Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Complete Artist

From childhood to death: how Pasolini's talent came to be.

Pier Paolo Pasolini

From childhood to death: how Pasolini’s talent came to be

November 2, 1975. It wasn’t at all a cold morning when Maria Teresa Lollobrigida found, in front of her barrack, a mangled body. After 15 minutes, the police arrived and identified it: the corpse was that of the famous writer and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The circumstances of his deaths were quite nebulous. The night before his body was discovered, Pasolini dined with a young man, Pino Pelosi, who was 17 years old at that time. They eventually drove off to the docks of Ostia to have sex. However, according to what Pelosi told the police, the teenager didn’t want to engage in the sexual act. The two fought and Pelosi used a wooden board to protect himself from Pasolini. As the writer fell to the ground, the young man ran over him with his own car multiple times, killing him.

Short later, Pelosi was caught by the police. He confessed to the murder and was sent to prison. In 2005 there was an unexpected turn of events: Pelosi said he wasn’t alone that night, for two other people were with them. Whether the man was telling the truth or not, I guess we’ll never know what led to that gruesome murder.

Infancy and literature

Pier Paolo Pasolini deeply influenced the Italian post-war literature and art because he was extremely talented. But who exactly is the man behind the artist?

He was born in Bologna on March 5, 1922, in Via Borgonuovo 4 — where there is now a commemorative plate in his honor. Pasolini moved a lot across the country because his father was a serviceman, but that didn’t kill his artistic spirit.

Between 1941 and 1942, he wrote and published a collection of poetry called Poesie a Casarsa, which counted 14 poems composed in Friulian dialect. Positive reviews poured in and Pasolini entered Bologna’s cultural scene, so much so he started cooperating with different magazines, including Il Setaccio.

Politically speaking, he joined the Communist Party in 1947 after moving to Friuli Venezia GiuliaThere he was arrested because of public indecency as well as corruption of a minor. This arrest ended his life in the region: first, he was expelled by the party and then by the school he was working at. Given his precarious situation, he moved to Rome.

The myth of the sottoproletariato romano

As soon as he settled down in the Eternal City, Pasolini found himself being catapulted into a completely new environment. From the peaceful countryside, he jumped right into a chaotic city. He lived in poverty for years, but he found a job as a teacher in a school in Ciampino, a comune in the Greater Rome area.

After a while, he moved again, this time to go back to the countryside. That’s when he published the novel Ragazzi di Vita, which was considered a grotesque work due to its main themes, showing the dark world known to author: underage sex-trafficking, drugs, and decay of the Roman suburbs. For Pasolini, the periphery was the reflection of society, both the past and the present one: Riccetto — the main character who helplessly watches his friend drowning, because he is no longer a ragazzo di vita, a hustler — perfectly represents this world.

The Roman suburbs, the sottoproletariato romano, however, were a little too tight for the artist. Pasolini moved again, this time to Monteverde Vecchio, 20 kilometers north of Ciampino. Around that time, his cinematic career kicked off.

Simply P.P.P.

I had to quickly outline Pasolini’s life because it was absolutely necessary to do so to understand his real self. Artists are not only made by their talent, rather they are forged by the environment they live in and the personal experiences they face. As a result of his constant moving, he had the possibility to know different locations, people and realities, and to come in touch with the sticky darkness of modern life.

According to the critics, Pier Paolo Pasolini (P.P.P.) believed that the increasingly globalized post-war economy was destroying society from its foundation, sucking empathy away from the people — just look at Riccetto’s reaction to his dying friend. Quoting the monthly magazine Rolling Stone:

As a response, however, to that sense of irremediable social degeneration, [Pasolini] had elaborated the most powerful creation of a poetic universe, which came to be in his novels, poems and films, with the intent of safeguarding the appearance of that vernacular world, prior to the economic boom, which was already dissolving. As a matter of fact, Pasolini aspired to preserve and transmit that authentic and pastoral culture, which was made of dialects and sacredness, by recovering its unique and true features.

The controvertial poet started his career as a dialect artist and ended becoming a deep observer of the people who speak these languages. Those people that he learned to love, hate and fight both politically and intellectually. Probably these were the same “grey” people who killed him that night, back in 1975.

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