631-634 Trilogy of Life

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Mr Sausage
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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#76 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:36 am

Revelator wrote:Thanks to Mr. Sausage and to Zaki for the extremely helpful information. I've finished the first volume of the Lyon translation of Arabian Nights and am a quarter through the second. After finishing all the volumes, Canterbury and the Decameron should be a doddle. However, I am slightly worried, since legend says that whoever reads all one thousand and one Nights will die shortly afterward...
But should I survive, I will have read three of the greatest classics of world literature and watched three classic films. I figure that's worth risking death for!
Canterbury Tales, if you're reading it in Middle English, will be the most difficult of the three to read. Worth the effort, but could well take you longer to read than you think if you're not used to reading Middle English poetry. Gets easier as you go along, tho'.

If you end up liking The Decameron (or the other two) you really, really should read Marguerite de Navarre's Heptameron, a sixteenth century French spin on Boccaccio's conceit of a group of people holed up telling stories to each other. It's just as fun and lively as Boccaccio's work, although it's unfinished (only about 70 of the projected 100 stories were completed). Lot of war between the sexes stuff, with the men and women telling stories that challenge the gender depictions of the previous stories.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#77 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:02 am

I can't remember, does the Knight's Tale start off most editions of Canterbury Tales? Because that's actually a really horrible place to start, it's really highflown and requires an incredible amount of background really to get anything from it.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#78 Post by knives » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:28 am

If I remember rightly it was the third story to the edition I read out of. I know the prologue starts off every edition and if I remember rightly it is reasonably lengthy.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#79 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:39 am

That's an odd edition you were reading then, knives, as Fragment 1 always begins with the Knight's Tale. The General Prologue even leads right into it.

If you have a familiarity with courtly Romances the Knights Tale should be pretty familiar. If not, then yeah, it might not be the best opening.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#80 Post by knives » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:48 am

I'm probably mistaken as its been nearly a decade since I last read the book and I don't even remember the contents to that story. I significantly favour The Miller's Tale which is probably why I mentally had it as the second part.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#81 Post by Sloper » Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:54 am

For someone new to Chaucer, I'd recommend starting with the first 42 lines or so of the General Prologue - and maybe read the Knight's and Squire's portraits to get a sense of what this part of the poem is like - then skip to about line 715, where the rules of the competition are set up and the narrator begins his long task of apologising to the reader...

And yes, I agree that the Knight's Tale is a bit alienating for a first-time reader, although if you have the time to study it this first 'fragment' of the collection is quite brilliant in its juxtaposition of tales and tellers. But the Miller's and Reeve's tales are quite fun and straightforward, and will give you a flavour of the whole work's tone - make sure you read the 'prologues' that serve as transitions between the tales, especially the one before the Miller's Tale. The Cook's Tale follows the Reeve's, and is unfinished; Pasolini gives it a bizarre continuation.

The first one I read was the Merchant's Tale, and it's still my favourite - about as ironic as a work of art can be without imploding.

I love my paperback Riverside Chaucer, but it did finally disintegrate into two parts a couple of years ago, after many vain attempts to tape it together. The resulting tattered mess always amuses students when I produce it in seminars. (Seminars are a scream, as you can imagine.)

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#82 Post by criterionsnob » Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:18 pm


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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#83 Post by Minkin » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:55 am

criterionsnob wrote:Blu-ray.com
Wow. Easily one of Criterion's best releases.
For anyone on the fence who had/has the BFI edition:

BFI: http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screensho ... position=1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Criterion: http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screensho ... position=3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#84 Post by BigBlackSunn » Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:04 am

I cannot wait for this release; possibly my most anticipated for this year. As most others have said, I'm planning on reading the stories in which the films are based off of. I found a Riverside version of Canterbury Tales available in my library, but I am not sure which versions of The Decameron and Arabian Nights to get. On top of that, is there a more specific guide as to which stories are told in Arabian Nights?

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#85 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:53 am

The Penguin translations of The Decameron and the 1001 Nights should serve you just fine.

