Oedipus Rex

(Edipo Re, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy, 1967)


The Australian television channel SBS showed this film under the rubric of Classic Men, and I guess you could not find a more classic guy than old Oedipus.

Pier Paolo Pasolini was a prolific poet, essayist, novelist and filmmaker. In this period, he was exploring the notion that bourgeois civilisation was based on a massive repression of primitive desire and mythical wisdom. He found the living counterpart of his fantasy in the liberated counter-cultures of the '60s – although he came subsequently to regard such liberation as itself a bourgeois efflorescence.

Beyond superimposing past and present in his retelling of Sophocles' story, Pasolini also searched for an untrained, almost barbaric way of using images and sounds – a fragmented, paratactical form in which no element ever flows smoothly from the last.

As a result, the film is compelling and murky in roughly equal parts.

MORE Pasolini: Teorema

see also: Pasolini

© Adrian Martin July 1992

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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