PierPaolo Pasolini


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Pier Paolo Pasolini nacque nel 1922 a Bologna, dove si laureò in lettere, ma visse a lungo nel paese d'origine della madre, presso Udine. La sua attività di scrittore (prima poeta, poi romanziere) gli procurò subito vasti consensi nell'ambiente letterario di Roma, dove si era definitivamente trasferito. Al principio degli anni Sessanta, già affermato sceneggiatore, iniziò a cimentarsi anche con il cinema.

Le sue raccolte poetiche avevano rilevata un'angosciosa vocazione al diarismo lirico e uno strenuo travaglio ideologico, una poesia civile tormentata dal conflitto fra morale cristiana e teoria marxista. I suoi romanzi avevano invece mostrato un interesse morboso per la vita del sottoproletariato suburbano giovanile, espresso mediante tecniche linguistiche dialettali di derivazione gaddiana.

Dopo essere assurto a protagonista assoluto della vita culturale italiana, trovò la morte nel 1975 in circostanze misteriose, durante un incontro intimo con un ragazzo emarginato.

L'opera cinematografica di Pasolini ha inizio all'insegna dell'odio nei confronti dell'ordine borghese e della restituzione della dignità umana al microcosmo borgataro. La sua mitologia dei poveri si attua sotto forma di itinerari individuali attraverso una specie di Medio Evo anarchico e desolato, dove tutti gli impulsi sono al servizio degli insaziabili appetiti atavici: la fame e il sesso; sono proprio queste privazioni storiche a stimolare la dignità poetica dei reietti, sfiniti e randagi, avviati ineluttabilmente verso un destino di autodistruzione.

La Notte Brava (1959), diretto da Bolognini, ricalca i tipi e gli ambienti dei suoi primi romanzi: quattro ragazzi di borgata passano una notte a combinar bravate, furbi e spavaldi; rubano dei soldi, ma il gruppo si sfalda, e uno finisce in carcere, mentre l'ultimo all'alba, prima di rientrare in casa, getta in un prato il denaro rimastogli.

Una Giornata Balorda (1960), per lo stesso regista, descrive una giornata qualsiasi di un giovane disoccupato, passata a vagabondare in cerca di lavoro e ad incontrare persone squallide e, per chiudere in attivo, a rubare la fede di un cadavere.

In questi film Pasolini mostrava ancora l'interesse morboso per i giovani emarginati, seguiti nella loro avventurosa e disperata corsa verso il male senza alcun intendimento moralistico, senza neppure traccia di denuncia od orrore.

Allo stesso tema si rifà Accattone (1961), dove i debiti stilistici di Pasolini (il neorealismo, il futurismo sovietico, lo shimnu-goki giapponese), tutti diretti a forgiare un linguaggio filmico teso e scarno, ben si adattano alla rappresentazione di quel sordido quotidiano. Trapela inoltre l'aperta adesione di Pasolini alla violenza asociale dei ragazzi, che viene anzi nobilitata dal punto di vista politico (come protesta antiborghese) e da quello religioso (itinerario cristiano degli umili, del figliol prodigo).

Il ragazzo di vita è un cinico nichilista, sposato con un figlio, che si fa mantenere da una prostituta; ma quando l'arrestano ne cerca un'altra, e ne trova una che lo fa innamorare; è intenzionato a redimersi, ma la società lo esclude; costretto a rubare, viene sorpreso dalla polizia (avvertita dall'ex-amante) e durante la fuga si schianta con la moto contro un muro.

Mamma Roma (1962) is a bleak fresco of street life, counterbalanced by a portrait of visceral motherly love. Pasolini basically resurrects Pina, the stoic heroine of Rossellini's melodrama Open City, who died while pregnant at the end of World War II (1945). Here she is the mother of a teenage boy. She begins the story by laughing uncontrollably because her situation is improving: she is rising from the gutters. She can see a brighter future ahead. Italy has changed. Italy has been reconstructed and a decorous middle-class has emerged from the war. The heroic wartime idealism of people struggling for survival has been replaced by a sordid fatalism of outcasts who survive by prostituting themselves or robbing other people. But this time she is not the (doomed) protagonist: the (doomed) protagonist and anti-hero is her son. She too is doomed: her happiness was illusory, a better material life earned with prostitution turns out to be the antichamber to a different kind of hell.

