Accattone

dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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As important a debut as any in film history, Pier Paolo Pasolini's portrait of a scrounging thief struggling to survive in the netherworlds of Rome remains one of his most moving and powerful works.

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"Incandescent.... [Pasolini's] first and, so far, best film" (The New York Times). As important a debut as any in film history, the unforgettable Accattone "established Pasolini as a star" (John Baxter) and remains one of his most moving and powerful works. (The film's assistant director Bernardo Bertolucci claimed that the experience was like witnessing the birth of cinema.) Pasolini drew on Dante to lend tragic grandeur to his portrait of a thief attempting to survive in the netherworlds of postwar Rome. The volatile, cocky Accattone (Franco Citti) prefers his nickname, which means something like "scrounger," to the name given him at birth — Vittorio, suggesting victory — because it best reflects his existence. He pimps, thieves, and carouses with prostitutes and petty criminals, vibrantly alive in a world that is full of drunkenness and death. Though Citti burns up the screen as Accattone, Pasolini ensures that the women who surround the scrounger are also given vivid life. Pasolini exalts the outcasts, making Citti-Accattone an almost sculptural figure of surpassing beauty, and filling his soundtrack with the sacralizing music of Bach. "Aesthetically, the film is a triumph" (Time Out London).