Edipo re (1967)

2 03 2011

More of the same here, but also a step up from Il vangelo secondo Matteo for Pasolini. Again, an adaptation of ancient literature and again, it’s his probing verite-esque camera following a character around, and as always, there’s some sloppy ends. However, for the most part, this is one of his most accomplished films and by that I guess I mean it’s the one with the least amount of “self-indulgence” as well as the most mature. Of course, it still feels a bit amateurish at times, but that is part of Pasolini’s charm. I don’t mean this in a kitsch way, but his eagerness as a filmmaker is a strength, not a weakness.

Just as with Matteo before, Pasolini has a lot of ground to cover here in the life of Oedipus. As is the case, we get a lot of ellpises, though oddly enough they are balanced out by rather long extended sequences of just Oedipus wandering around in the desert. It’s these sequences that make Pasolini seem like a more subtle filmmaker, one whose films might not be accused of “being all over the place.” While it is a far cry from being as meticulous as something by Bela Tarr, or even Stanley Kubrick, there’s a least some hint of shots being constructed, rather than halfheartedly being pieced together. That sounds critical but again, I can’t stress enough that I actually like these elements of Pasolini’s works.

While Edipo re does look nicer than Matteo and does sort of flow in a way that not even my favorite Pasolini film (Mamma Roma, still) can, there are some problems. I get that Pasolini liked Franco Citti a lot, but he really hams it up here. Perhaps this was intentional, a decision made by either the filmmaker or the actor to underscore the whole “tragedy” element by making him lose his mind from time to time. It actually works in the film’s finale when Oedipus blinds himself, but that’s because it’s a really personal, but awkward and heartbreaking moment.

One of the most notable improvements from Matteo is Pasolini’s use of music, which is especially effective in the film’s final “modern” sequence. Where as Matteo was driven by Bach into a forced sense of “seriousness” the simple flute music here works very nicely and is a superior compliment to the more poetic, voiceover scenes. It’s a little difficult to avoid comparing this to Matteo, especially since Pasolini did make a film in-between them, but they are both trying to accomplish the same sort of tone and vibe. This is a little bit more successful in my opinion, though there’s things to like (and dislike) about both. Oh, and there’s color.

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One response

5 03 2011
bengpod

this film brought to mind some of the more surreal moments of “Boys on the Bus”, the story of the 1987 Edmonton Oilers

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