Review – TEOREMA (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968, Italy)


TEOREMA || 1968, Italy || Drama || Directed by – Pier Paolo Pasolini / Written by – Pier Paolo Pasolini / Produced by – Manolo Bolognini, Franco Rossellini / Music by – Ennio Morricone / Cinematography by – Giuseppe Ruzzolini / Editing by – Nino Baragli / Production design – Luciano Puccini / Starring – Silvana Mangano, Terence Stamp, Massimo Girotti, Anne Wiazemsky, Laura Betti, Andrés José Cruz Soublette, Ninetto Davoli / Running time: 105 mins.


“Teorema” by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1968, Italy)

Teorema is certainly one of the highest cinematic achievements of Pier Paolo Pasolini, and one that despite following a rather traditional narrative arch, deals with countless themes that seem to wholeheartedly embrace the physical, the spiritual, the mythical, the sexual and the political. Likewise, one can argue that despite it being rooted at the present time in which the film was shot, and purposefully taking place within the four walls of an upper class mansion of a wealthy Milanese family, its is relevant in a timeless and universal way.

Its story revolves around the way in which said family, father, mother, daughter and even the maid, is affected by the presence of a mysterious guest, a young man who a times feels like a divine spirit without necessarily being one in the strictest of forms. It is divided into three parts, entitled “seductions”, “confessions” and “transformations”, a categorization which further emphasises the stages of the development and evolution of the three characters. This is a choice that supports the theory of Pasolini turning the cinematic art into an excercise in phylosoply, or theology, and in turn the narrative itself is a starting point for the development of viewpoint that is equally as open to interpretations, subjectivity and objectivity.

The slow pacing of the film allows the viewer to truly sink in with the film and helps said viewer to engage with Teorema not only on a superficial level, the narrative, but also on a spiritial and ethical level, through its themes.

Given its richness, it is almost absurd to think that when it was released, the film was mostly deemed controversial only on the grounds of its sexual ambiguity, a very outdated and irrelevant reading for today’s standards. Teorema was also the first time that Pasolini worked with a cast mostly made of professional actors, and featured Terence Stamp as the pivotal figure of the young man who so heavily marks the lives of his hosts.

The photography is mostly firmly made of composed shots with the camera firmly planted on the tripod, and with subtle finesse allows attention to imagery and visual allegories that are equally as intriguing and full of meaning and purpose, such as the famous crotch shot of the young man reading a book on architecture whilst sitting in the garden. – 5/5


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