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Willem Dafoe To Play Pier Paolo Pasolini In Biopic Directed By Abel Ferrara

Willem Dafoe To Play Pier Paolo Pasolini In Biopic Directed By Abel Ferrara

Announced way back at the beginning of the year, this is a bit of news we missed, forgot about and are now reminded that not only is it actually a thing, but that it’s very much moving forward. Provocateur Abel Ferrara, who is currently finishing up “Welcome To New York,” a movie based on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex scandal, is now preparing to bring the final moments in the life of one of cinema’s most daring directors to the big screen.

Ferrara is lining up “Pasolini” — yes, about Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini — a movie that will see Willem Dafoe taking on the title role. Marking the fourth film between the actor and director (following “New Rose Hotel,” “Go Go Tales” and “4:44 Last Day On Earth“), the film will track Pasolini’s last days, presumably leading up to his murder. While a young hustler was arrested at the time, evidence later pointed to still unidentified extortionists as the possible culprits. But even in his brief career, Pasolini’s work pushed the edges of religious, political and sexual depiction on the big screen thanks to works like “Salo,” “The Gospel According To St. Matthew,” “The Canterbury Tales” and more.

Cineuropa reports that funding for Ferrara’s movie has been padded by Belgium’s Wallimage who join France’s Capricci Films and Italy’s Urania Pictures as producers on the movie. Production is reported to begin this year. Here’s the official synopsis:

Counting the last days of the life of Pier Paolo Pasolini, November 2, 1975. That day, Pasolini 53 years. In Rome, just back from Sweden, he started looking for her lover, a young prostitute with whom he agrees to a meeting with other “villains” for the next evening. Pasolini finds its cocoon and friends who warn that it must stop writing his inflammatory articles against the Christian Democrats, who have already had the skin of another journalist. But Pasolini wants to denounce “the puppet government”, what it costs. 

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Too bad the movie is focusing on his last few days and tragic death, there was so much more to his life that would have been entertaining and informative.

Jan Pomerans

Was that plot synopsis written by a monkey on crack?


Great Idea, Looking forward to this!!!!

Barbara Holloway

Surely the producers didn't issue that synopsis in English? That is one of the worst pieces of translation I have ever seen – even in these days of austerity, and using Google or Bing rather than real translators.


It's kind of odd to describe a 21-year film career as "brief". Even his career as a director of features stretches from 1961 to his death in 1975.


Sounds cool, even if the synopsis is unintelligible.


sounds kind of awesome

Andre Seewood

This is a shocking and exciting announcement. A bio-film on the last days of one of the geniuses of cinema and the scathing political provocateur Pier Paolo Pasolini. Intriguing, but if Ferrera and company can't find a way to place Pasolini's last days in the broader and intense political context of early 70's Italy- I wonder if the effort will be worth it. The intense polemics between the religious right and the marxist left against Pasolini cannot be underestimated nor glossed over. From Italy's rather later legislation regarding divorce and abortion rights to the social and political upheavels during and after 1968- Pasolini's stance on these and other issues were often vehemently opposed and/or antithetical to both the right and the left. For example, he did not side with the students during the turmoils of 1968, but instead sided with the police. By contrast, as it concerned abortion he saw it as a petty-bourgeois excuse and leaned more towards the Right against it, but not with their religious rhetoric. Pasolini is a central and complex figure in Italian culture and politics that one might not be able to distill and bring to the contemporary (American) viewer who is used to a simplistic Either/Or character. However, it would be heroic of Ferrera to take a stand with this film and show how Pasolini's murder was not simply the result of a sordid sexual appetite (which made for the greatest scandal and cover story) but instead to show how this murder was really a convenient political assassination by the conjoined forces of the right and the left who hated Pasolini's guts. Of course, Pasolini egged them on with his scathing political critiques, contradictory ideological stances and commentaries, but to qoute another film about him," Whoever says truth shall die." This film has to show us why.


I hope it will be good.

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