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The Decameron

By Richard T. Jameson

A collection of bawdy tales from Boccaccio, adapted and directed by the taboo-busting Pier Paolo Pasolini--sounds irresistible, doesn't it? Pasolini approaches the material not like a literary classic to be reverently served, but rather as if the various anecdotes were episodes from scruffy, everyday life in medieval Italy, caught on the fly, like neighborhood gossip recounted in a taverna. The film is black-sheep kin to the director's amateur-theatrical take on Scripture, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964); both films abound in earthy settings framing vivid faces that might have gazed out of a Renaissance painting. Yet where Gospel was searing, The Decameron is perfunctory. Most of the stories dribble away absentmindedly before they've even begun to establish a situation, let alone any tension. Pasolini himself reappears periodically as an artist--Giotto--planning an epic cathedral painting. At the end, he's still thinking about it and wondering, "Maybe it's enough to dream a masterpiece rather than paint it." Which seems a handy copout for not really making the film we've been trying to watch.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated XNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Stars: Franco Citti, Ninetto Davoli, Pier Paolo Pasolini

Released: June 23, 1971

Availability: DVD VHS


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