has sought to achieve. In the booklet accompanying the release, he states that Pasolini was “an artist engaged in his work and the world…always living in the moment.”

While the film is terrifically assured and paints its world with authority, beyond being a tribute to one of Ferrara's inspirations it is hard otherwise to see the point. The chilly Pasolini enthrals as auteur cinema, but says more about its director's preoccupations than its subject.

‘Pasolini’ says more about its director's preoccupations than its subject


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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