The Decameron (DVD)
Octet of ribald tales from Boccaccio's DECAMERON with Pasolini as Giotto providing the link between the tales. First in Pasolini's TRILOGY OF LIFE whi...
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Review of "The Decameron (DVD)"
Il Decameron (1970)►►►main menu◄◄◄
1. Play film
2. Select chapter
3. Also available: other films by the same director that are available on DVD.
4. Director’s biography
5. Weblink: www.bfi.org.uk
Italian with English subtitles.►►►running time◄◄◄
►►►chapter division◄◄◄PART I: Ciappelletto
2. Ciappelletto the Murderer
3. (i) discovers a sister
4. (ii) encounters grave-robbers
5. (iii) The tale of a veil
6. (iii) The gardener
8. Ciappelletto the Saint
PART II: The Artist
9. ‘Giotto’s best pupil’
10. Ricardo and Caterina
11. Isabetta and Lorenzo
12. Don Gianni’s mare
13. Sex, sin and the afterlife
The chapter division detailed above is the one you see in the menu if you want to select a chapter rather than watch the whole film. The division into parts represents the peripheral stories from which you get a glimpse while the other stories are taking place till you get the full picture at the end of every part. Thus, Ciappelletto’s story ends after chapter eight and after you watch what happens with Andreuccio, the gardener and Peronella among others, and the same applies to part two.My following summary (and perhaps I should include here a ***SPOILER WARNING***) is represented in a way that shows each of the 10 main anecdotes on its own.
■ 1st Anecdote:Andreuccio is sent by his father to buy horses. A beautiful young woman invites him to her house and tells him that she is his sister; she makes him stay in her house after dinner. When he feels the need to go to the privy, he is led to a pit full of excrement and falls in it, while the beautiful woman steals his money. He gets out of the pit and meats two thieves who convince him to go into a grave and steal a man’s precious ring. He does so and manages to take the ring for himself alone and gets away with it.
■ 2nd Anecdote: The veilThis story is not acted but rather narrated by an old man, and it goes like this:
The nuns in a certain convent that is famous for chastity got jealous because one beautiful nun used to invite her lover to her cell every night. They caught the couple and went to tell Mother Superior, but the latter was then in bed with a priest. She hurried with them but put on her head the priest’s drawers instead of her veil. The beautiful nun told her, so you were having fun too! Then all the nuns enjoyed themselves.■ 3rd Anecdote:
“A man in our convent!”It is the story of a young man who pretends to be a deaf and mute simpleton in order to get some money. He goes to a convent and gets a work there as a gardener. Some of the nuns at first decide to taste the forbidden pleasure with him, then all the rest do as well, thinking that he is dumb and he won’t say a thing. They have sex with him over and over again till he no longer could take it and told one of them that all this effort kills a man. When this nuns hears him speak she tells the others that this is a miracle and they decide to have him in the convent as a saint, but without tiring him so much.
■ 4th Anecdote:“Higher.. lower.. that’s the spot.”
A man comes back home early while his wife is cheating on him with another. The woman, confused, runs to meet him and tells her lover to hide inside a big urn they have at home. The husband enters accompanied by a buyer for that same urn, but the wife objects to this saying that she found someone who is willing to pay more for it and he is actually inside it to examine it before he buys. The lover gets out and tells them that he wants to have the urn cleaned first for it is very dirty. So, the woman tells her husband to get in it and clean it, giving thereby her lover the chance to have sex with her right beside the urn.■ 5th Anecdote:
“When I was a little boy I cursed my mother because of some milk.”This is the story of a very evil man who decides to have a decent death at least. At the time when he is dying, he asks some people to bring him the most pious priest around. He tells the priest that his most abominable sin was cursing his mother when he was young. The story ends with his being considered a saint after his death.
I got the notion that this evil man, Ciappelletto, could be the Devil himself, especially that he actually saw images of hell, but this is not certain; he is not considered to be so in the book.■ 6th Anecdote:
“Look at your daughter, how she caught her nightingale!”A young girl convinces her mother to let her sleep on the balcony so that she gets the chance to sleep with the man she likes. The couple meet and have sexual intercourse, then sleep nude with the girl holding the boy’s sexual organ with her hand. Her father goes to see his daughter and he discovers that scene, so he hurries to his wife and tells her to follow him to the balcony, for the girl caught her nightingale. The mother, shocked by what she sees, tries to speak but the father silences her by telling her that the boy is a catch. He awakens the couple and tells the boy that he should marry the girl at once, and the boy agrees.
I loved the girl’s smile; so innocent and so naughty at the same time.. worth a thousand words.■ 7th Anecdote:
“I wish I could take all of you out, my love.”A young man, while having sex himself, discovers that his sister is having sex with a poor man. He informs his other two brothers and they, enraged, plot against the man, but decide to defer their plans till the right moment. The girl dreams of her lover telling her that the three brothers killed him and he points to her where they buried his body. She goes out with her maid, finds the spot and finds her man’s corpse. She cuts his head, takes it home with her and puts it in her room inside a pot and covers it with soil in which basil is transplanted.
■ 8th Anecdote:“I don’t want the tail.”
