Tuesday 9 January 2024

Teorema [1968]

 Teorema – a work of stunning bravado, intellect and force – remains amongst the most politically and formally radical films in Pasolini’s oeuvre. It posited, with smouldering fury and elliptic allegory, such an inflammable discourse on the existential barrenness of the bourgeoisie – a class for which he had profound disdain – that it evoked a sharp furore upon its release. While its cutting Marxist dialectics troubled conservative audience, its subversive religious subtexts enraged the Vatican to no end. And, in what can only be called unintentionally ironic, advertisements in the American market exploited its unsettling minimalism by promoting it as having only “923 spoken words.” The eerily magnetic parable was hinged around a strikingly enigmatic “visitor” (Terence Stamp) – a god or a devil or a mix of both – who comes to stay for a few days with a Milanese bourgeois family, in their decadent mansion, comprising of wealthy industrialist and paterfamilias (Massimo Girotti), his wife (Silvana Mangano), their daughter (Anne Wiazemsky, who was nudged by her then boyfriend Godard to work with Pasolini), son, and middle-aged maid (Laura Betti). All five get seduced by him – which he gladly partakes in – before departing as mysteriously as he’d arrived. Their sexual union with him take their lives towards breathtaking repercussions. While the impact is positive for the maid as she gets bestowed with miraculous abilities, it's one of devastating desolation for the family – the son becomes a manic artist (presaging, interestingly, Warhol’s “piss art” by a decade), the daughter becomes catatonic, the mother starts picking up younger men, and the father abandons literally everything. The film’s desaturated visuals and idiosyncratic soundtrack – which segued from Morricone to Mozart – complemented its feral tone and modernist palette.

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Mystery

Language: Italian

Country: Italy

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