Pasolini @ 90

Remembering not only "Italy's major post-war intellectual," but one of the world's as well.
David Hudson
The DailyPier Paolo Pasolini
With war's end, the beautiful and spoiled Susanna and her dark-eyed fiancé [Carlo] could wed; she was thirty-one, he thirty, and she was pregnant again, seven months and showing…. Their second, but first surviving, son was born in Bologna, only fourteen weeks after the ceremony, on March 5, 1922. He was named Pier Paolo after his paternal great-uncle, a poet who had died at twenty but not without having been listed in the so-called Golden Album of the Italian nobility, a kind of Debrett's. A Roman wag who knew Pier Paolo in the sixties insists he sometimes wore shirts embroidered with a coronet on the breast, but this man is known for his extravagant tales.

From Barth David Schwartz's Pasolini Requiem (1992).

Outside Italy Pasolini is usually remembered as one of the most significant of the directors who emerged in the second wave of Italian postwar cinema in the early 1960s but, within Italy itself, Pasolini was always much more than just a distinctive and innovative filmmaker. By the time he came to make his first film, Accattone, in 1961, he had already published numerous collections of poetry, two highly-acclaimed novels, had collaborated widely in cultural-literary journals and firmly established himself as one of Italy's leading writer-intellectuals. In the 15 years that followed, before being brutally murdered in 1975 — and always inspired by what he himself called "a desperate vitality" and a "love of Reality" — he made a dozen feature films and half a dozen shorts, wrote, translated and sometimes directed theatrical works, published several further collections of poetry, two volumes of critical essays, painted some 40 canvases and, through his numerous articles in journals and his caustic columns in daily newspapers, became the loudest dissenting voice in Italian political and cultural debate. Intensely passionate and iconoclastic, often paradoxical and contradictory, Pasolini was almost certainly, as Zygmunt Baranski has written in a recent critical reappraisal, Italy's major post-war intellectual.

Gino Moliterno for Senses of Cinema in 2002.

The recurring theme dominating Pasolini's life was power. In his work, as in his personal experiences, he encountered power in all its hidden, conspiratorial and censorious forms. More than thirty legal cases were brought against him for blasphemy and obscenity arising from his films and writing. His confrontations with power kept him simultaneously at the margins and the centre of Italian public life. He was a dissident not only from the Italian mainstream but also from the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the wider left, whose orthodoxies and conventions he often contested…. "In reality Italy is a horrible place," he wrote in July 1975. "All one has to do is go abroad for a day and then return. The Italy of today has been destroyed exactly as was the Italy of 1945. Indeed the destruction is more serious, because we do not find ourselves among the ruins, however distressing, of houses and monuments, but among the ruins of values, humanistic values and what is more important popular values."

Geoff Andrews for openDemocracy in 2005.

See, too, the recently rediscovered "Lost Pasolini Interview," conducted on October 30, 1975, three days before he was murdered.

Photo via This Must Be the Place, where you'll find a collection of posters for Pasolini's films: parts 1 and 2. For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @thedailyMUBI on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.

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