Movies

Pier Paolo Pasolini – Teorema (1968)

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Teorema is a 1968 Italian art-house film written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and starring Terence Stamp, Laura Betti, Silvana Mangano, Massimo Girotti, and Anne Wiazemsky. It was the first time Pasolini worked primarily with professional actors. In this film, an upper-class Milanese family is introduced to, and then abandoned by, a divine force. Two prevalent motifs are the desert and the timelessness of divinity.

A mysterious figure known only as “The Visitor” appears in the lives of a typical bourgeois Italian family. His arrival is heralded at the gates of the family’s Milanese estate by an arm-flapping postman. The enigmatic stranger soon engages in sexual affairs with all members of the household: the devoutly religious maid, the sensitive son, the sexually repressed mother, the timid daughter and, finally, the tormented father. The stranger gives unstintingly of himself, asking nothing in return. He stops the passionate maid from committing suicide with a gas hose and tenderly consoles her; he befriends and sleeps with the frightened son, soothing his doubts and anxiety and endowing him with confidence; he becomes emotionally intimate with the overprotected daughter, removing her childish innocence about men; he seduces the bored and dissatisfied mother, giving her sexual joy and fulfillment; he cares for and comforts the despondent and suffering father, who has fallen ill.

Then one day the herald returns and announces that the stranger will soon leave the household, just as suddenly and mysteriously as he came. In the subsequent void of the stranger’s absence, each family member is forced to confront what was previously concealed by the trappings of bourgeois life. The maid returns to the rural village where she was born and is seen to perform miracles; ultimately, she immolates herself by having her body buried in dirt while shedding ecstatic tears of regeneration. The mother seeks sexual encounters with young men; the son leaves the family home to become an artist; the daughter sinks into a catatonic state; and the father strips himself of all material effects, handing his factory over to its workers, removing his clothes at a railway station and wandering naked into the wilderness (actually the volcanic desert slopes of Mount Etna), where he finally screams in primal rage and despair.

Categories: Movies

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