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Alistair Fox
A "Sacral Vision": The Influence of Renaissance Painters on the Film Aesthetic of Pier Paolo Pasolini

Since the earliest days of cinema, a symbiotic relationship has existed between painting and fiction films, given that both depend upon similar expressive procedures: the creation of a visual image within a frame, selection and composition of objects included, and the generation of a perspective for the viewer. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that a reciprocal exchange between the two media has always existed, usually taking one or both of two forms: citation and stylistic imitation.

This seminar will explore how these two types of pictural imitation are exploited in the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini, one of the most admired masters of twentieth-century cinema – a filmmaker, poet, and intellectual who was also a student of art history as well as a painter in his own right. The presentation will demonstrate how Pasolini, who had a particular predilection for the artists of the Italian Renaissance, deployed citation for satirical purposes in the service of a radical socio-political agenda, and how he used stylistic imitation to convey a sense of the sacredness of a primitive human reality that he opposed to the vulgarity and complacency of the contemporary bourgeoisie.

Using illustrations and film clips, the discussion will examine Accattone, Mamma Roma, La Ricotta, The Gospel According to Matthew, and The Decameron, showing the influence of painters that include Caravaggio, Jacopo da Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Masaccio, Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Mantegna, and Goya, with the aim of demonstrating the commonality of the aesthetic principles that inform both media, and also the ongoing usefulness of paintings as a source of inspiration for the mise-en-scène of filmmakers.

Published on 25 Jul 2021

Orderdate: 25 Jul 2021
Expiry: 30 Jul 2021