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Pasolini himself plays Chaucer in this wild refashioning of the famous medieval text full to overflowing with rutting, ribaldry, and roistering.
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Pasolini plays Chaucer in this wild refashioning of the famous medieval text. All rutting, ribaldry and roistering, The Canterbury Tales was banned in Italy, despite having won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival. Though the costumes by Danilo Donati are a delight, Pasolini takes every opportunity to have his actors doff their drag and throw themselves into some gross variation on Chaucer's tales of mendacity. (As several critics have pointed out, in Pasolini's England there doesn't seem to be a window from which a bare butt does not protrude.) Kitted out with copious codpieces, copulation and scatology, the film features a scarily imperious Laura Betti as the Wife of Bath, and Hugh Griffith, madly working his overgrown eyebrows and slavering lips, as the most lascivious of merchants. The film proceeds from an Edenic celebration of sexuality to a dark (but hilarious) Boschian vision of hell, in which Satan loudly excretes a passel of priests. Made in English and shot in authentic locations, The Canterbury Tales returns to its source with heady vengeance.