Movie Review: Whoever Tells the Truth Shall Die

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Whether or not we will ever know the truth about the murder of Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1975 it is clear that it was a hate crime and even possibly politically motivated. "Whoever Tells the Truth Shall Die", a 1981 documentary by the Dutch filmmaker Philo Bregstein, tells why this is so. An examination of Pasolini's work in poetry, fiction and film reveals that he was concerned about the future of Italy. Globalization changed Italy as elsewhere from an agricultural nation with local culture into a modern nation. Pasolini wrote about the loss of local dialects, which were swept away by the power of television.
He called his films made in the last five years of his life - "Decameron", "Canterbury Tales", and "Arabian Nights" a trilogy of life. But after making them he understood that the world could not be saved by making popular film and that he was lying to himself. Sadly, he noted that the working class was being swept away by consumerism and so he shifted to people oriented films such as "The Gospel According to St Matthew" - a neorealist film shot on location with nonactors.
Bregstein's documentary presents interviews with close friends of Pasolini - actress Laura Betti, journalist Maria Antonietta Macciocchi, author Alberto Moravia and filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci. Bertolucci who knew Pasolini since he was 13 said that one of the reasons he was killed was because he had became a public scapegoat and that the people who killed him thought they had done something good for the country. Pasolini was frequently brought to trial because he was a homosexual but in effect to get him to stop his criticism of the corruption in the Italian government. His editorials in "Corriere della Serra", in particular his analysis of the "the strategy of tension" by powerful factions in Italy, were widely read and taken to heart. He wrote of cultural genocide because of consumerism in Italy and was both revered and hated for it. His last film "Salo" was an allegory of fascism as a sexual perversion and an extremely controversial film.
There were three trials to investigate his murder - in the first one the young prostitute Pelosi "in association with unknown people" was found guilty and spent nine years in prison. At the appeal the unknown people were dropped from the investigation.
Bertolucci called this a violent murder, and that Pasolini was massacred, lynched and persecuted year after year. An audio interview in 2005 with Bertolucci and the filmmaker Philo Bergstein is included where the implications of the murder investigation being dismissed are discussed. The assassination of Pier Pasolini remains today a great tragedy for Italy for he was one of their best poets. This documentary although dated was made 6 years after his death when memory and evidence was still fresh. It remains one of the best documents on the subject today.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan

More Information:
Whoever Tells the Truth Shall Die
Netherlands - 1981