31 December 2008 | MaxBorg89
A restored classic
Pier Paolo Pasolini was always a controversial figure - as a journalist, poet, novelist or filmmaker, he was never completely satisfied unless he could upset someone. In 1963, he tried to do the most of it with La Rabbia (The Anger), a documentary that consisted of newsreel footage he would comment with a very critical voice-over, read not by him but by two of his artist friends, who would alternate between prose and poetry readings. The project was meant to be a fierce document reflecting Pasolini's personal views on politics, religion, war, the media and other important topics of the time. The it was decided that his left-wing opinions had to be accompanied by those of someone who thought the exact opposite. That someone was Giovanni Guareschi, the creator of Don Camillo, and his contribution to La Rabbia angered Pasolini to the point that he opted for shortening his segment and giving his "rival" more space, since his voice was being given less consideration anyway.
Which brings us to Pasolini's La Rabbia, the real one, available to the public thanks to the effort of Giuseppe Bertolucci, whose family was closely involved with Pasolini's film career (the more famous Bernardo Bertolucci, Giuseppe's brother, was a crew-member on the set of Accattone). With the help of the Film Archive of Bologna (Pasolini's home town), the original version of the film was restored by using the script as a guideline: the text was recorded alongside the existing soundtrack, and the supervisors of the project subsequently picked images they thought Pasolini himself could have chosen in 1963. As an extra treat, they also added unrelated footage (sketch shows and interviews) which could give a more complete idea of Pasolini's "anger".
Such an undertaking was huge to say the least, and the result is nothing short of astonishing: the film looks like it had been shot just a few years ago, and it's just as well, considering the relevance Pasolini's words still have to this day. In particular, his comments on consumerism have always been seen as a spot-on prediction, and he confirms this with his venomous statements about television, which he calls a "weapon for the spreading of lies or half-truths" and an object that leads to "the death of the soul". Such phrasing shows exactly how fearless the famous author was and provides fascinating insight of the mind of a peculiar individual, one who can even get away with comparing himself to the greatest "arrabbiato" of all time (his words), i.e. Socrates (this is shown in one of the extra interviews). Few people could say something like that with real conviction, and it's possibly the definitive proof of how much the world lost when Pasolini was brutally murdered in 1975: now more than ever, his voice is truly missed.