Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Italy/France, 1972. Les Productions Artistes Associés, Produzioni Europee Associate. Screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on the stories of Geoffrey Chaucer. Cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli. Produced by Alberto Grimaldi. Music by Ennio Morricone. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Danilo Donati. Film Editing by Nino Baragli.
Pier Paolo Pasolini adapts Chaucer to the big screen with ribald results: like the author’s near-pornographic work, this film is an immoral, perverse collection of bawdy tales that has been shocking and offending for generations. It also has a soul, with Pasolini using Chaucer’s anecdotal structure to present a world in which human bodies primarily function to fuck, shit and piss while ideas of immortal souls and higher callings are thrown by the wayside. The Italian rebel employs some impressive skills as image maker and storyteller, coaxing terrific performances out of his rich roster of actors (including Josephine Chaplin, Jenny Runacre and a hilarious Hugh Griffith) and dazzling the eye with bright photography and Danilo Donati’s beautiful costumes. For a film with a central theme but no central plot, it is surprisingly enjoyable and goes by quickly, and those who have actually read the original works (properly) will really enjoy its emotional (if not always narrative) fidelity to the source. Pasolini himself appears as the author.