The Decameron

Il Decameron

dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini

The Decameron

Il Decameron

dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini

The Decameron

Il Decameron

dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Pasolini's visually spectacular and juicily sacrilegious adaptation of Boccaccio's Decameron inaugurated his joyous Trilogy of Life.

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Visually spectacular and juicily sacrilegious, Pasolini's Decameron transports the work's original setting from Florence to Naples, all the better to luxuriate in sun-baked sensuality. Reflecting the director's desire to celebrate a world that is "vivid, cheerful, full of the joy of living, of making love," the film turns Boccaccio's blasphemous tales about lusty nuns, reprobate priests and thieving sacristans into a glorious celebration of fleshly pleasure. Pasolini himself narrates the film as a skull-capped artist of the people, a disciple of Giotto who presents the tales as part of a vast fresco of medieval life. "Why create a work of art when dreaming about it is so much sweeter?" he asks, and then offers us a work whose every sumptuous image turns dream and screen into one and the same. "As close to being uninhibited and joyful as anything [Pasolini has] ever done.... One of the most beautiful, turbulent and uproarious panoramas of early Renaissance life ever put on film. It is also one of the most obscene, if obscene defines something that is offensive to ordinary concepts of chastity, delicacy and decency, although I'd hardly call the film offensive to morals" (Vincent Canby, The New York Times).