"Mamma Roma" (Anna Magnani) attends a wedding in her home town, a small country village near Rome. The guests are seated like the apostles in Leonardo's "Last Supper". She brings some pigs and makes fun of the couple. She entertains the guests with her uncontrollable laughter, celebrating the end of five years of slavery. The groom is clearly upset. We understand that he is her former pimp Carmine. After the wedding she spots her teenage son Ettore on a merry-go-round, but he tries to avoid her. She follows him, he doesn't come close to her. Ettore's friends are clearly uncomfortable and leave them alone. They have not seen each other in a long time. She tells Ettore that she wants to bring him to Rome with her. He is not happy. She reminds him that she has sacrificed her life for him. He confesses that he is still illiterate. She brings him to her humble Rome flat and promises that soon they will move to a classy neighborhood. The pimp comes to talk to her. He reminds her that he was her son's age when he became her lover. His marriage is a disaster. He needs money to start a livestock business and asks her to prostitute herself again for ten more days so she can raise the money for him. Somehow she feels that she owes him. She was planning to move to the new place but she tells her son that it will take two more weeks while they stare at the cemetery from the window. One night two weeks later she says goodbye to her fellow prostitutes. While she walks away (on streets with no traffic) she tells the man who are hanging out in those streets the story of how her mother convinced her to marry an ugly, rich, 65-years-old man, with the prospect of inheriting his fortune. Except that the old man has not died (her mother did). She and her son finally move to the respectable neighborhood. She wants him to befriend the good kids of the neighborhood and marry one of the girls. They walk into the empty fields nearby and meet Bruna, single mother with a little child who is famous for sleeping with everybody. The well-respected kids leave Ettore to join three thugs who plan to rob a patient in his hospital room. Ettore walks back home alone through the fields that are used to socialize by the people of the new tenements. Bruna sees him and becomes his best friend. His mother, meanwhile, sells vegetables at the farmers' market. A fellow stall-owner tells her that Ettore is sleeping with Bruna. Ettore asks her for money and she knows it's for Bruna. Ettore meets second-hand dealer Gennarino, who encourages him to steal. She buys a little gift for Bruna. Bruna tells him that her baby is very sick. Meanwhile, his mother is worried that he is spending his days in the streets. She asks a priest for help to find him a job, but she admits that the kid has no skills and no education. He tells her to send him to school, but Ettore quickly gets bored of it. Five kids see Ettore walking with Bruna, hand in hand, and get jealous. They seize Bruna, who doesn't want to have sex with them, but they are too many. Ettore tries to defend her and gets beaten unconscious. Bruna doesn't really try to resist, nor does she worry too much about Ettore lying in the dusty street. Meanwhile, Mamma Roma has come up with a plan: she asks for help from her old friend Biancofiore, a fellow prostitute, and from her pimp to frame a wealthy man so he will do anything for her. She wants a job for Ettore. She also asks Biancofiore to seduce her boy so he will forget Bruna. The first plan works, and she is excited that her son can start working. She even buys him a motorcycle. She is so proud of seeing him serve as a waiter in the restaurant of the rich man. The second plan also seems to work, or at least Biancofiore tells her that Ettore was crazy for her in bed. One day her old pimp, Carmine, rings the bell of Mamma Roma's apartment. He walks in uninvited, marveling at her new dignified life. He got tired of the countryside and has left his wife. He, much younger than her, blames her for turning him into a pimp. She wants to kick him out of her life for good but he threatens to tell Ettore that she was a prostitute unless... she returns to prostitute herself. One night, while she is looking for customers, she tells the story of her first marriage to the young men who follow her. Ettore's father was a delinquent who was arrested during their wedding, leaving her a virgin. She talks about all the criminals and amoral people who contributed to destroy her life, and asks "whose fault is it?" Ettore has quit his job and now is hanging out again with the young thugs. And he doesn't show any respect for his mother, who is bitterly disappointed. Ettore is disgusted having realizes that his mother is a prostitute. A feverish Ettore decides to rob the patients of the hospital, something he has done many times: stealing from the people who are about to die. This time he get caught. In prison his health deteriorates, he gets delirious. The guards strap him to a wooden bedframe. He feels that he is dying and invokes his mother. Mamma Roma learns of his death while she is working at the market. She runs back to her apartment and tries to jump from the window, but she is stopped by the view of the dome of a church.

