Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. Italy/France, 1974. Les Productions Artistes Associés, Produzioni Europee Associate. Screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini, collaboration with Dacia Maraini. Cinematography by Giuseppe Ruzzolini. Produced by Alberto Grimaldi. Music by Ennio Morricone. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Danilo Donati. Film Editing by Nino Baragli, Tatiana Casini Morigi. Cannes Film Festival 1974.
Visual splendour is a plus in this gorgeous but empty and uneven film by Pier Paolo Pasolini, part of his “Trilogy Of Life” which also includes The Decameron and the bawdily fun The Canterbury Tales. Like the latter film, it is an episodic collection of vignettes, this time based on the folkloric source of the title, centered around the purchase of a slave girl by a young boy who spends the movie looking for his beloved servant after she is kidnapped by a wealthy rival. Every character takes the opportunity to tell a tale, which becomes a tale within a tale as the film progresses, each one a story about sex and love with plenty of opportunities for some racy imagery and situations. Pasolini is certainly making a film about life here: sex is an opportunity for pleasure and expression, never laden with the Catholic guilt that he feels his society ascribes to it so unnecessarily. As storytelling goes, however, his sense of pacing and narrative interest aren’t nearly as sharp as they were in some of his better works.