Pier Paolo Pasolini, born on March 5 1922, made The Gospel According to St. Matthew which the Vatican City newspaper called the best film on Jesus Christ ever made. But he also made the controversial Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom, still banned in many countries.
Watch Pasolini’s Arabian Nights below.
Following Pasolini’s 1975 murder, the Canberra Times called him one of Italy’s most praised and controversial directors.
“Mr Pasolini, 53, was a Marxist author and director whose often controversial films ranged from the bawdy to the biblical.”
The films often included nudity and (usually) simulated sex and so sometimes pop up these days on porn tube sites. Salo became the first film by a major director banned in Australia following the introduction of ‘R’ certificates.
The Sydney Morning Herald described the film, based on the life and times of the Marquis de Sade, as a metaphor for the final days of Italy’s wartime fascist regime.
“It shows every form of sexual, sadistic and psychopathic depravity.”
Salo does require a strong stomach.
Pasolini’s original approach to filmmaking meant combining stars like Terence Stamp, opera singer Maria Callas and the legendary comedian Totò with totally inexperienced amateur actors. He also frequently cast young male sex workers he picked up on the street.
It worked. Many of his films are masterpieces. Especially the Trilogy of Life series: Boccaccio’s Decameron, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and Il fiore delle mille e una notte (Arabian Nights).
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s murder
Pier Paolo Pasolini was found dead on a beach November 2, 1975, run over by a car several times, burned and his testicles crushed.
Police charged a 17-year-old male sex worker they caught driving the director’s car with the murder. Pino Pelosi confessed to the crime but years later claimed he did so under duress following threats to harm his family.
A court convicted Pelosi of murdering Pasolini along with ‘unknown others’. The verdict satisfied no one with the murder still considered by many as unsolved. Some journalists noted Pasolini’s strident opposition to the Mafia and that his murder seemed characteristic of Mafia revenge style killings.
Pino Pelosi died in 2017 so it seems unlikely the mystery of Pasolini’s death will ever be solved.