The short La Ricotta (1962) is a didactic farce whose protagonist is not the famous director and not even the protagonist of the film that is being filmed but a humble extra who has not eaten in a long time. His fate is to be scorned and humiliated all the way to the cross, where he dies in a grotesque manner: because he ate too much. The message is a stern warning to the lumperproletariat, that wealth kills.

A famous director (Orson Welles) is making a film on the Passion of Jesus. The troupe is camped in the countryside. Besides the actors and the crew there is an extra without pants hired to play the thief on the cross. This extra is chronically hungry. He takes advantage of the confusion to wear the clothes of an actor and obtain the lunch bag, but he hides it in a place where his dog finds it and eats it. He cries but then hugs his dog. In between scenes the crew dance at loud frantic rock music. A journalist in white overalls interviews the director, who declares he is a Marxist and a Catholic, and then reads poetic lines from Pasolini's own script of "Mamma Roma". The journalist likes the dog, and the hungry extra immediately sells it to him for a small sum. With the money he runs to buy food but he has to hide it again because he is called on the set. When the scene is over, he runs to the food and starts eating it voraciously. (Every time he runs the film shows it at double speed, like in the old slapsticks). The actress impersonating Mary sees him and starts laughing. The rest of the crew join her, laughing nonstop, and bringing more food for him, entertained by his unstoppable hunger. The filming resumes with the scene on top of Mt Calvary, with the sound effects of the wind and the thunder, except that the crowd walking up towards the crosses is a crowd of urban aristocrats, followed and photographed by paparazzis. Jesus and the thief are already crucified. The thief is rehearsing the one and only line that he has to recite. But when the filming resumes the hungry extra is dead: he ate too much.

La riscoperta in chiave metaforica dei Vangeli si attua completamente attraverso il mediocre Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (1964), ispirato ad un cristianesimo umano alla Dreyer o Bresson, riveduto nell'ottica marxista, ambientato fra le popolazioni arretrate del Sud, e interpretato da attori non professionisti.

The film (a faithful retelling of the Gospels' story) is pompous, very slow and further hurt by obnoxious recitation, with scenes that seem to mock Hollywood's biblical colossal movies. The narrative is disjointed in an amateurish way.

In a landscape of caves the angel tells Joseph to marry the virgin Mary, who, already pregnant, welcomes him with a smile. People come from all over the world to bless the child Jesus. The Roman soldiers try to find the child but are defeated. The family has to flee to Egypt. The adult Jesus is tempted by Satan in the desert for 40 days. He finally returns to Palestine and recruits the apostles along the way, warning that the kingdom of heaven is coming and promising that the last will be the first. The only one who speaks is Jesus, and the collage of sayings sounds a little delirious. He begins to perform miracles and becomes famous. Eventually the mob turns against him. He is arrested, tried in front of Pilate, sentenced to die, escorted to Mt Calvary, crucified. Processato da Ponzio Pilato, viene condannato alla crocifissione e la resurrezione conclude la sua vita terrena.

Risale a questo periodo anche un crescente interesse antropologico, che produsse "appunti filmici" sulle civiltà dell'Asia e dell'Africa, da lui visitate a più riprese e destinate a divenire parte integrante delle sue suggestioni poetico-filosofiche.

Uccellacci e Uccellini (1966) è un più intellettuale film-saggio sulla crisi dell'ideologia marxista, che, affiancando ai soliti disperati senza valori un corvo metaforico, controfigura di Pasolini stesso, si propone anche come confessione sincera e autobiografica, sulla scia delle sue migliori poesie. L'umorismo sociologico del film ribadisce il messaggio umanitario cristiano-marxista in modi francescano-chapliniani.

Grottesco e surreale il film condanna per la prima volta a morte non il sottoproletario ma l'intellettuale che cerca di aiutarlo, l'intellettuale che ancora non ha capito qual è l'unica ideologia del povero: la fame. Pasolini demolisce un po' tutte le interpretazioni colte della miseria (religiose e politiche), e si schiera dalla parte delle contraddizioni di coloro che la miseria la sperimentano tutti i giorni.

