Published on February 24, 2008
Pier Paolo Pasolini: Pier Paolo Pasolini Life of Controversy "The mark which has dominated all my work is this longing for life, this sense of exclusion, which doesn't lessen but augments this love of life." Childhood: Childhood Pier Paolo Pasolini was born on March 5, 1922, in Bologna, Italy. He was the son of a soldier, Carlo Alberto, who was famous for saving Mussolini’s life, and an elementary school teacher. His family moved constantly when he was little, and Pier did not have many friends, so he used his free time to write poetry and literature. He began writing poetry at the age of seven. Early Works and Young Adulthood: Early Works and Young Adulthood In 1941, at the age of 19, Pasolini published his first book of poetry, Versi a Casarsa, which he printed at his own expense. The poems in Versi a Casarsa were written in the Friulian language which he learned from his mother. In 1942, his family took shelter in tranquil Casarsa, and he had to face the erotic disquiet he had suppressed during his adolescent years. Famously wrote: A continuous perturbation without images or words beats at my temples and obscures me". World War Two: World War Two In 1943, he was drafted into World War Two, and imprisoned by the Germans. He managed to escape by disguising himself as a peasant. He returned to Casarsa, which was suffering Allied bombardments and forced enrollments into the army by the Italian Social Republic, but he tried to remain detached from the events of war. Along with his mother, he began teaching the students who could not make it to school due to the war. Tragedy: Tragedy During this time period, Pier experienced his first homosexual love for one of his students, just when a Slovenian schoolgirl was falling in love with Pasolini On February 12, 1945, his fragile emotional state was further weakened when his brother Guido was killed in an ambush Communism: Communism In 1946, Pasolini joined the Italian Communist Party. He was expelled, however, three years later for “moral indignity.” The charge was specifically for alleged homosexuality, corruption of minors, and obscene acts in public. Following this he fell in with the local underworld of prostitutes, pimps, hustlers and thieves. This experience inspired many of his future artistic works. Success: Success 1954 - Pier left his teaching job and published his first important collection of dialectic poems La Meglio Gioventu. 1955 – Ragazzi di vita, his first novel, was published. This work achieved great success but was received negatively by Italian Government and prompted a lawsuit against Pasolini. (Though found innocent of all charges, Pier still became a victim of the Italian tabloids.) Success: Success 1957 – Pasolini collaborated to Frederico Fellini’s film Le notti di Cabiria. 1957 – His collection Le Ceneri di Gramsci earned the Viareggio Prize. (poetry prize) 1960 – He made his debut as an actor in the film Il gobbo. Accatone: Accatone 1961 – Pier directed Accatone in the slums with a non-professional cast. As with his literary debut, his film debut became the subject of much controversy: moralists held up the picture as proof of the need for stricter censorship guidelines. Overseas, the feature garnered honors at the Montreal and Karlovy Vary film festivals. More Success: More Success 1962 – His second film, Mamma Roma, won both the International Critics' Prize at the Venice Film Festival and Italy's Silver Ribbon. Too Much Success: Too Much Success Pasolini next collaborated on the 1962 anthology RoGoPaG. His segment, "La ricotta," starred Orson Welles as a filmmaker directing a movie on the life of Christ Intended as an attack against the vulgarization of spirituality, the piece was prosecuted for "publicly maligning the religion of the state" and banned Pasolini received a four-month suspended prison sentence Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo: Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo 1964 - Though an avowed atheist, Pasolini began work on Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo, another retelling of the Christ story shot in the arid foothills of southern Italy. The film turned out to be a solemn, sincere illustration of the Gospel which many touted as among the greatest Biblical adaptations ever created. The worldwide critical response was highly favorable, and in addition to a pair of awards at Venice it also won the grand prize from the International Catholic Film Office Ucellacci e Ucellini: Ucellacci e Ucellini 1966 – The comic fable Ucellacci e Ucellini was produced, featuring the comic actor Toto Teorema: Teorema 1968 – Pasolini produced Teorema, which was a dissection of a wealthy Milanese family through the slogan "make love, not war". The most talked-about of all of his films. A sexually provocative tale of a mysterious stranger whose influence leaves a bourgeois family forever altered Originally honored by the International Catholic Film Office, but their award was rescinded after the picture was denounced by the Vatican Secular authorities also charged the film with obscenity and attempted to block its distribution, but upon Pasolini's acquittal its release was allowed Salo, o le Centoventi Giomate di Sodoma: Salo, o le Centoventi Giomate di Sodoma 1975 – Salo, o le Centoventi Giomate di Sodoma, was in many respects the most disturbing of all of his films An adaptation of the de Sade novel set at the tail end of World War II, it depicted the atrocities suffered by a group of kidnapped boys and girls at the hands of their Nazi captors Deemed one of the most disquieting motion pictures ever filmed, Salo was Pasolini's final work Death: Death On November 2, 1975, Pier Paolo Pasolini was brutally murdered. His body was discovered on waste ground near seaside resort of Ostia. A week before his death, Pasolini had predicted that he would be killed, probably very soon. After bludgeoning the director to death, his killer then repeatedly drove over the corpse in Pasolini's own Alfa Romeo. A young male prostitute (Giuseppe Pelosi) was tried and convicted for the murder in 1976. He had started to investigate the Mafia's link to the prostitution business. Pasolini's huge unfinished novel, Petrolio, was published in 1992.