Purple Television

[April 25 2020] : film

Purple Paradiso: “Teorema” By Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968. Your Movie Of The Day Curated And Reviewed By Savannah Nolan And Olivier Zahm

Purple Paradiso: “Teorema” By Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968. Your Movie Of The Day Curated And Reviewed By Savannah Nolan And Olivier Zahm

Teorema is a 1968 allegorical mystery film written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, starring Terence Stamp, Silvana Mangano, Anne Wiazemsky, and Massimo Girotti. It is Pasolini’s sixth film, and it was the first time he worked primarily with professional actors; the brilliant score is by Ennio Morricone. 


The film, sparse in dialogue, follows a mysterious, irresistibly charming stranger (the young Terence Stamp) who suddenly drops into the perfect home of an elegant Milanese bourgeois family that is led by the patriarchal father, who incarnates the modern Italian society of industrial power. The handsome stranger proceeds to methodically seduce the patriarch and his entire family, plus the cleaning lady (who incarnates the working class), one by one. As suddenly and mysteriously as he arrived, the young serial seducer departs, leaving the destroyed members of the household to make what sense they can of their lives in the void of his absence. Each member of the family experiences a personal meltdown when forced to confront their true self while escaping the ideological frame of their social condition. Pasolini uses his schematic plot to explore family dynamics and the intersection of class and sex, using sexuality as a tool for social transformation and the destruction of patriarchal power.


Unseen in modern cinema, Pasolini confronts disturbing, complex, and metaphysical questions like: Does the mind crave liberation? Or does it fear and despise it? Would insanity or suicide be the result of full knowledge of self? Can we free ourselves from the patriarchal and traditional social order without collapsing? The eroticism we see in the movie is unburdened by sexual orientation, gender, age, and monogamy. Pasolini uses the sexual revolution of the ’60s as a political but also psychological instrument to question individuality, freedom, desire, and love. In this film, the true miracle is love. Since humans cannot bear to be left without miracles, they imagine new fictions and fantasies for themselves repeatedly, like broken records. For Pasolini, the revelation of love and freedom, for each member of the family, leads to new dreams and illusions, and confronts them at the same time with such insoluble mysteries that they will destroy themselves — especially when they end up abandoned by their own illusions. This is the case of every character in this story — and is perhaps just a reflection of human nature itself. 

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