Due sottoproletari picareschi, il vecchio Totò e suo figlio Ninetto Davoli, assunti a simbolo dell'umanità in cammino verso un futuro imprevedibile, attraversano una vasta periferia moderna, ma talmente spopolata da ricordare gli ampi spazi incolti del Medio Evo; a loro si unisce un corvo parlante, nato a Ideologia e figlio del dubbio e della coscienza, che racconta loro un proverbio medioevale; il proverbio è interpretato sempre da loro due: due frati che hanno ricevuto da san Francesco l'ordine di predicare agli uccelli, e Totò si raccoglie per un anno intero in preghiera finchè non riesce a capire la loro lingua; comincia allora a predicare ai falchi; dopo un altro anno di preghiere riesce a parlare anche con i passeri; ma nonostante l'impegno i falchi continuano a mangiare i passeri (parabola sulla lotta di classe). Accompagnati dal roco e caustico commento del corvo, i due vagabondi proseguono le loro avventure: Totò viene preso a fucilate per aver concimato un campo, vende antifecondativi per callifughi a una compagnia di saltimbanchi, sfratta una donna spacciandosi per cinico uomo d'affari, si umilia a fare il cane lupo per un riccone, assistono ai funerali di Tolgiatti, fa l'amore con una prostituta. Alla fine i due agguantano il corvo e ne fanno un arrosto.

The short Che Cosa sono le Nuvole? (1967) is another philosophical, and almost spiritual, fairy tale that depicts us as puppets in the hands of an invisible puppeteer, locked in the theater where we obey his orders, and only when we die we can escape that prison and see the real beauty of the universe.

A crew sets a dozen puppets on a theater stage. The puppets are played by real people, who even gossip about their condition. They recognize the voice of the garbage man, who always sings a melancholy song when he picks up the garbage of the theater. We barely see the puppeteer, then the action begins: they are reenacting Shakespeare's "Othello". Jago (played by comedian Toto) is the most active. The puppeteer responds to Othello's monologue, and Jago comments on Othello's doubts. Jago sets up Othello to kill Desdemona, but, when Othello is about to strangle her, the outraged audience rushes on stage and tears Jago and Othello to pieces. The two puppets are thrown in the garbage outside the theater. The others hear the garbage man singing and know what is happening. One of them remarks that sooner or later this will happen to each of them. Jago and Othello, thrown in the back of the garbage truck, are terrified because they don't know what is going to happen to them. The garbage man dumps them in the garbage dump and for the first time they see the clouds that they had never seen in the theater. Jago is amazed by the beauty of nature.

Comincia nel 1967 il periodo delle trasposizioni letterarie, periodo che coincide con una crescente padronanza, soprattutto figurativa, del mezzo filmico. L'eleganza quasi barocca delle sue opere stravolge i significati originali in dure requisitorie borghesi o in inquietanti analisi della violenza.

L'Edipo Re (1967) bridges the world of contemporary bourgeoisie and of Greek mythology. The desert setting is spectacular, exotic and metaphysical, and never mind that the desert is not Greek at all (the film was made in Morocco). The plot is rather thin. Very little happens, it just happens very slowly. Pasolini is a great painter, but not a great storyteller.

