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The Canterbury Tales [DVD] [1972]


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The Canterbury Tales [DVD] [1972] + The Decameron / Notes for an African Oresteia (DVD + Blu-ray) + Arabian Nights (DVD + Blu-ray)
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Product details

  • Directors: Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 27 April 2009
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TQROA8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,615 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Director Pier Paolo Pasolini followed his version of 'The Decameron' with this bawdy and scandalous adaptation of Chaucer's tales. Officially declared obscene by the Italian courts, the film is a catalogue of different sexual acts, including flagellation, voyeurism and sleeping with watermelons. It includes elements of eight different Chaucer tales - those of the Merchant, Friar, Cook, Miller, Wife of Bath, Reeve, Pardoner and Summoner - and ends with Pasolini's celebrated vision of hell.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on 31 July 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It should be noted that this is not the director's cut that won the top prize at the 1972 Berlin Film Festival. That version ran 140 minutes while this one clocks in at 112 minutes. That's almost 30 minutes of missing footage which no doubt explains the choppy quality of the editing and the incoherent nature of some of the stories. I first saw this movie in the English version when it played in U.S. theaters back in 1980. There was no NC-17 rating back then and so it was rated X. I watched as within the first hour virtually everyone walked out of the film. It seems that they were expecting a porno version of classic literature (remember GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES FOR ADULTS?) but didn't get the sex they were looking for. While there were sex scenes, it was the full frontal male nudity and the gay sex that got the X rating. That and the infamous ending which still has to be seen to be believed. Today it's interesting to note that in the U.K. the film now carries a 15 rating instead of an 18 yet it's still the same film which is definitely not for purists.

If you are familiar with the works of Pier Paolo Pasolini (who plays Chaucer) then the nature and the overall look of the film will come as no surprise. In addition to being a filmmaker and an actor, Pasolini was a poet, a Marxist, a gay rights activist, and a political agitator. It was the last two activities which led to his murder on November 2, 1975. He was 53. His films have a deliberately primitive style that recalls the films of D. W. Griffith and those of Italian Neorealism. Pasolini deliberately used non-professionals in many of his films to achieve the look he wanted and to get "unaffected" performances. The film was made in several of Chaucer's English locations giving the stories a real sense of verisimilitude.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LeBrit on 26 Sept. 2012
Format: DVD
There are remarkable scenes in this film like in all Pasolini films. One has to suspend belief and drive on autopilot, ignoring the bits that grate and wallow in the bits that really, really magically work (for some obscure reason) as Pasolini is a very different director after all. Above all the film befits the bawdy tale as opposed to other rendition which have been brought in line with particularly uptight middle class sensibilities. So, if you have those it will shock and maybe even offend you. And all hail to that!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Fransexluimi on 6 Feb. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is truly a classic film one of the Greats of Pasolinini, interpreting and making Chaucer's Canterbury Tales sing out to us as real life characters spanning the centuries, and from the very different world of some of the Pilgrims portrayed. This is not an accurate translation of Chaucer but the most lighthearted and sinister exposition of the harshness and ribald life of Chaucer's time for very English characters to play. It is really good to see English actors strutt their stuff but the best of all is the Italian actress that plays the insufferable Wife of Bath. Part of the secret is that Chaucer's England probably was, in spirit, far closer to Pasolini's Italy than we like to think...When you play it be sure you use the English dubbing because the Italian version also available is definitely not as good.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Leeson on 8 April 2010
Format: DVD
This completes my collection if Pasolini's "Trilogy of Life". I had never actually seen this movie before and ordered it out of curiosity. I've really loved The Decameron since I first saw it 35 years ago, The Arabian Nights less so but still enjoyable. The Canterbury Tales has all of the fun of "The Decameron" and much of the light, despite the rain and mud. I thoroughly enjoyed it although I may never see Dr Who in the same light again!! Thw quality of the dvd itself exceeded my expectations. It may even have surpassed the bfi editions of the other two which I bought during a trip to the UK in 2005 and was certainly considerably cheaper.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 26 Jan. 2015
Format: DVD
This second film in Pasolini's Trilogy of Life doesn't quite have the narrative elegance of his take on Boccaccio or indeed of the Arabian Nights which followed it, and some of the tales seem a bit disjointed. This is no doubt because the film exists in quite a cut version, apparently. However there is a great deal to enjoy, starting with the recreation of medieval England that has both beauty and coarseness. The architectural settings are often aesthetically wonderful, with Roman cathedrals and cloisters and some beautiful landscapes. As if to offset the tendency to green fields under grey skies - even with evocative mists - the characters appear in some very colourful costumes, whose cut leaves little to the imagination all round. In fact this is probably the bawdiest of the three films, being the most scatological, but Pasolini combines this with some of the most sexy young lads who have never set foot inside a dentist's surgery - it is amazing how he found them. Their appeal is offset against their selfishness or coarseness in some of the tales, particularly the last ... but some of the others have more humorous outcomes. Pasolini himself features as Chaucer, while Ninetto Davoli reprises his clown-like role that was a high point in The Decameron. The crowd scenes are brilliantly handled and also contain some well-trained livestock that makes these moments look like a painting by Jacopo Bassano - all life is here, pele-mele, with sex and self-interest to the fore, largely, but what a pageant to look at, shot through with sudden shafts of poetry. The dubbing creates an unusual effect, as you get in his mythological films, as it is meant to be deliberately distancing.Read more ›
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