You'll find some information on the previous page about what stories are taken from where.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#86 Post by nowigotworry » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:30 pm

I noticed in The Canterbury Tales (and perhaps the Decameron, but I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention to say) that it almost looks like the (Italian) audio is dubbed. Nearly always, the sounds that come out of the characters' mouths don't match up with their lips. Is there any reason for this? It's been quite distracting. Otherwise, though, I'm really enjoying the box so far.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#87 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:52 am

nowigotworry wrote:I noticed in The Canterbury Tales (and perhaps the Decameron, but I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention to say) that it almost looks like the (Italian) audio is dubbed. Nearly always, the sounds that come out of the characters' mouths don't match up with their lips. Is there any reason for this? It's been quite distracting. Otherwise, though, I'm really enjoying the box so far.
Italian films were never shot with live sound. All audio, dialogue included, was dubbed in post. That's why.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#88 Post by MichaelB » Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:11 am

Mr Sausage wrote:Italian films were never shot with live sound. All audio, dialogue included, was dubbed in post. That's why.
There are a few exceptions, but that's broadly correct. Also, if there was any chance of an international release, it was common practice to ask the actors to perform in English, on the grounds that the lip-sync would be better for audiences that are fussier about such things than Italians are.

With The Canterbury Tales, you have a mixture of English and Italian being spoken on set, so neither soundtrack is going to be a perfect match. I personally prefer the English one, if only because it's so distracting seeing familiar English actors with highly distinctive voices (Tom Baker, for instance) being dubbed - but I'm glad they offered the choice that we were denied with And the Ship Sails On, another film in a similar category.

On one of the featurettes on Arrow's new Zombie Flesh Eaters (which also offers English and Italian dubs), Ian McCulloch praises the guy who dubbed him into Italian, saying that he gave a better performance. He's not wrong.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#89 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:00 am

Yeah, "never" was a poor word choice. There are always exceptions. What can I say, it was six in the morning and I was feeling careless.

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Re: 631-634 Trilogy of Life

#90 Post by Revelator » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:29 am

I finally watched Decameron, after having read the Oxford World Classics translation (and yes, the dubbing is sometimes sloppy). For what it's worth, wikipedia has a list of the tales Pasolini adapted out of the original 100 told by Boccaccio, and it's accurate. They are:

01. Second day, fifth tale
02. Third day, first tale
03. Seventh day, second tale
04. First day, first tale
05. Sixth day, fifth tale
06. Fifth day, fourth tale
07. Fourth day, fifth tale
08. Ninth day, tenth tale
09. Seventh day, tenth tale

The film actually tells more stories than that, since Ciapelletto, subject of part four, is introduced earlier on, with his adventures serving as a framing device since Pasolini removed Boccaccio's original. Then, after we're introduced to Giotto, the film creates another framing device by showing him at work--those scenes are not in the book.
Aside from that, the adaptation is quite close and superb--Pasolini's skill with period settings and physiognomy is especially evident. One could perhaps quibble that Pasolini's versions of the tales are not quite as funny or as sad as the originals--Giotto's Pupil is deprived of his comeback against the friend who mocks him, and Lisabetta watering her basil pot with tears is almost filmed as an afterthought--but it's hard to think of anyone else who could make this material breathe as naturally.
That said, I don't think the invented material with Giotto's Pupil really works--and having Pasolini himself play the great artist in his creative throes is a little self-serving, and the metaphor for movie-making is too obvious. Nor do I understand why Pasolini didn't like the original framing device (too bourgeois I've heard), though I can see why it might have eaten up too much screentime. Nevertheless, I doubt we'll ever see a better adaptation of The Decameron. (Though I'm curious if any of the knock-off films spawned by Pasolini's version were any good.)

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The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#91 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jan 05, 2015 2:19 pm

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#92 Post by jindianajonz » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:15 pm

I still need some time to collect my thoughts about this film, but how many other people rushed off to brush their teeth after watching this?

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#93 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:22 pm

jindianajonz wrote:I still need some time to collect my thoughts about this film, but how many other people rushed off to brush their teeth after watching this?
Probably not as many as did so after watching Salo!

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#94 Post by jindianajonz » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:02 pm

So nobody has thoughts on this? I can't say I blame you. This was my least favorite film in the Trilogy of Life when I first watched them a couple years ago, and I had hoped that my eyes would be opened on a second viewing. Unfortunately, they weren't, and I'm still left unmoved by this one. Part of the problem for me is that I'm having a tough time seeing where Passolini is going with this. On the surface it seems to be a sex comedy that skewers religion, but I don't think the film is very successful (or original) in any of these respects. Whenever Passolini gets close to touching on one of these, he backs off- sex scenes are staged with not terribly attractive people (oh God those smiles!), the punchlines are telegraphed a mile off, and Passolini's observations on religion, mostly that people abuse it for their own gains, have been more convincingly plead in dozens of films prior to this. As such, it's almost (but not quite) erotic, almost (but not quite) humorous, and it almost (but doesn't quite) says something novel about religion. I don't think I walked out of this film with anything more than what I came in with. It's not a dull film, and I never found myself counting the minutes until it was over, but I don't see it as anything but a slight, if enjoyable, film.

