The Decameron (1971)

R   |    |  Comedy, Drama, History

The Decameron (1971) Poster

An adaptation of nine stories from Boccaccio's "Decameron".


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9 January 2012 | tomgillespie2002
Fun bawdy romp from Pasolini
The first of what became Pier Poalo Pasolini's Trilogy of Life, with each film adapting stories from archaic literature. In this case, Giovanni Boccaccio's book of the same name, written in 14th century Italy. The film takes nine of the 100 stories from the book and weaves them into vignettes of everyday Medieval life. We see nymphomaniac nuns, grave robbing, deceit, and cuckolding. In one segment, a boy is lured into the house of a pretty girl. She tells him that he is her brother. however, after taking his clothes and money, the boy is thrown out, where he is picked up by a couple of thieves who recruit him to climb inside of a tomb and steal the recently dead archbishop's ruby ring. The boy is left trapped in the grave.

This bawdy romp is a lot of fun. This was a surprise being Pasolini. The portmanteau style storytelling works well with this roaming tour through a debauched, ancient landscape. Many of the oddball characters were non- actors (something Pasolini had used throughout his career), and some have such incredibly rickety teeth, and are a strange and uncomfortable, yet thoroughly enjoyable watch.

The film ends with a statement by Pasolini himself (he played the painter, Giotto between, and within some of the stories), which is possibly a statement about the dream like quality the narrative has in its assemblage of the parts. He says: Why create a work of art, when you can just dream about it? Indeed, why create narrative cinema, when you can manoeuvre through scenes of life and create a patchwork of living, permeated with verisimilitude.

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