Sunday, 23 November 2008

Pasolini's "Canterbury Tales"

It must be something like 20 years ago that I originally took in Pasolini's Canterbury Tales at the Empire Cinema in Surry Hills. I walked out of the film absolutely stunned and reinvigorated at the possibilities of pure cinema. A few years after that I took in Salo as part of Sydney's Mardi Gras, which also made an indelible impression. So many memories; I wasn't sure I'd ever see this again, particularly the sequence in this clip that totally blew me away. Before you ask ahuthnance, no, it is not the commercial that would have screened had John Howard defeated Kevin Rudd in the election, but in a way it's not unrelated. As a dedicated communist, Pasolini was fascinated by feudalism, and his work should be seen as consonant with that of later critical theorists warning of a "back to the future" scenario, in which we find ourselves living in a new [sic] Middle Ages. For example:
The Middle Ages ended when the rise of capitalism on a national scale led to powerful states with sovereignty over particular territories and populations. Now that capitalism is operating globally, those states are eroding and a new medievalism is emerging, marked by multiple and overlapping sovereignties and identities -- particularly in the developing world, where states were never strong in the first place.
Having digested these thoughts, watch the clip, then immediately rewatch it just to be sure of what you have witnessed....

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