Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
The dramatic and scandalous life of the variously renowned and reviled poet, screenwriter and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) is reportedly poorly served in this highly allegorical and intellectual film which focuses rather more on his poetic and intellectual contributions to Italian Marxism than anyone except a highly intellectual Italian Marxist could possibly want to know. This is hardly surprising, given that the neophyte director of this film has a day job as an assistant professor of "the sociology of conscience." Pasolini, who at one point was convicted of the crime of "offending the religion of the (Italian) state" (Catholicism), later received the Grand Prize from the Catholic Film Office for his straightforward and stunning film of Il Vangelo Secundo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew). The controversial director did not retain this official esteem for long, and his notorious and occasionally criminal personal life found its most powerful reflection in his last film, the thoroughly shocking Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma, a study of human degeneracy set in the Nazi era.