Pier Paolo Pasolini
104 minutes, Italy
Optional: As part of our Summer Film School,
participate in Steven Jacobs’ 90-minute lecture on the film, at LantarenVenster.
Edipo-re is Pasolini’s version of the Greek tragedy of Sophocles in which he translates the story of King Oedipus into 20th century Italy. Unaware of his misfortune, Edipo (Franco Citi) kills his father and then marries his mother. As soon as the truth comes to light, he pokes out his eyes from frustration.
Pasolini abandons a Freudian interpretation of the piece and brings it back to the classic story. Edipo-re is full of symbolism that is so typical for his work. The film switches between 20th century Italy and the classical antiquity. The contrast of modern Italy with the pristine and light-hearted qualities of ancient Greece symbolize his aversion to consumerism that submerged Italy at the time and the glorification of the purity of an archaic society. Perhaps there is a relationship to be discovered between the fall of Edipo and the inevitable homogenization of pre-industrial Italy. The epilogue, set in Italy in the 70s, shows how Edipo is expelled from society, which affects todays viewer more than his banishment from Thebes.
Pasolini considered the film as semi-autobiographical. He said; “In Edipo Re I tell the story of my own Oedipus complex. I am the child from the prologue, his father is my father, an infantry officer, and the mother, a teacher, is my mother. I portray my own mythical life, naturally through the epic of the Oedipus legend.”