Accattone was very important for me because it rarely happens that you get to witness the invention of a language: what Pasolini did was truly an invention because he had no significant experience of the cinema he could draw on. At the time, the only film he really liked was Dreyer’s Joan of Arc. It was only later that he began going to the movies more often. So, to repeat something I’ve said many times, the first day that Pasolini made a tracking shot, I had the feeling I was watching the first tracking shot in the history of film.” — Bernardo Bertolucci

Once, I asked Pier Paolo, “Which do you think is the most important of your films?” He answered, “Ninetto. Of all the films I’ve made, none is better or worse. I’m like a mother who has many children. They’re all my children. I can’t love one more than the others. I love them all the same way.” — Ninetto Davoli

Accattone — dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini


Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of The Decameron.

Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of The Decameron.

The central figure in Theorem—the Terrence Stamp character—does his authenticity represent judgment or love?
PASOLINI: This character has come out ambiguous, half-way between the angelic and the demoniac. The visitor is good-looking, and good, but there is something vulgar about him as well (since he, too, is a member of the bourgeoisie). There are no uncultured bourgeois who are not vulgar; only culture can purify. So there is this element of vulgarity in him, which he has accepted so as to descend among these bourgeois people, so he is ambiguous. On the other hand, what is authentic is the love that he arouses, because it is a love without any compromise, a love which provokes scandal, which destroys, which alters the bourgeois’ idea of themselves; what is authentic is this love, and the cause of this love is this ambiguous person.

So there is no relation with St. Matthew’s Christ, your Christ?
PASOLINI: This character cannot be identified with Christ; rather with God, God the Father (or a messenger who represents the Father). It is an Old Testament, not a New Testament visitor.

"The passion that had taken the form of a great love for literature and for life gradually stripped itself of the love for literature and turned to what it really was—a passion for life, for reality, for physical, sexual, objectual, existential reality around me. This is my first and only great love and the cinema in a way forced me to turn to it and express only it." — Pier Paolo Pasolini


"Cinema is identical to life, because each one of us has a virtual and invisible camera which follows us from when we’re born to when we die. In reality cinema is an infinite film sequence-shot. Each individual film interrupts and rearranges this infinite sequence-shot and thus creates meaning, which is what happens to us when we die. It is only at our moment of death that our life, to that point undecipherable, ambiguous, suspended, acquires a meaning. Montage thus plays the same role in cinema as death does in life."
Pier Paolo PasoliniMarch 5, 1922 — November 2, 1975

"Cinema is identical to life, because each one of us has a virtual and invisible camera which follows us from when we’re born to when we die. In reality cinema is an infinite film sequence-shot. Each individual film interrupts and rearranges this infinite sequence-shot and thus creates meaning, which is what happens to us when we die. It is only at our moment of death that our life, to that point undecipherable, ambiguous, suspended, acquires a meaning. Montage thus plays the same role in cinema as death does in life."

Pier Paolo Pasolini
March 5, 1922 — November 2, 1975

Behind the scenes of Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria.


Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of Accattone.

Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of Accattone.


"An artist, if he’s unselfish and passionate, is always a living protest. Just to open his mouth is to protest: against conformism, against what is official, public, or national, what everyone else feels comfortable with, so the moment he opens his mouth, an artist is engaged, because opening his mouth is always scandalous." — Pier Paolo Pasolini

"An artist, if he’s unselfish and passionate, is always a living protest. Just to open his mouth is to protest: against conformism, against what is official, public, or national, what everyone else feels comfortable with, so the moment he opens his mouth, an artist is engaged, because opening his mouth is always scandalous." — Pier Paolo Pasolini

Peter Bogdanovich: How about Rogopag?

Orson Welles: Can’t believe that. I was never in a picture with a name like that.

Bogdanovich: In one episode directed by Pasolini. You played a movie director.

Welles: Oh, yes… Censored, in Italy at least, after one single screening in Venice.

Bogdanovich: I didn’t think it was very good.

Welles: No? Why?

Bogdanovich: It was sort of obscure and arty—

Welles [laughs]: “Obscure and arty.” Simply because it didn’t happen on the banks of the Mississippi, it’s obscure and arty… You mustn’t be asked about anything that isn’t, you know, Judge Shit on the Range or something—

Bogdanovich [laughing]: Well, among other things wrong with it, they dubbed you into Italian.

Welles: I played it in Italian! The exhibitors must have thought the Italian public couldn’t stand my accent. They have a terrible snobbism about accents in Italy. So much so that lots of their leading actors—the girls especially—have never been heard in Italy speaking their own language in their own voices; they’re dubbed by radio actors.

Bogdanovich: I didn’t know that.

Welles: Yes. If your accent is vaguely of the north, let’s say, then everybody in the south hoots with laughter. So of course my own little touch of Kenosha would have been fatal. I read a poem in that one, and Pasolini told everyone that he’d never heard an Italian actor read Italian poetry with such simplicity and directness. He tried to get me to play a pig a couple of years ago when I was in Vienna.

Bogdanovich [laughing]: Really a pig?

Welles: A German pig. Something really obscene.

Bogdanovich: You like Pasolini?

Welles: Terribly bright and gifted. Crazy mixed-up kid, maybe—but on a very superior level. I mean Pasolini the poet, spoiled Christian, and Marxist ideologue. There’s nothing mixed up about him on a movie set. Real authority and a wonderfully free way with the machinery.

[This is Orson Welles]