When Ferrara meets Pasolini
by Camillo de Marco
- VENICE 2014: The New York director reconstructs the last days of the great Italian poet and filmmaker
There was timid applause after the press and industry screening of Pasolini [+see also:
interview: Abel Ferrara
film profile] by Abel Ferrara, in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Fresh from the controversy he stirred up at Cannes with his inconsistent Welcome to New York [+see also:
film profile], the cult director has now turned his focus on the last days in the life of the great Friulian poet, author and filmmaker, up until his murder on the night of the 1-2 November 1975.
Filling the shoes of Pier Paolo Pasolini is Willem Dafoe, who has already worked with the director in New Rose Hotel, Go Go Tales and 4:44 Last Day on Earth [+see also:
film profile]. Joining the US actor are Ninetto Davoli, Riccardo Scamarcio in the role of a young Ninetto Davoli, Valerio Mastandrea playing the cousin and biographer Nico Naldini, Maria de Medeiros as Laura Betti, Giada Colagrande as the poet’s cousin, Graziella Chiarcossi, and Adriana Asti as Pasolini’s mother, who affectionately used to call her son “Pieruti”.
The film, a Franco-Belgian-Italian co-production, opens with images from Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, which Pasolini was editing at the time. In response to a question posed by the French television journalist who is interviewing him, Pasolini says that sex is political, outraging people is a right and being outraged is a delight. He writes a letter to his friend Alberto Moravia describing the epic book that he has been working on for years, Petrolio, as a comprehensive work covering all his experiences and memories, in a fresco of today’s crumbling society and of the “influential powers that be” that direct it from behind the scenes. The mood during those years was marked by a red-hot tension, with political murder after political murder. Pasolini suggests an interview title to the journalist, Furio Colombo: “We are all in danger”, denouncing consumerism as the new ideology of those in power, which has brought Italian people’s customs into alignment with each other, making the fundamental genuineness of the rural and working-class world disappear.
At the same time, Pasolini is preparing his next film, Porno-Teo-Kolossal, a fable written by Totò, which was supposed to star Eduardo De Filippo. It is around this project that screenwriter Maurizio Braucci and Abel Ferrara build up the very core of the film, revealing to us the dreamlike and visionary story that Pasolini was working on. Brimming with arrogance, they film a kind of Pasolini-esque film within this Ferrara-like one. The ending, which takes place during that hellish night at the Ostia seaplane base, where the poet had ensconced himself with the young Pino Pelosi, is cautious and respectful of an event that has never been properly explained. Pasolini was beaten to death and crushed by his own Alfa Romeo, and many people believe it was an ambush set up by the enemies of an overly troublesome intellectual.
The dubbed version of Pasolini will reach Italian screens on 25 September, courtesy of Europictures.
(Translated from Italian)