Saturday, March 10, 2012

Assembly of Love

Comizi d'amore; documentary, Italy, 1964; D: Pier Paolo Pasolini, S: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Io Apolloni, Ignazio Buttitta, Adele Cambria, Camilla Cederna

With a microphone in his hand, Pier Paolo Pasolini tours Italy in order to interview ordinary people about sexuality. He asks children from where babies come from and mostly gets the typical answer: from storks. He asks teenagers about gender equality and adults about gay people, divorce and prostitution, receiving answers ranging from tolerant to intolerant. Evidently, he also asks poets and intellectuals about the same topic, and receives far more sophisticated observations.

This elegant and humorous little documentary by Pier Paolo Pasolini is still rather fresh thanks to its tricky concept: even today it is amusing to watch how people of Italy thought and talked about sexuality in 1963. Similarly like Jiddu Krishnamurti, Pasolini talks "childishly" with children and "like an adult" with adults, receiving interesting answers ranging from moronic up to sophisticated ones - in one entirely unexpected example of insight, one woman gives a whole rant about "liberal proletariat" and "hypocritical small bourgeoisie" when it comes to sex, even adding how to "poor peasants marriage with a woman is the only way to wealth", and thus such wealth is the "reason to stay in marriage". If you ever thought that the 60s where the "good old days" when people were more polite and "tame", just watch out for the scene in a village where a middle aged woman laments how "kids of today are impossible" and that "the previous generation was more tasteful", which results in an amusing clash with her daughter who thinks that her generation is "just right". A fair share of primitive interviewees was almost too crude (which is why some parts of the film were even self-censored) when it comes to gay people or sexual tolerance, yet they might have just as well influenced Pasolini's later style in which he often insisted on showing both sides of Italy, the intelligent but also the primitive circles, who also constitute its society. Towards the end the movie starts to drag, yet as a whole it is a neat document of opinions that otherwise would have remained unknown.


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