A son is born and raised by his mother Jocasta in a quiet rural middle-class setting of fascist Italy before World War II. The key scene is narrated by captions: the father, a soldier, is jealous that the baby is already stealing the woman's love from him. The father, Laius, pays an old man to take the baby, naked and tied upside down a pole, to the desert. Another old man sees them and rescues the baby. Now the setting shifts two thousand years and one thousand kilometers to ancient Greece. The baby is delivered to king Polybus and queen Merope. They and the entire city believe that the baby was sent by the gods to become the next king. He is named Oedipus and raised by the kind and queen. One day he visits a masked sorcerer in the desert who tells him that he is destined to kill his father and to marry his mother. To avoid the tragedy, he decides to leave town. He doesn't know that the king and the queen are not his biological parents. He wanders on foot through the desert until he reaches an abandoned city, welcomed by the wild dance of old men and by a half-naked girl who stares at him silently. He continues his march and on the dusty road he meets a group of soldiers escorting an old man riding on a horse carriage. Instead of letting them go, Oedipus attacks them and kills all of them except one soldier, not knowing that the old man is his real father Laius. He then continues calmly his march through the desert. Then he meets a long line of people, stretching for kilometers. They are all leaving the city. He is taken to see the blind prophet Tiresias and he is told that the people are fleeing the Sphinx, who has appeared out of nowhere. Oedipus kills the Sphinx and people rejoice. The reward for having liberated the city is to marry the queen, Jocasta. He sleeps with her, not knowing that she is his mother. Years later, a child plays amid rotting corpses outside the walls of an abandoned city. The city is stricken by a plague. Oedipus has become the king, and the people expect his leadership. Desperate, he sends someone to ask for Apollo's advice. Apollo's verdict is that the city will be saved when Laius' murderer is punished with death or exile. Oedipus doesn't know that he is such murderer. People keep dying. There is only one person who knows who is Laius' murder, the blind and old Tiresias, and Oedipus forces him to reveal the name of the murderer. Not only does Tiresias denounce Oedipus in front of the crowd, but also insinuates that Oedipus is married to his own mother. Oedipus doesn't believe him and insults him. Oedipus' reaction to the news is to make wild love to his wife/mother, which she frigidly accepts. Later she tells him that her son was abandoned in the desert by order of her husband. Oedipus realizes that Tiresias told the truth. And that he has fulfilled the prophecy: he killed his father and married his mother. Meanwhile his adoptive father has died and the city that he left awaits him as the new king. Jocasta hangs herself. Oedipus blinds himself and leaves the palace. Now the film moves to contemporary Italy. Oedipus is a beggar playing the flute in front of a church. This is not fascist Italy, it's Italy during the economic boom of the 1960s, Pasolini's own Italy.

Il film esplora la solitudine, il mito della verità, il significato del sesso, con amore tragico e cupo, in osservanza alla composta disperazione del testo; il cambio freudiano fra antichità mitologica e modernità borghese serve da pretesto per una confessione autobiografica.

Teorema (1968) è un intermezzo che prende di mira direttamente il disfacimento della borghesia.

Un ospite misterioso porta lo scompiglio in una famiglia dell'alta borghesia milanese, e induce tutti i suoi membri ad avere rapporti sessuali con lui; quando poi se ne va la figlia finisce in manicomio, la madre va per prati e marciapiedi con i ragazzi che incontra, il padre regala la fabbrica agli operai.

Porcile (1969), tratto da una sua opera teatrale, mette a confronto con cruda ferocia un uomo primitivo dedito al cannibalismo in cima al vulcano e il rampollo di una dinastia industriale tedesca che si accoppia con i maiali; il primo viene giustiziato dalle autorità che lo gettano in pasto alle fiere, il secondo viene sbranato dai suoi maiali.

Il grottesco metaforico di Pasolini preferisce il cannibalismo naturale dell'emarginato alla degenerata promiscuità del borghse malinconico.

Medea (1969) chiude il periodo con un tema affine, nobilitato dall'eleganza figurativa e dall'atmosfera di leggenda; la strage compiuta da Medea è causata dal disadattamento sociale: Medea è cresciuta in una società primitiva e si trova succube di una fredda tecnocrazia.

Il film segna uno dei punti stilistici più alti raggiunti da Pasolini: oscilla fra muto e suggestione culturale, fra fiaba orientale e delirio onirico.

The visuals are interesting but the obnoxious and pompous reimagination of primitive rituals makes it difficult to watch this amateurish and slow film. The sections of folk life are ridiculously African-Tibetan-Arabic ethnographic, and so is the folk-psychedelic soundtrack. The desert setting and the Cappadocia cave towns lend themselves to nice cinematography but this is hardly what Greece looked like. Nor is Pisa (the setting for Greece). Several of the scenes actually look like Renaissance paintings. At least Edipo Re had action and drama. Medea has only delirious visual language.