A priests visits a very poor man and his beautiful wife and stays at their house. He tells them that he transforms his mare into a beautiful woman at night and sleeps with her, and during the day he makes it a mare again in order to benefit from her. When alone together, the woman tells her husband to ask the priest how he does this miracle, so that the poor man makes more money by having a mare. They go to the priest and convince him, but he tells the husband that to let this happen he should remain silent. The priest tells the wife to strip naked and be on her hands and knees, and she does so. He says, touching her head, let this be the head of a mare.. let this be the hair of a mare.. let these be the breasts of a mare, and he lifts his robe to provide the tail, but here the husband yells. So, the priest tells him that now that he talked, the miracle became impossible.■ 9th Anecdote:
“I am in mortal sin because of you.”Two friends agree that the one of them who dies first should come back to tell the other about life after death. One of these two is very pious while the other indulges in physical pleasures so much that they kill him. He comes back to tell his friend that he is being punished for his sins, but not fornication, for this is not considered a sin there. Here the pious man runs to the woman he admires and starts having sex with her.
■ 10th Anecdote: The Artist, Giotto’s best pupil“Why produce a work of art when it’s nice to just dream of it!”
A famous artist is asked to decorate the inside of a church’s wall with a painting. He imagines that what he drew became animated. He envisages heaven and hell, but the most dominant image remains to be that of Virgin Mary adorned by a serene smile.Now I can talk endlessly about the significance of this ending, but I don’t want to philosophize about it and besides the review is already long. Suffice it to say that, for me, this is not meant to be a religious ending.
►►►original text◄◄◄The Decameron is a set of one hundred novellas written in the fourteenth century by Giovanni Boccaccio. The stories are narrated by seven women and three men who escaped to avoid the danger of a plague. They agree that each one of them will tell a story to pass the time. While the frame story represents the tragic deaths of a large number of people as a result of the Black Death, the one hundred novellas tackle different issues and range from the light-hearted to the tragic. Among the topics are satirizing the hypocrisy of priests and nuns, and erotic tales that include forbidden relations, deception and cuckoldry. I read this book about three years ago and what amazed me most about it was how widespread its stories are; you will notice that you already know some of the stories from somewhere even before you hear of a book called The Decameron. That is due to the fact that many famous writers borrowed stories from this book, and these stories themselves were in turn borrowed from various sources.
►►►director◄◄◄Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922 –1975) was an Italian poet, novelist, playwright, journalist, linguist, film director, philosopher and actor. The director’s biography section on this DVD sheds more light on the artist’s turbulent life and mysterious death. Among his most famous films in addition to Il Decameron are Arabian Nights and The Canterbury Tales. His most controversial film remains to be Salò which is based on Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom.
►►►actors◄◄◄Although I recognized many of them for they appeared in other Pasolini films, I am not familiar with the Italian actors’ career, and probably, as far as I am concerned, no actor is a star when Pasolini is the director. So, the only actor I want to talk about here is Pasolini himself, for he plays the role of Allievo di Giotto, the artist, in the film. With the kind of what I like to call a mythically artistic kind of life that the director lived, perhaps it is not surprising to know that he played the role so well. He is an artist to the maximum; an artist who seems to live in a world of his own, doesn’t mind to look shabby at times, eats quickly and when the idea sparkles into his head he leaves everything to bring it into being before it flies away.
►►►what do I think?◄◄◄Pasolini, who participated in writing the script as well, chose a good range of topics, taking into consideration that some days in The Decameron, the book, are dedicated to one topic only. The same light-hearted effect in the original text is achieved here, for only one story is tragic, namely that of Isabetta and Lorenzo. As in the book, sexual adventures as a theme is dominant here too. Perhaps the ability to deceive is more highlighted in women than in men, yet these double standards are stressed in the tragic story, for we see that the sister and the brother commit the same “sin” and yet only the female is punished. In the story that tackles sex and the afterlife, when the woman complains to her lover that she sinned because of him, he replies that the same applies to him too. Other topics have to do with hypocrisy in religion; these are represented in the stories of the veil, the gardener and the mare.
►►►just a little more◄◄◄
■ Don’t expect to see good-looking, perfectly polished actors as you find in American films; here people are mainly dirty-looking with disheveled hair and blackened teeth. (There are some pretty girls, though.) Anyway, this makes the film more believable.■ The 18 certificate, they say, is due to nudity and sex scenes in the film. Well, there is nudity, but the sexual acts are usually hidden, and so the film cannot be considered erotic. As for nudity, it comes out as very natural that you hardly feel it, or at least this is what I think.
►►►a word on fashion◄◄◄What’s with the trousers that men wear in this film!
►►►price◄◄◄Amazon: £24.00 - £30.00
►►►recommended?◄◄◄Certainly. Whether you like Pasolini’s work or not, the fact remains that he is not just a director, but also an intellectual who aims at presenting significant projects through his films, and for me, he definitely succeeds.
Product Information : The Decameron (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionOctet of ribald tales from Boccaccio's DECAMERON with Pasolini as Giotto providing the link between the tales. First in Pasolini's TRILOGY OF LIFE which also includes ARABIAN NIGHTS and THE CANTERBURY TALES. Originally rated X by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Listed on Ciao since: 01/06/2005