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1967, Compass Films, 104 min, Italy/Morocco, Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini

The first of four films that make up Pasolini’s “Mythical Cycle,” OEDIPUS REX adapts Sophocles’ Greek tragedy in startlingly literal terms. In prewar Italy, the infant Edipo is abandoned in the desert by his jealous father, at which point the film transitions to Pasolini’s breathtaking ancient Greece. Raised by adopted parents who happen to be the king and queen of Corinth, the young orphan soon leaves his comfortable refuge, attempting to outrun a prophesy that foretells that he will one day kill his father in order to marry his mother. Featuring impressive set and costume design as well as unforgettable sword fights, OEDIPUS REX is a stunning adaptation of Greek mythology.

1964, Compass, 137 min, Italy, Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Working from the perspective of “an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief,” director Pier Paolo Pasolini shot this story of the life of Christ in a documentary style that lends his spare imagery a power that few Biblical spectaculars ever attain. Employing non-professional actors (Spanish economics student Enrique Irazoqui portrayed Jesus, a role for which Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were reportedly considered) and dialogue drawn directly from Matthew’s text, the film effectively allies Jesus with the meek and poor in spirit, and his rejection of materialism was a theme Pasolini often championed. In Italian with English subtitles.

1962, Janus Films, 110 min, Italy, Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Middle-aged prostitute Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani) retires from the streets and reunites with her teenage son, who has grown up in the country. Though she does everything in her power to provide a better life for him, the boy is drawn to delinquency. Anchored by Magnani’s towering central performance, this tragic portrait of Rome’s cruel underbelly is one of Pasolini’s most moving. In Italian with English subtitles.

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