Following the release of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s neo-realist masterpieces, Accattone! and The Gospel According to Matthew earlier this year, The Masters of Cinema continue to add to their Pasolini collection with new high-definition transfers of two of the Italian director’s allegorical films, Hawks and Sparrows (Uccellacci e uccellini) and Pigsty (Porcile). Both are available as special DVD editions from 23 July 2012.


In Pasolini’s 1966 Italian satire, Hawks and Sparrows, veteran comic Toto and Pasolini favourite Ninetto Davoli appear as characters in two different time frames. One finds them playing father and son who encounter a collection of characters, and a talking crow, while walking the outskirts of Rome. The other, set in the 13th-century, finds them as monks tasked by St Francis of Assisi to teach hawks and sparrows to love each other. This foot-bound road movie is very much ‘of its era’, but shows Pasolini’s keen eye for the changing Italian landscape – from the ancient Tuscania acropolis in Viterbo, Lazio to the shanty towns of Rome – which become part of the fabric of the film, in which the director questions Italy’s identity in the 1960s, a period when Church and communism clashed.

Pigsty (1969) challenges what makes a political film and, along with the director’s deeply disturbing Salo (1975), contains a visual language that is pure Pasolini. As in Hawks and Sparrows, two stories play out – one set in a distant past, the other in modern Germany, but both are linked to an overall theme: that all societies end up consuming their children. The wordless historical story, set in a desolate landscape (beautifully shot around Mount Etna), follows an aimless wanderer whose cannibalistic tendencies earn him a group of followers – but the wrath of polite society. The second story concerns the son of a wealthy industrialist who revolts against his father’s ruthless capitalism and his girlfriend’s student politics in a most extreme way – he sleeps with pigs. Together these two tales become a cinematic political poem about anarchy and rebellion.

The experimental approach of these films might cause some head scratching but, thankfully, the booklets included will help you on your way – especially as they contain Pasolini’s own notes about his work. If not, you can always just sit back and enjoy the intellectual ride.

COMPLETE YOUR PASOLINI COLLECTION

ACCATTONE (1961)
Masters of Cinema release

MAMMA ROMA (1962)
Mr Bongo release
• read my review here

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (1964)
Masters of Cinema release

OEDIPUS REX (1967)
Masters of Cinema release

THEOREM (1968)
BFI release

MEDEA (1969)
BFI release

• read my review here

THE DECAMERON (1971)
BFI release

THE CANTERBURY TALES (1972)
BFI release

ARABIAN NIGHTS (1974)
BFI release

TRILOGY OF LIFE COLLECTION
Criterion Collection (coming soon)

SALO (1975)
BFI release