Monday, September 14, 2020
Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Teorema is the story of a wealthy family whose upper-class lifestyle is turned upside down when they invite a stranger into their home. The film is a study of a family from Milan who endure some serious revelations upon inviting this man into their home as they cope with their identities and their environment. Starring Terence Stamp, Laura Betti, Silvana Mangano, Massimo Girotti, Anne Wiazemsky, and Ninetto Davoli. Teorema is a majestic and surreal film from Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Set in the bourgeoisie world of Milan, the film revolves around a wealthy family who invite a mysterious visitor to their home for a brief stay as his presence would turn their world upside down. It is a film with a simple premise as it play into a family who spent much of their lives living in the bourgeoisie society as they’re not fully aware of what the world around them. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s script doesn’t feature a conventional plot, despite featuring a straightforward narrative, nor does it feature a lot of dialogue in favor of characters reacting to this mysterious and unnamed visitor (Terence Stamp). The visitor’s presence would create a reaction to this family including its maid Emilia (Laura Betti) who is suffering from depression as her encounter with the visitor has her facing many things. The visitor’s time at this home is only for the film’s first half but his impact would play a major key role in the film’s second half as it relates to the family.
Pasolini’s direction is largely straightforward in its compositions yet it does contain an element of surrealism as it relates to the world of this bourgeoisie family as it is also shot on location in and around Milan. There are some wide and medium shots of the locations as well as the home of this family yet Pasolini also uses it to convey the sense of isolation this family lives in as it is clear that their lack of interaction outside of their environment has made them too comfortable. Here in this strange visitor, the bubble that this family is living in proves to full of faults and fallacies as the visitor is someone who would inspire each member of the family in some way. The usage of the close-ups and medium shots add an intimacy to what Pasolini is conveying in how each of the family members and the maid deal with this visitor.
While much of the film’s first half is straightforward, there are elements that are surreal that would include recurring images of gray and dusty landscapes. The second half of the film is where Pasolini brings in a lot of these surreal moments as they’re more about these revelations of this family and their own individual needs and wants. Pasolini also play into the idea of spirituality as well as some of the harsh realism of the modern world since the family patriarch Paolo (Massimo Girotti) runs a factory as he is already troubled by some of the growing tension between factory workers and those in charge. By the film’s third act where Paolo and his film start to unravel in different ways, it all play into these ideas of existentialism as well as identity. Notably as it features Paolo and the recurring images of the gray landscape that he’s been thinking about as well as the lack of depth in the bubble he had lived in for many years with his family. Overall, Pasolini crafts an entrancing and eerie film about a mysterious visitor’s time at the home of a Milanese bourgeoisie family and its aftermath.
Cinematographer Giuseppe Ruzzolini does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography to capture the lush colors of the locations within the family home that is a direct contrast to the more realistic look of the locations in and outside of Milan with the opening shots of the film presented in a sepia-like filter. Editor Nino Baragli does amazing work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump-cuts for the recurring images of gray landscape that appear every now and then as well as rhythmic cuts to play into the drama. Art director Luciano Puccini does excellent work with the look of the family home with its stylish rooms that play into the personality of the characters.
Costume designers Roberto Capucci and Marcella De Marchis do fantastic work with the costumes with Capucci creating lavish and stylish clothes for the family matriarch to wear with De Marchis creating clothes for the other characters that are posh but casual. The sound work of Bernardino Fronzetti is superb for its atmosphere of the locations at the home where it’s tranquil in comparison to the noisier world of industrial-driven Milan. The film’s music by Ennio Morricone is tremendous for its mixture of lush orchestral music mixed in with elements of jazz that is driven by horns as well as a bit of rock n roll while its soundtrack features a classical piece from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The film’s incredible cast feature some notable small roles from Ninetto Davoli as the postman Angelino, Adele Cambria as a maid also named Emilia, Alfonso Gatto as a doctor, Susanna Pasolini as an old peasant, and Laura Betti as the family maid in Emilia whose encounter with the visitor has her dealing with ideas of spirituality. Andres Jose Cruz Soublette is superb as the young man Pietro who rooms with the visitor as he would later cope with his identity as well as the world he lives in. Anne Wiazemsky is fantastic as the family daughter Odetta who is a young woman of innocence as someone who cares for her father as her meeting with the visitor has her thinking about men in a sexual way as it becomes an emotional revelation for her.
Massimo Girotti is excellent as the family patriarch Paolo as a man who owns and runs a factory who becomes ill as he also copes with the world of industrialization and social turmoil as well as dreams of a land where his encounters with the visitor forces him to see things differently. Silvana Mangano is amazing as Lucia as the family matriarch whose encounter with the visitor awakens her own sexual desires as she deals with the trappings of her own surroundings where she would go into an existential journey of her own. Finally, there’s Terence Stamp in a sensational performance as the visitor as this mysterious young man who is a guest at this home where he doesn’t do much other than just read books, play with a dog, and other casual activities as he is also someone that doesn’t reveal exactly who he is as Stamp just plays it straight in an understated yet ravishing performance.
Teorema is a spectacular film from Pier Paolo Pasolini. Featuring a great cast, lush visuals, a riveting music score by Ennio Morricone, and a study of identity and lifestyle. The film is a provocative and rapturous film that explores the life of a bourgeoisie family as their world goes upside down following a strange visit from a mysterious young man as it play into the many faults of the upper-class and their disconnection with the rest of the world. In the end, Teorema is a phenomenal film from Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Pier Paolo Pasolini Films: (Accattone) – (La Rabbia) - Mamma Roma - (Location Hunting in Palestine) – (The Gospel According to Matthew) – (Love Meetings) – (The Hawks and the Sparrows) – (Oedipus Rex) – (Porcile) – (Medea (1969 film)) – (Appunti per un film sull’India) – (Notes Towards an African Orestes) – The Decameron - The Canterbury Tales - Arabian Nights - Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom
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