Arena Puccini > 21:30


Pier Paolo Pasolini


Wednesday 26/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

After two novels set in poor Roman neighbourhoods, Ragazzi di vita (1955) and Una vita violenta (1959), Pier Paolo Pasolini began working on a third, Il Rio della Grana, but left it unfinished and preferred to continue telling stories of this world with cinema instead. He made his directorial debut with a film about an individual story (as in the second novel), but replaced the bildungsroman quality of the first two books with a narrative about the dark malaise of living of a ‘last man’, which will lead him to his tragic destiny. Vittorio, nicknamed Accattone, is a pimp, but he lacks the necessary will and cynicism. Pasolini describes Accattone’s difference from the other pimps without idealising him and keeps intact all his harsh and irreconcilable contradictions, in the glaring frame of a neighbourhood burned by the sun and as locked as a prison. Tonino Delli Colli’s cinematography faithfully followed the new director’s intentions. The high-contrast black-andwhite gives the film a gloomy quality, which is particularly apparent during the beautiful sequence of Accattone’s dream, in which he attends his own funeral and asks the undertaker to dig his grave in the sun. The character’s unconscious race to death is foreshadowed by several episodes (a dangerous dive into the Tiber, a fainting in a bar, three violent fighting scenes, a beating, the immersion of his soggy face in the sand, turning it into a death mask) and escalates into a paradoxical, transgressive secular via Crucis, emphasised by the use of sacred music (Bach’s St Matthew Passion). Since his first film, Pasolini has used both non-professional (such as newcomer Franco Citti) and professional (Adriana Asti) performers. For the voice of the lead he turned to the actor Paolo Ferrari. Accattone was supposed to be produced by Federiz, Rizzoli and Fellini’s company, but the previews were judged unsatisfactory, so the young and (then) daring Alfredo Bini took over. He organised a debate at the Venice Film Festival with important writers and then an evening against censorship (which Fellini also attended), when the ministry tried to boycott and damage the film by strategically delaying any decision on its visa.

Roberto Chiesi

I looked out to see what was happening inside the soul of an underprivileged man living on the outskirts of Rome (and I insist that he is not an exception, but rather typical of at least half of Italy). In him I recognised all the ancient ills (and all the ancient, innocent goodness of pure life). I could only document: his material and moral misery, his ferocious but useless irony, his degenerate and obsessive anxiety, his contemptuous laziness, his sensuality without ideals and, together with all this, his ancient, superstitious, pagan Catholicism. So he dreams of death and going to heaven. And thus only death can ‘secure’ his pale and confused act of redemption.

Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Vie nuove”, n. 26, 1st July 1961

Cast and Credits

Sog., Scen.: Pier Paolo Pasolini, collaborazione ai dialoghi di Sergio Citti. F.: Tonino Delli Colli. M.: Nino Baragli. Scgf.: Flavio Mogherini. Aiuto regia: Bernardo Bertolucci. Int.: Franco Citti (Vittorio Cataldi detto Accattone), Franca Pasut (Stella), Silvana Corsini (Maddalena), Paola Guidi (Ascenza), Adriana Asti (Amore), Mario Cipriani (Balilla), Roberto Scaringella (Cartagine), Silvio Citti (Sabino), Polidor (il becchino), Elsa Morante (Alina, una detenuta). Prod.: Alfredo Bini per Cino Del Duca. DCP. Bn.