Oedipus Rex

Edipo Re

dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Filmed in the harsh, parched landscape of northern Morocco, Pasolini's Oedipus Rex recasts the ancient Greek drama about the prince who kills his father, marries his mother, and blinds himself in contrition as a psychological "family romance" that owes as much to Freud as it does to Sophocles.

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Pasolini called the dream prologue to this riveting film "one of the best things I have ever done," and he wasn't wrong. Opulent and thrillingly confessional, filmed in the harsh, parched landscape of northern Morocco and festooned with eye-filling costumes and architecture, Oedipus Rex recasts the ancient Greek drama about the prince who kills his father, marries his mother, and blinds himself in contrition as a psychological "family romance" that owes as much to Freud as it does to Sophocles. Fascinating as a self-portrait — the director acknowledged it as the most nakedly autobiographical of his films — Oedipus Rex stars Pasolini regular Franco Citti as the ill-fated princeling; Silvana Mangano, who employs her imperious beauty to terrifying effect as Oedipus' unknowing mother Jocasta; and the great Alida Valli, who all but equals Mangano as Oedipus' adoptive parent. Considered by Pasolini authorities as one of his most essential titles, Oedipus Rex is "probably Pasolini's most suggestive film.... His concept of poetic cinema finds its most comprehensive and finished expression" (Mira Liehm).