Accatone (1961): Pasolini’s Stunning Directing Debut

In his directorial debut, Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini burst onto the international scene with this startling film. Creating his own style of neo-realism, imbued with a strong dose of Marxism, he eschewed the sentimentality of the post WWII Italian films (especially by Vittorio De Sica), instead opting for a more searing, gritty and gutsy portrait of the a new Italian anti-hero.

In this film, based on Pasolini’s novel “Una Vita Violente” (which translates into “One Violent Life”), Franco Citti plays the titular role of Accatone, the “Sponger” who lives off the earnings of a prostitute. After an attempt to go straight for the girl he falls in love with, he commits a robbery and is killed trying to escape from the police.

Pasolini uses classic music (mostly Bach) to counterpoint the sordid world of pimps, prostitutes and petty criminals, in this pointed jab at the upper class.

Pasolini’s next film, “Mama Roma,” starring the great Anna Magnani, was more accessible and popular in and out of Italy.

The multi-talent Pasolini (he was a poet, essayist, novelist, film critic, and theorist) was born in 1922 and is known for such diverse films as “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” (1964), “The Decameron” (1971), “The Canterbury Tales” (1972), and “”The Arabian Nights” (1974).

He died in 1975, at the prime of his career, when he became a victim of brutal homicide (chronicled in several documentaries).

Cast:

FRANCO CITTI as Vittorio Accattone

SILVANA CORSINI as Maddalena

FRANCA PASUT as Stella

PAOLO GUIDI as Ascenza

ADELE CAMBRIA as Nannina.

 

Credits

 

Produced by ALFREDO BINI

Directed and written by PIER PAOLO PASOLINI

Photography by TONINO DELLI COLLI

Music by JOHAN SEBASTIAN Bach