The Canterbury Tales DVD+Blu-ray
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Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced in 1971
Main Language - Italian with English subtitles
Pasolini the artist takes the role of Chaucer the artist in this bawdy and scandalous adaptation of Chaucer's tales, in which he brings into being an archaic, anarchic world in which every frame emphasizes the social position of the characters and makes plain the objects of their desires. A series of more or less grotesque vignettes explore the diverse manifestations of sex, love and death, and what the poor do to get their own back.
Officially declared obscene by the Italian courts, the film is also a catalogue of different sexual acts, including flagellation, voyeurism and sleeping with watermelons. It includes elements of eight different Chaucer tales - those of the Merchant, Friar, Cook, Miller, Wife of Bath, Reeve, Pardoner and Summoner - and ends with Pasolini's celebrated vision of hell.
Length: 107 mins
Format: DVD+Blu-ray Colour
Released: 5th December 2011
Cat No: BFIB1116
- 2 discs
- Remastered from original negatives and restored
- Alternative English-language version, presented with English-version inserts
- Original Italian trailer
- Pasolini and the Italian Genre Film (2009) – Exclusive new documentary.
by David Parkinson on 1st April 2009
Known collectively as the ‘Trilogy of Life’, Pasolini’s interpretations of The Decameron (1971), The Canterbury Tales (1972) and Arabian Nights (1974) are his attempt ... Read on
Known collectively as the ‘Trilogy of Life’, Pasolini’s interpretations of The Decameron (1971), The Canterbury Tales (1972) and Arabian Nights (1974) are his attempt to forge an artistic unity between modern cinema, medieval art and the writings of Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer and the anonymous author behind the fables of Scheherazade.
The director himself played Giotto and Chaucer in the first two films, and he drew variously on pre-Renaissance religious painting, the dystopias of Bosch and Brueghel and Islamic art to enhance their authenticity. Yet there’s no denying that Pasolini romanticised the Middle Ages in his films. However, this approach wasn’t inspired by any naive optimism that humanity could recapture a pre-industrial innocence. Instead, it reflected his long-held Marxist view (already expressed in his 1964 masterpiece The Gospel According to Matthew) that the supposed freedoms and ideologies of capitalist society were not all that different from the strictures and superstitions of more unenlightened and oppressive eras. Consequently, it’s easy to see the maker of the savagely cynical Pigsty (1969) in what many have mistaken for bawdy romps that marked a hiatus in Pasolini’s one-man assault on the bourgeoisie.
Nevertheless, what strikes many coming to the Trilogy for the first time are the graphic depictions of the human body. Pasolini was not jumping on the permissive bandwagon however. He wanted to celebrate the primitive functions and carnal desires of the flesh that had been deemed pornographic by the prudish, hypocritical forces of the ruling elite and the Catholic Church. He wanted to reclaim sex from those who had sanitised it for film and television while shamelessly exploiting it for consumerist advertising. It was this failure – made manifest by the slew of copycat softcore comedies that sought to cash in on the series’ commercial success – that prompted Pasolini to disown it, lamenting that ‘even if I wished to continue to make films like the Trilogy of Life, I would be unable to do so because I now hate the body and the sexual organs’. Indeed, it was this anger, disillusion and disgust that led him to make his most scurrilous denunciation of the Italian psyche, Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975).
by Anon on 15th November 2001
A witty if idiosyncratic take on the great GC's meisterwerk; an unrepentantly, unremittingly & unfalteringly rude slice of life from mid fifteenth century England. Tak... Read on
A witty if idiosyncratic take on the great GC's meisterwerk; an unrepentantly, unremittingly & unfalteringly rude slice of life from mid fifteenth century England. Taking the Merchant's, Miller's, Reeve's and Summoner's tales roughly complete, throwing in the Friar's best arse jokes, developing the incomplete Cook's tale into a Chaplinesque meditation on the elastic capabilities 'de l'oeuf', and spicing the mixture with some quality ribaldry from the Wife of Bath's prologue (look out for Tom Baker au naturel), PPP offers a vivid vivisection of contemporaneous Medievalio-sexuo-political "frustrationi". A sublime example of pure vertiginous dialectic, constantly threatening to dissolve the bounds of its own hebdomedaranaeity. Costumes, executed by Fanini(Girolamo jr) are as ludicrously colourful as ever.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1970
The first film in Pasolini's 'Trilogy of Life' (followed by The Canterbury Tales and Arabian Nigh...