A handsome stranger (Terence Stamp) seduces then abandons the maid and family members of a bourgeois Milanese household. In doing so, he transforms the vacuous nature of their existence: the mother (Silvana Mangano) gives herself over to random sexual encounters, the father strips himself of his wealth and property, the son follows his artistic pursuits and the daughter becomes catatonic. The maid (Laura Betti), however, becomes a saint who can perform miracles.
This is a fascinating and provocative film from Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who mines his own struggles with faith, politics, bourgeois values and homosexuality to create a visually ravishing, richly symbolic satire. The Golden Lion-winning film was a hit on its release, thanks in part to the film being branded obscene by the Vatican, but mostly because Pasolini perfectly captured the spirit of 1960s rebellion in Terence Stamp’s androgynous, pan-sexual, Christ-like stranger. This is existential anguish, Pasolini-style, where the gay Catholic communist filmmaker lets it all hang out with great aplomb.
Released on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, in a Dual Format edition (which includes a DVD disc), the BFI presents Theorem
Theorem was actually written after Pasolini had completed shooting the film’s individual scenes.