Italian cinema made a major contribution to the history of the medium with the development of Neo- Realism, a movement interested in the depiction of ordinary workers’ lives, often enacted by non- professional actors. Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) was a contemporary and friend of the neorealist brigadiers, and shared most of their concerns, but in the film we have selected for our season, Teorema (1968), this lone knight’s career was to go in a completely different –if just as radical– direction.
Teorema (1968) deals with the empty lives of posh-b##stards and holy-Marys. And yet, Teorema was not made to denounce their inhumanity, or to laugh at their hypocrisy, but to awaken their flesh to the need for connection, and to make them understand that all the hungers of the world come from it. Four years before Teorema,
Passolini had directed The Gospel According to Saint Mathew, a surprisingly respectful take on that chap from Nazareth who dared to live differently – his plain story was radical enough (Passolini cast his own mother as the mother of Christ). Inspired by the progressive programme of Pope John XXIII, whom he admired, Passolini had already made a short film about Christ in 1963, La Ricotta, which had landed him a prison sentence for obscenity. Despite that, Passolini was undeterred, determined to share again the good news: All flesh is holy.