Pier Paolo Pasolini @ MoMA: Teorema (1968)

teoremaWhile Teorema is difficult for me to watch (talk about disrupting the bourgeois expectation of linearity), I adore its dreamy quality. Dreamy because of the unhampered Milanese bourgeois life, because of the random, misplaced, but inevitable sexual encounters which take place in different rooms, the gliding cinematography, the regal silences, and the uninhibited gentleness and sexuality of the mysterious divine figure who shatters the lives of dozens.

Film critics have interpreted Teorema variously as Pasolini’s critique of bourgeois society, as a commentary on his (and others’) sexuality, as a defiance of the Church, or as an expression of many philosophical theories he was exploring at the time. I haven’t yet made up my mind – there is undoubtedly his stamp all over this work, but what makes it compelling is still a mystery to me, much like this film. The narrative is not particularly original – a stranger shatters the fragile ecosystem of relationships in a household – but the lengths to which the characters destroy their sexual, economic, and artistic selves is powerful. That this film was released in 1968 is significant for me. To the Pasolini novices: be patient.

Teorema, dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 99 min.  Aetos Produzioni Cinematografiche et al., 1968. In Italian.