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Pasolini and Citti - their first great achievement
on 22 June 2012
This is a very impressive package from Masters of Cinema including a stunning BD transfer of Pasolini's first film and Franco Citti's first acting role. Both are spectacular achievements; Pasolini seems to come to film making with a fully formed visual language, while non-professional Citti turns in an extraordinary performance as the pimp Accattone.
For a moment when the black on white titles begin, accompanied by the music of Bach you might think that you have mistakenly put on The Gospel According to Matthew, but it's just Pasolini setting us up for a slap around face. Immediately after we are treated to a quote from Dante's Purgatory Pasolini throws us directly into a world of layabouts, pimps, prostitutes and thieves who scrape a meagre living in the shanty towns on the outskirts of Roma.
The Dante quote is interesting and it's something like: the Devil is furious with God for snatching away yet another sinner who repents [sheds a tear] at the last moment. Since the building of St. Peter's was partially financed by the sale of indulgences [meaning that the sinner receives remission from punishment in Purgatory] it must surely be this hypocrisy that Pasolini alludes to, and consequently must cast doubt on what appears to be Accattone's redemptive moment at the end of the film. One thing is for certain Accattone never paid for any indulgences but he's still going to the same place as everyone else; nowhere.
While Accattone is in Academy ratio the package also includes a very interesting mid-60's feature length documentary in 1.66.1 in which the director interviews the Italian public on their views about sex and relationships. Some of it is not pretty if you're a woman or gay. In spite of nearly half a century passing I expect many of the attitudes expressed still prevail today. It's nicely ironic that the person putting the questions about 'inverts' is Pasolini.
Talking of homosexuality, I started listening to Tony Rayns commentary to Accattone until the point where he started talking about the homo-erotic nature of the early scenes in which the men are hanging out down by the river in their trunks. This kind of fatuous academicism is peddled at every opportunity these days particularly in the case of Pasolini and Paradjanov and is so often in critique of wholly asexual scenes where the only prerequisite for such remarks is a knowledge of the directors sexual orientation. Without that knowledge the notion would never have entered the mind and there's not a single shot to justify the claim.
However, excellent package, excellent films, excellent value.