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Italy, 1968 (MIFF 1971, Programme 3)

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini

A two-part allegory in which eros and religion merge in an up-to-date context. Teorema employs the premise that a sudden revelation of possible human self-fulfillment can permanently mar the upper-strata of society and exalt its substrata.

A young university student is the guest at the house of a wealthy industrialist. During his brief stay, he makes love to the maid, the wife, the daughter, the industrialist and the son of the household. Members of the family, having bathed in a fleeting moment of grace, question and reject their past values, then each takes a solitary path into his or her own personal void.

Born in Bologna in 1922, Pier Paolo Pasolini began his creative career as a writer of fiction and a teacher of literature.

While teaching in Rome, his poor financial status forced him to live in the “borgata”, slum districts, which became a major source of subject matter for his writings and films.

Prior to making his debut as a director, Pasolini collaborated on scripts and conceived ideas for Federico Fellini, Mauro Bolognini and several other directors. The success of Accattone established him as a director in his own right, and subsequent work gained him recognition as a major figure in contemporary film-making.

Up until 1961, Pasolini was one of many Italian artists firmly devoted to the causes and organisation of the Communist Party. Since then however, he has become gradually estranged from their ranks.

His spiritual and political crisis after 1961, saw him swing from rationality to religious mystery and back to rationality.

Some of the films he produced during this period were Mamma Roma (1962), La Ricotta (1963) and The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964). Amongst his later notable films are Oedipus Rex and Pigsty.

The narrative, almost silent in the first half, is unusually clear for a film by Pasolini. The film author, however, leaves plenty of terrain for spectators to equate the premises of his theorem for themselves.

It is this elbow room for individual judgement that makes Theorem a captivating film for art houses and specialised film audiences.

Werb in Variety

In his soft-centred drama of sex as destroyer and healer, the once promising film-maker sedulously apes D. H. Lawrence, whom he seems to have both studied and misunderstood.


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