Accattonei is easily Pasolini's least-worst film.
The substance's as follows : human males occur in two types, for excellent evolutionary biological reasons. One's a heavier set, more muscular, more endurant, oxen-like ; the other's a lighter set, faster, less endurant fox-like let's say. Throughout the history of hominid habitation on our planet, the social role of the male was rather similar to the lion's : a pride of females doing most of the average work, with a dominat male available for expensive and therefore short lived and rare bursts of exceptional output. In this landscape, the more agile, lighter version of the male's an adaptative variant, easily winning in conditions of saturation but tragically unfit for anything else.
Accattone's this later kind (a point very plainly made by the scene of loading that truck with scrap iron), and the sad truth of the matter's his kind hadn't been dominant since the Goths wiped the late Imperial legions. By the time his time to live came around, Accattone finds himself in post-war Italy, an atmosphere uniquely unfit for his strengths. Italy was rebuilding, see, and industrializing, a torn world reinventing itself. When torn worlds reinvent themselves they generally go by frequency of occurence : first, there'll be only one slot created, for the most commonly seen exemplar. Only later will there be slots available for the 2nd, or 3rd, or whatever else.
The world contemporaneous with Accattone simply has no room for him, nor has he any room in it. This is tragedy, plain and simple. Rarely do you get to see male archetypes on the silver screen, even should they find themselves in tragic circumstances, and so for this simple reason of rarity we could even go as far as to say the film's not even terrible.
It could, perhaps, have benefitted from the offices of someone who could write, but then again Pasolini's celebrated ineptitude unintentionally delivers a very authentic if plaintively naive story. We could equally say that early christian artists could have benefitted from the offices of someone who could paint, or work metals, a Greek perhaps. While this is absolutely true, nevertheless the quite endearing product of dedicated morons' widely assorted array of left feet manages to transmit something of the profound idiocy of their belief system, and well...
There's worse things to watch than this thing.
PS. The whore's daughter, an adult virgin, nevertheless knows what's going to be going on. In other words, the film's authentic, a rare enough trait in cinema.———
- 1961, by Pier Paolo Pasolini, with the simply excellent Franco Citti (he's Calo in the original Godfather, if his youthful mug's giving you that uneasy feeling you've seen him somewhere). [↩]