We are on the set of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Pasolini lets a small camera team led by the journalist Gideon Bachmann follow him around engaging him in a long and extraordinary interview/conversation. The interview turns into a long, clear-sighted and violent attack on society that accompanies photos of the set in a surprising juxtaposition of film and reality, revealing Pasolini’s metaphorical portrait of modernity. —Giuseppe Bertolucci
Several months after the film’s extremely limited release, Pasolini himself was beaten and mutilated beyond recognition, then run over in his own Alfa Romeo. His death, and the subsequent investigation, ruled Italian headlines for months. Pasolini Prossimo Nostro represents one of the director’s last filmed interviews. Shot during production for Salò, the film finds Italian journalist Gideon Bachmann following an exuberant, gleeful Pasolini around the set. We watch as the director single-handedly shifts the interview from an examination of his own life, work, and outlook, into a vitriolic evisceration of contemporary society. During the interview, Bachmann periodically cuts to still photographs taken on the set of Salò; the striking contrast between the images and the ongoing conversation establishes a biographical sketch of Pasolini as a skillful and intuitive critic of modernity. —Nathan Southern, Rovi
Another excellent documentary on Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, Whoever Says the Truth Shall Die. The hour-long Dutch documentary appeared in 1981, six years after Pasolini’s untimely passing. Director Philo Bregstein looks backward from the point of Pasolini’s death, attempting to analyze his subject’s life, especially its end. He does this by looking closely — and, given its often-unpleasant imagery, most famously in Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, looking unflinchingly — at his body of work, cinematic and otherwise.
A documentary like this makes me feel as if the world needs these people like Pasolini to show us how beautiful is a lack of common sense. How insightful contradiction can be. How anger and violence are really the material of poetry. By the way, the story told by Bernardo Bertolucci about how he first met Pasolini is worth the entire film. That moment of doubt, of thinking that someone is a thief, a suspicious person, is at the heart of what an artist is. Listen to that part carefully and then think about how most artists now want to do something good for you. Take those artists out in the alley and shoot them. Leave only the bad guys alive. —Alessandro Cima, Candlelight Stories
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