A centaur tells a child, Jason, the lengthy story of how this child is the legitimate heir of a kingdom and how he, the centaur, protected him by raising him in that isolated region. The verbose centaur also includes philosophical discussion of primitive mythology, nature, civilization, etc, concluding that there is no god. The next scene is a lengthy ritual performed by costume-wearing people in the dilapidated cave village: a young man is taken out of the prison and hacked to pieces in front of a mute crowd. His body parts are offered in sacrifice. No words are exchanged.
Jason reaches the kingdom that should be his and challenges the usurper, king Pellas. Pellas offers him a deal: find the golden fleece and he will surrender the kingdom. Jason and his argonauts set out for Medea's primitive land. Her father Aeetes owns the golden fleece and keeps it in a chapel. Jason's gang are a bunch of bandits who attack the villagers and steal what they can. After more rituals and folk scenes, Medea begs her brother Absyrtus to help her steal the golden fleece. Medea has fallen in love with Jason and gives him the object. The women of the village find out that the golden fleece has been stolen from the chapel. Jason's gang flees the kingdom, pursued by the king's posse. Jason's convoy stops because Medea has decided to kill and dismember her brother. This is a strategy to delay her father because the old man stops to collect the body parts, and then return slowly to their primitive cave village, where the women scream relentlessly upon seeing the dead. Jason and Medea return to Jason's more civilized land and (women screaming all over) dump the golden fleece to the feet of king Pellas, telling him that he can keep it and keep his kingdom. Jason also meets the centaur again, who has now split into two centaurs, but hasn't lost the passion for convoluted philosophical speeches. Greece (actually filmd in Pisa's famous square with the citadel of Aleppo providing the walls) is a much more developed land and Medea must behave like a lady.
The film fast forwards several years in a second. Medea is now a humiliated woman: Jason parties and cheats on her with the princess Glauce. After a vision of her grandfather, Medea decides to employ the magical arts that she had abandoned and sends Glauce a fatal robe, delivered by her two little sons. When Glauce wears it and looks her herself in the mirror, she sees the robe catching fire and her own horrible death. Her father, altough sympathyzing with Medea, expels Medea from the kingdom because her presence is causing unhappiness to his daughter. Medea bids farewell to an arrogant and ungrateful Jason, and then asks her children to deliver the robe to Glauce (the film plays a second version of the events). This time Glauce commits suicide (jumping from the walls of the city), and her father does the same. Medea then calmly kills her own sons with a knife, and sets fire to her house.

La trilogia della vita affronta i tre grandi capolaovri della favolistica mondiale: Decameron, I Racconti di Canterbury, Il Fiore delle "Mille e Una Notte". In questi film Pasolini torna alle origini dell'umanità, allo stato di natura del popolo. Farseschi e scollacciati i tre tempi della trilogia scandiscono una ritrovata serenità.

Salò o le 120 Giornate di Sodoma/ Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), a loose adaptation of DeSade's novel "The 120 Days of Sodom", is a conceptual exploration of the themes of torture and sexuality but also a literary tour de force as Pasolini references Dante's "Divine Comedy" Nietzsche's "On the Genealogy of Morality", Ezra Pound's "The Cantos", and Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time". A Freud-ian nightmare, a crescendo of turpitude, a sinister fresco of sex, violence and death, the film is metaphorically set in the fascist republic of Salo, founded by Mussolini after his fall from grace.