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#95 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:29 pm

It's my favorite of the trilogy (with Arabian Nights close behind), and my favorite Pasolini, though I'm hard pressed to articulate exactly why. I just find the film incredibly fresh and there's an "innocence" that's really appealing. I'm also a sucker for anything set in the Italian Renaissance (e.g. Rossellini's Age of the Medici). Beyond the serious-yet-light-hearted tone, I love the wonderful natural settings (outdoors or the era's buildings), the delightful (non-)actors and, once again and, perhaps more than anywhere else, Pasolini's amazing capacity to capture ordinary human faces in all their aliveness.

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#96 Post by warren oates » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:04 pm

I haven't had the chance to rewatch the film yet, but I agree with Rayon Vert about the freshness, the innocence of this film. I, too, like it better than the two more visually accomplished, and yet more somber, films that follow. Like jindianajonz says the film kind of is what it seems to be on the surface -- episodic, farcical, even perhaps intentionally light -- but I suppose that's why I like it. Maybe I'll have to resort to domino's "good fluff" defense. Pasolini proved throughout his career that he could make dark, serious films better than most. I don't see anything wrong with his deliberately choosing to make something that's a little frivolous.

Jonathan Rosenbaum has written eloquently about this before, this idea that all art films from serious filmmakers have to be profound, that, you can get into a mindset where you think you aren't supposed to find simple, silly or even indulgent sensory pleasures in art house cinema. If I recall correctly, the film that specifically sparked this for him was The Vertical Ray of the Sun.

To jindianajonz: Aren't the "not terribly attractive people" of a piece with the casting in pretty much every Pasolini film? I mean you could rip into The Gospel According to Matthew for the same reason if you wanted. I thought that part of Pasolini's personal, ethical and aesthetic interest in casting non-actors, including ones with unconventional or non-traditonal looks was because he wouldn't really agree with your characterization of their attractiveness, that he found an integrity and a beauty in the faces and bodies of real people.

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#97 Post by jindianajonz » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:53 pm

I don't have a problem with Pasolini making a film that is frivolous and fluffy, but something kept it from being very fun for me. I may be reading a bit too far into it, but there was an unpleasantness to a lot of the scenes that tempered my enjoyment. Some of this was visceral, like the horribly off-putting dental hygiene, but some of it was emotional as well- watching Andreuccio flailing around in the cesspool, only to escape to further abuse, was kind of sad and pathetic even if he did end up with some valuable jewelry. And there was more than a little darkness in the episodes featuring the adulterous potter's wife and the three brothers who kill their servant. I don't mean to make a big deal of these things because the film is obviously not meant to weigh too heavily on the viewer, and I will agree that the innocence of the characters and unprofessional nature of the actors lent the film a certain charm, but these negative undertones prevented me from fully giving myself over to this film.

As for the attractiveness of the actors, I only brought it up to contrast it with a typical sex comedy. It is certainly par for the course in a Pasolini film, and the unique faces he puts on display are often among the most memorable parts of his films.

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#98 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Jan 31, 2015 6:28 am

Rayon Vert wrote:It's my favorite of the trilogy (with Arabian Nights close behind), and my favorite Pasolini, though I'm hard pressed to articulate exactly why. I just find the film incredibly fresh and there's an "innocence" that's really appealing. I'm also a sucker for anything set in the Italian Renaissance (e.g. Rossellini's Age of the Medici). Beyond the serious-yet-light-hearted tone, I love the wonderful natural settings (outdoors or the era's buildings), the delightful (non-)actors and, once again and, perhaps more than anywhere else, Pasolini's amazing capacity to capture ordinary human faces in all their aliveness.
Sorry to be pedantic (or wrong if I'm, you know, wrong), but I'm pretty sure this one is set during the mediaeval period like its source. It's been a few years, but I remember this one being set during the black death.

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#99 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:10 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: Sorry to be pedantic (or wrong if I'm, you know, wrong), but I'm pretty sure this one is set during the mediaeval period like its source. It's been a few years, but I remember this one being set during the black death.
Sorry if I'm being pedantic as well! The Decameron by Boccaccio was written in the 14th century, which is the start of the Renaissance in Italy (Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Giotto in the visual arts, who is played by Pasolini himself in the film).

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Re: The Decameron (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1971)

#100 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:29 pm

Yeah, I've always known those authors as Mediaeval (Dante especially), the fourteenth century as the Late Middle Ages, and the Renaissance beginning with the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the late fifteenth century. But the edges of these kinds of retrospective periods are always arbitrary and up for debate.

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