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A CINEMA OF POETRY: THE FILMS OF PIER PAOLO PASOLINI

Still from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Decameron, 1971, 35 mm, color, sound, 111 minutes.

PIER PAOLO PASOLINI first visited New York City in late 1966, and what he found there surprised him: In the heated context of the antiwar movement and the struggle for civil rights—which he characterized forcefully as a “civil war”—the forty-four-year-old Italian poet and filmmaker rediscovered a spirit of political and cultural renewal that he had experienced only once before, during the last months of World War II, when the Italian partisans rose up against Nazism and Fascism in what was itself largely an internecine conflict—one that had claimed his brother’s life.

In America, if only during a very brief visit, I lived many hours in the sort of climate of clandestinity, revolutionary urgency, and hope that belonged to the Europe of 1944 and 1946. In Europe now, everything is finished; in America, you get the feeling that everything is about to begin. . . . People

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