Art and Culture 

40 Years After Pasolini’s Death

In the Lost City

Richard Ingersoll 

Mamma Roma, scene of the Roman borgate

It’s difficult to reconsider Pier Paolo Pasolini without remembering his demise. On that 2 November 1975 I was living a rather nomadic existence in Urbino without radio or TV. I heard about the poet’s murder in the piazza and went to the café to read about it. People in the piazza told me that Pasolini led a risky life pursuing his erotic fantasies. And I heard an awful lot of moralizations, even from friends on the Left, including remarks that he got the death he deserved. In hindsight Pasolini’s end seems scripted, foretold in almost every film he made, from Accattone to Salò, but to my eyes then it just seemed a horrendously violent massacre no one deserved.

In Urbino only a local poet, Umberto Piersanti, and a film critic, Gualtiero de Santis, had the proper attitude: “A genius has passed, we must commemorate him.” They managed to bring some Pasolini films long out of circulation. This allowed me to catch up on his cinema, which years later I revisited with more attention (...)

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