The Decameron (1971)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

Original title:  Il Decameron

Italy/France/West Germany, 1971Produzioni Europee Associate, Les Productions Artistes Associés, Artemis Film.  Screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .

Pasolini’s trilogy of life gets off to a terrific start with this spirited and funny adaptation of Boccaccio’s bawdy tales, with producer Alberto Grimaldi inspired by the success of Fellini Satyricon to put more X-rated tales of antiquity on the big screen.  The stories mostly revolve around sex and money, with men and women constantly looking to get laid regardless of the mores of social interaction, and hoping to get rich no matter what class limit they are traversing.  Naturally, plans are always thwarted and trouble follows the careless fools who populate the film’s universe: horny nuns, sexy gardeners, and lecherous priests, scoundrels who hide from returning husbands and get covered in shit, make love on rooftops to avoid nosy parents or, in one of the darker tales, protect a female sibling’s honour by committing murder.  There’s plenty of flesh, plenty of laughs and a whole lot of anarchy going on, the helplessly political Pasolini unable to just relax and have a good time but instead wisely reminding us that human desires make us all equal:  the imperative to satisfy the needs of the body trumps all the rulemaking we’ve ever tried to put in place over our lives since time began.  The series would get better with his excellent The Canterbury Tales to follow.

The Criterion Collection:  #632

Berlin Film Festival Award: Extraordinary Jury Prize

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