Research Paper: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pages: 5 (1916 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Film  ·  Buy This Paper

Pier Paolo Pasolini was considered by most to be a prominent auteur after Antonioni and Fellini. Pasolini's concept of myth was not, as most would envision, dispossessed of the preferred motifs of sex and other images, which should be predominantly interesting to postmodern susceptibilities, and have studied time and again what is fair game in the dominion of art. Applying his poetic ideas into Fellini's "Satyricon," one can gain a profound appreciation for the dynamic liquidity of cinema as well as have a different perspective on an original and gorgeous film. Fellini, like Pasolini, uses images to evoke feelings of surrealism and other world decay as seen one of his most famous films. Analysis of a few of the scenes along with comparison to Pasolini's poetic concepts depicted in "The "Cinema of Poetry" and his film, "Medea" will allow for a thorough analysis of Fellini's work.

The first minutes of the scene have a shadow amidst a wall of graffiti with images of warriors strewn about in white chalk thrusting their spears onto the heavens. As Pasolini writes in his work: "The "Cinema of Poetry," "Literary languages thus have an immediate legitimacy as instruments [pure and simple instrument], which do, in fact, serve to communicate." (Pasolini 168) In this statement he presents in the correct argument of people who assume communication amongst people is through words and not images, which for lack of a better wording, is wrong. He argues cinema would not exist if images were classified as a pure and artificial abstraction. He states meaning exists within the images just like meaning is created through writing and speaking. Cinema is and forever will be an art form, a means of expression. In the opening scene of Fellini's film, words are not needed to understand what is happening within the dialog nor how the actor feels. The music, the images, the facial gestures, they all provide clues.

As the beautiful, blonde, roman looking man (Encolpio) wears a black drape over his shoulder, and very short gold, sleeveless robe, he recounts disappointment over the events that took place (the loss of his male lover Gitone to Ascilito). A few minutes later the details of the wall become clearer. Two female figures, one woman on the left end of the wall, looks to be in a prayer position with a woman on the right of the man, showcasing an hourglass stick figure, lying superimposed over white Roman letters and black English letters. It is very much like Pasolini's concept of Semiotics. "Semiotics confronts sign systems without differentiating among them: it speaks of "systems of linguistic signs," for example, because they exist, but this does not exclude at all the theoretical possibility that there may be other systems of signs-for example, systems of gestural signs." (Pasolini 169)

There are two aspects of language going on in the opening scene. One is written with juxtaposition of both English and roman lettering. Two is the man speaking and his changing of facial expressions. His tone of voice is loud and impatient, yet his face looks troubled and worried, lamenting. As Pasolini puts it: "…spoken with a certain facial expression has one meaning, spoken with another expression it has another meaning, possibly actually it's opposite." (Pasolini 169) This can also be seen in "Medea" when Medea discovers what her lover has done. Throughout the film, the facial expressions are often switched quickly from sorrow to rage, etc.

In "Satyricon," the scene ends with Encolpio walking off and in enters another beautiful man, (Ascilito) this time dark haired, writhing his bottom as he crawls out of the shadows, with a man laid down nearby. "There are a number of indications of this search for an essentially visual language in Fellini Satyricon, not unlike the sketches on the original manuscripts of Roma that underline Fellini's similar design in the subsequent film." (Bondanella 241) He walks to Encolpio, fancifully fighting with him using a towel and laughing as Encolpio kicks him. This scene is important to note because Fellini adds his own touch on the adaptation, thus adding to its history. As Pasolini explains, "The writer's expressive process, that is, his invention, therefore adds to the historicity, that is, to the reality of the language, therefore he works on the language both as an instrumental linguistic system and as a cultural tradition." (Pasolini 169) If applied to the scene with the two men, and the quick shot of the bathhouse, Fellini is using his interpretation mixed in with traditional interpretation to present a new form of expression and language. (Bondanella, and Fellini 34) Pasolini also uses his own interpretation of "Medea" to portray the people of Medea as tribespeople, performing ancient sacrifices and rituals to appease the gods of harvest.

In the middle of the film, another noteworthy scene is the oddly sexual wrestling match between the now captured Encolpio and the glass eyed emperor Lichas (who fancies beautiful young men) for the bemusement of onlookers in the pirate ship. Fellini has people grinning, with a particular, recurring character presenting the camera with a creepy, wide-toothed grin and the laughter continuing as poor Encolpio presents no challenge to the stronger opponent. This mockery of suffering of Encolpio can be compared to Pasolini's view on the rape of film. Pasolini sees film as not just a language of poetry, but of prose narrative due to the inability to eliminate the irrationality of this form of "genre" of expression.

He views film as a twisted and coerced representation of the subconscious of man for the enjoyment of man. "In other words, all its irrational, oneiric, elementary, and barbaric elements were forced below the level of consciousness, that is, they were exploited as subconscious instruments of shock and persuasion." (Pasolini 172) The wrestling match serves to fulfill the basest of savagery for not just the onlookers inside the pirate ship, but also the viewer. At the end when Encolpio is defeated, Lichas makes out with him with the creepy grinning man whispering to the pleased wife of Lichas Trifena.

In the homosexual "wedding scene" between Lichas and Encolpio, two little men place down a large plate for the sacrifice of an animal. The whole event is jarring especially with Encolpio wearing another short little black and white frock and Lichas wearing a sheer looking orange "wedding dress." When the rice is thrown over the "groom and groom," it is like what Pasolini mentions in his essay concerning im-signs. "…as we have seen, also have other archetypes: the amplification of the spoken by gestures and by visually observed reality, with its thousands of signs which function only as signals." (Pasolini 173) The throwing of the rice is traditional in so many Greek weddings. The fact that a same sex union, (rare in ancient Greece, however, pederasty was more common-most were temporary) was frowned upon and not considered a traditional aspect of marriage, offers an im-sign because even if the union is odd and "jarring" the rice fulfills an archetype. The archetype serves to center the audience because it is an original. Such originals are overpoweringly dissimilar from those of recollection and dreams. They are, in other words, inhumanely unprejudiced, they have its place in a kind of communication with others, which is as collective as possible to everyone and is stringently function.

Although the subjective concepts of marriage seen through the character of Lichas and then objectively seen by the others on the boat through the throwing of rice and the animals sacrifice is perceived as "collective communication," it still presents a very different view of what is perceived as normal to the audience, and what is perceived as "traditional," "beautiful." The scene ends with the two men going down in the ship and everyone with smiles wishing them happiness…odd indeed. Pasolini's "Medea" is also filled with poetic traditions. In one of the scenes of the film, a young man is offered up as a ghastly human sacrifice. When his organs and blood get sprinkled over the crops in a ritual of sparagmos, the audience sees the duality of the performance as it is both savage and traditional.

The other scene from this part of the movie, has Lichas singing and an Egyptian sarcophagas stands up right next to him. Encolpio smiles as Lichas plays and he glances over to a young boy being "lightly caressed" by a solider. When Encolpio sees this, his facial expression changes, looking down. Pasolini discusses shifts through his analysis of literary language. "Literary language is also, naturally, predicted upon a double nature, but its two natures are separable; there is a language of poetry and a language of prose, so completely differentiated from each other that they are, in fact, diachronic-they follow two different histories." (Passolini 174) He means when put against Fellini's scene that the singing of Lichas is completely different to the events happening across from him. The audience can see it in Encolpio's expression. He is merry when hearing Lichas perform (poetry) and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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