Northern Italy has been turned into a republic occupied by fascists and German soldiers. Its capital is a quiet isolated rural town by the river. Four officials in suit and tie (the Duke, the Bishop, the Magistrate and the President) sign a book of regulations. Some kids are arrested by the fascists and taken to a villa outside town. Three soldiers enter a room where four well-dressed women are waiting. One of the women spits in the face of a soldier. The soldiers apologize but drag them into another room wher ethe four officials are waiting for them. They are their daughters. The four officials take them as wives in an apparently random order. Then the four officials inspect the girls who have also been rounded up, while other men inspect the boys. One of the boys tries to escape and is shot dead. The four officials welcome to the villa the (nine) girls who have been selected and explain the rules of the villa: every day a middle-aged prostitute (one of the four who have been hired) tells a lascivious story (accompanied by a pianist) that is meant to excite and inspire the crowd to indulge in orgies. During the collective dinner one of the men sodomizes one of the daughters who are working naked as waitresses and then one of the notables (the President) offers himself for the next sodomy while everybody else intones a folk singalong. One of the prostitutes teaches the girls how to handle a penis. One of the girls tries to escape and is killed in front of a painting of the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus. There are now only eight boys and eight girls left. The prostitute continues her story in front of the whole crowd. Then they decide to marry a boy and a girl, Sergio and Renata. The prostitute performs oral sex on the girl until she has an orgasm, and a soldier performs oral sex on a boy until the boy ejaculates. Then they are married, surrounded by naked boys and girls. The Duke frolics around kissing everybody. Then the four notables expel everybody except the young couple. Naked, they are told to kiss but, when they start having sex, the notables attack them and sodomize them. The Magistrate sodomized the Duke who is sodomizing the boy. Later the girls and boys, stripped naked, are forced to behave like dogs: walk on all fours, bark and eat from the floor. A boy who disappoints them is whipped brutally. The President's daughter is served food full of nails that make her mouth bleed. It is another prostitute's turn to tell a lascivious story. She tells the story of how she killed her own mother. The Duke rejoices because he too killed him own mother and admits that it was the greatest pleasure of his life. A girl, Renata, whose mother drowned trying to save her from the kidnappers, starts crying and begs to be killed. The Duke gets excited, orders the soldiers to strip her naked, promises to take her virginity later, and masturbates in front of everybody. Then he shits on the floor and forces the girl to eat his shit with a spoon. Later they stage a grotesque wedding dinner: the bride is one of the boy, dressed in a white bridal dress, the groom one of the notables. At the dinner the meal is shit. When the prostitute resumes her story, the Duke asks a girl to pee in his mouth. The notables inspect the buttocks of the boys and vote who has the best ones. The winner is given a special prize: immediate execution. But it is a fake execution: the pistol is not loaded. The prostitute resumes her story. In a room furnished with lots of mirrors and paintings the four notables dress like ladies. They are staging a fake wedding with the soldiers. The boys and girls are ordered to laugh but they are terrified. One of the prostitutes and the pianist prostitute improvise a skit in French and the young people finally start laughing. The mock wedding is one of the few scenes in which nobody is naked. The pianist plays the accordion and everybody watches in respectful silence. Later the Bishop is sodomized is sodomized by his "husband". Then the Bishop visits the dormitory of the boys who are asleep. One of the boys whispers to the Bishop that one of the girls hides a photograph, which is against the rules. The Bishop walks to the dormitory of the girls and wakes her up. To save herself from punishment, she betrays two girls who are having sex. The Bishop is about to shoot these two but they in turn betray someone else: one of he soldiers is having sex with a black sefvant. The notables arm themselves and shoot him dead shooting all at the same time, and then the Duke shoots the black servant. The boys and girls are assembled for being punished: every time they violated a rule, it was written in a black book. While a prostitute tells another story, the boys and girls to be punished are gathered in a room, some of them already sitting in a tub full of excrements. The Duke watches in binoculars as, out in the courtyard, the half-naked Magistrate burns the penis of a boy and then the tits of a girl. The pianist, who has been accompanying all the stories of the prostitutes, leaves the empty room and jumps from a window. We see from the Duke's binoculars as the Magistrate cuts a boy's tongue. The Magistrate, aroused, opens the pants of a soldier and touches his penis. Outside a soldier is sodomizing a girl. Then they hang her. The Magistrate cuts out the eye of a boy. The soldiers scalp a girl while she is still alive. The Bishop joins the torture outside and whips the surviving boys and girls, some of them tied to teh ground. The Duke and the Magistrate join him in ballet. This time it's the President who watches the scene in the binoculars. Two soldiers, who have been left to mount guard inside the villa, dancing to a song that is playing from the radio.

Il film è il testamento blasfemo e osceno di Pasolini (forse anche documentario maniacalmente deformato, forse anche agghiacciante profezia), dove si rivela un odio feroce, quasi sprezzante, per la vita, per il destino storico che fa vincere i torturatori (e troppo spesso si ha la sensazione di una complicità fra vittima e torturatore). Compresso in un claustrofobico interno, coinvolge centinaia di simboli della società di massa. Il potere è il male assoluto, e si esprime sul corpo attraverso il corpo.

Il dialetto cinematografico di Pasolini aveva profetizzato già da lungo tempo la morte; l'umore funereo di tutti i suoi film oscurava sistematicamete la (ambigua) tesi civile.

Dall'ascetismo di Accattone all'opulenza di Salò la sua opera sottende un'ossessiva pulsione di morte. Il massacro borghese e la vitalità sottoproletaria rappresentano due modi di morire; il Cristo pasoliniano è un mortale; il cinema poetico di Pasolini costituisce un'unica agghiacciante ode alla morte; e nel caos del panico il regista cercò disperatamente di tracciare un'etica che servisse da mito immortale per la propria vita. Il vagheggiamento terapeutico di una società arcaica si risolse nel fallimentare girone infernale di Salò.

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