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.
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
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
2009 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 12/31
Whoever Tells the Truth Shall Die
Netherlands - 1981