Monday, March 31, 2008

Pasolini's Anti-modernity

Nothing new but very well summarised, excerpted by Girish from Making Waves: New Cinemas of the 1960s by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith:

"All his films represent a turning away from modernity into the past, from technology to nature, from the industrial west to the Third World, from the bourgeoisie to the peasantry and subproletariat, from the patriarchal to the maternal, from repression and heterosexism to the polymorphous sexuality of childhood — in short, to a world before the Fall. This prelapsarian world, of course, does not exist, but it is evoked as the negation, piece by piece, of a world which all too emphatically does exist, and which Pasolini hated. There is no coherence to the universe the films portray except in the form of this negation. And the only recoverable part of the lost world would appear to lie in sexual revolution, which might — just — restore to the modern world some sense of the freedom it had foregone. Such, at least, would appear to be the lesson of Theorem (1968) […]

How the world lost its innocence is explored in the films set in mythic prehistory (Oedipus Rex, Medea, and half of Pigsty) and in their present-day counterparts (Theorem and the modern sections of Pigsty). The so-called ‘trilogy of life’ which follows [The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, The Arabian Nights] can be seen as an enactment of how the lost innocence might be recreated. But by the time Pasolini came to the end of the trilogy he had ceased to believe even in the liberatory potential of sex. The sexual ‘revolution’ of the 1960s was no such thing but just a new form of embourgeoisement which normalized adolescent heterosexuality, while the gay movement (or what little he saw of it, which was not much) was just a way of channeling homosexuality into another bourgeois ghetto."


Kubla Khan said...

not related to this post but have you watched Lars von trier's trilogy? i mean the one with the Dogville one?
i haven't but was interested in knowing your opinion.

Alok said...

Yeah I liked it a lot when I saw it. It was very controversial when it came out. Most critics, specially American, hated and despised it. I won't say it is an objective take on American capitalism but it does highlight its predatory nature rather harshly. Definitely worth watching, specially if you are in a mood for something misanthropic. I also loved the portrayal of the typical self-satisfied and armchair intellectual. Nicole Kidman is pretty good too.