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Film Details

Directed by: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Produced: 1968

Countries & Regions: Italy

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Studio: British Film Institute

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 24 September 2007

Cat No: BFIVD741

Languages(s): Italian
Subtitles: English
Interactive Menu
Screen ratio 1:1.85

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Cast: Massimo Girotti , Terence Stamp , Anne Wiazemsky , Silvana Mangano , Ninetto Davoli , Laura Betti , Carlo de Mejo , Luigi Barbini , Adele Cambria , Andrés José Cruz Soublette

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Pier Paolo Pasolini directs and adapts this drama based on his own novel. A mysterious stranger (Terence Stamp) arrives at an Italian... Read More

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Pier Paolo Pasolini directs and adapts this drama based on his own novel. A mysterious stranger (Terence Stamp) arrives at an Italian household and manages to seduce the entire family as well as their maid (Laura Betti), thereby stripping away their comfortable bourgeois morals and identities. When he suddenly departs, his absence causes the occupants of the house begin to re-evaluate their lives.

The Italian title, Teorema, translates as ‘theorem’, or a statement whose accuracy can be demonstrated by mathematical argument. Put simply, if X happens, then Y must inevitably follow. X in this case is Terence Stamp at his most smouldering, playing an unnamed ‘guest’ who suddenly comes to stay with an outwardly successful bourgeois family (industrialist Paolo, wife Lucia, artist son Pietro, philosopher daughter Odetta) and individually seduces them all, including their maid Emilia. Exactly half-way through the film, he departs equally abruptly, whereupon the Y part begins, as we watch the fate of this quintet played out in pitiless detail after their lives have been turned upside down. Being not only working class but also of rural peasant stock, Emilia (Laura Betti) naturally fares best, but the other four find themselves exposed as helplessly reliant on a system that was already coming under attack as the film was being made (it was shot in early 1968, as the students were starting to man the barricades in real life). Each family member has his or her own specific reason for their ultimate breakdown, their stories woven by Pasolini into a complex tapestry of social, cultural, political and sexual collapse in the face of the inexplicable. If the many religious and spiritual overtones seem surprising in a film by an avowedly Marxist atheist, this is after all the man who made The Gospel According To Matthew only four years earlier. The BFI's DVD neatly balances analysis and anecdote in the form of a well-researched commentary by Pasolini expert Robert Gordon and a fascinating interview with Stamp that's often brutally candid about his experience of working with Pasolini – or rather for, as the director apparently never said a word to him on set. But in a film whose dialogue is kept to a bare minimum (and deliberately recorded in English and dubbed into Italian to create a sense of distance), that's strangely appropriate. As baffling, haunting and tantalising as the day it was first released, Teorema ranks alongside Last Year in Marienbad and Blow-Up as one of the great 1960s art-movie puzzles.

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