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The Decameron [DVD] [1972]

4.0 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Franco Citti, Ninetto Davoli, Jovan Jovanovic, Vincenzo Amato, Angela Luce
  • Directors: Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Writers: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Giovanni Boccaccio
  • Producers: Alberto Grimaldi, Franco Rossellini
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 7 May 2001
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005ATG2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,545 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

DVD Special Features
Italian language, English subtitles

From the Back Cover

The first of Pasolini’s colourful, entertaining and highly erotic Trilogy of Life films based on famous story cycles (to be followed by The Canterbury Tales and Arabian Nights), The Decameron contains ten stories based on the fourteenth century works of Giovanni Boccaccio.

Capturing the bawdy, earthy spirit of the original, the film romps through its tales of sex and death – of lusty nuns and priests, cuckolded husbands, murdered lovers and grave-robbers, with five of the stories linked by an artist, ‘Giotto’s pupil’, played by Pasolini himself.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is the second in a series of uncut versions of Pasolini's final films the BFI is releasing on DVD uncut. After the shocking impact of his last film, the formerly banned 'Salo', this playful (if sexually graphic) comedy seems almost insignificant. Subsequent viewings, however, reveal great depth beneath its bawdy exterior - and his extended cameo as a fresco painter reveals a lot about his view of himself as an artist (the final phrase being particularly memorable).
BFI's disc of Decameron is as good as can be expected. The print (slightly more severely letterboxed than the 1.66 indicated, but looks accurate) suffers from the problems one would expect from the type of film - cheaply made using mostly hand-helds and cheap filmstock, and natural lighting rendering many scenes overtly dark. The post-dubbed sound is harsh and/or distorted, but ok. Of more concern perhaps is the fact that the subtitles are burnt-in (not digital like on Salo - although even these were not removable for some reason) - and in some of the more troublesome dark scenes the picture becomes so smudgy that it is difficult to know what is going on. This is clearly a fault of the budget, but anamorphic enhancement would have helped.
extras - biography, a link to BFIs site - nothing remarkable (although the liner notes are better than usual, and the packaging is more sturdy than that used for Salo).
But most importantly perhaps - this release marks the first occasion Decameron is availible uncut for home viewing in this country - and so comes highly recommended for fans of Pasolini and off-beat Italian film.
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I first saw this in the early 70"s in the Cine Citta, a small cinema off Leicester Square, on a handkerchief sized screen. At the time it was racy and unlike anything else being made, except by the likes of Ken Russell. I went to see it, primarily, because I had just finished Boccaccio's Decameron and was not disappointed by the film although it represents a mere 10th of the stories in the book. At the time, the film quality and the film treatment was definitely in the mode of art cinema and the neo-realism of Pasolini was just one of several "out there" for art students like myself. Coming back to the film more than 40 years later, it looks like an historic piece of film making, not because it lacks CGI, but because the film quality is much less than expected even by guerilla film makers on youtube. Despite this, the film still has charm, in no small part due to the beguiling personalities of the amateurs who make up most of the cast and are believably medieval in looks and no doubt behaviour, looking much like the characters of a Brueghel painting. The stories more or less hang together as the camera presents a seemingly panoramic view of the town and countryside, panning from one tableaux to another, introducing each new aspect as it goes. There is plenty of nudity, male and female, that fits with the storyline, but no airbrushed, artificially enhanced characteristics: the actors, just as they are, neither particularly beautiful, nor especially ugly, but earthily human and free of artifice. This is a great film, in many ways, exploring how people of all eras negotiate the strictures of life and moral framework of church and state to live and find simple pleasures that are, at least in Pasolini's vision, free of the sin or guilt of sexual pleasure, or other peccadilloes, less savoury, like robbery, murder and heresy, but just as much a part of life. The version I watched is DVD as I do not have a Blue-Ray player: this set has both in it.
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Format: DVD
'The Decameron' is one Pasolini's trilogy of films ('Arabian Nights' and 'Canterbury Tales' are the others) exploring the role of the storyteller and the translation of this timeless vocal tradition into a cinematic one. The cinema has typically taken on board the format of the novel - it presents one central story, with maybe a couple of subplots, seen from the point of view of one of the protagonists or of a neutral onlooker. The storytelling tradition, however, while it might include epics like the 'Iliad', generally follows shorter stories, and often relates these to a specific moral.
Pasolini provides a cavalcade of tales exploring life and death, lust and sex, the materialism of the peasant world, the carnality of life. If there is a moral it is that sex and lust are blessings. Here, sex is presented as a political act - we all have ultimate political control over our own bodies; and here Pasolini explores the nature of belief, contrasting the real, physical, material world of sex and abandonment with the censorship and authoritarianism of religion. Pasolini was fascinated by the interaction of the Marxist and Catholic traditions within Italy ... and with the world of the traditional peasant before they became anachronisms with the growth of cities and the development of an industrialised economy.
'The Decameron' is set in a medieval world which embodies the traditional values of rough peasant sex, duplicity, and conflict with the moral certainties of the Church. We have nuns forsaking their vows of chastity, cuckolded husbands, a celebration of bodily functions. We have comedy, drama, music. It's lewd, it's bawdy, and there are bodies aplenty.
Here we have life, bounded by rules, but rules which are often pure hypocrisy.
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