Teorema

"OK"

Teorema Review


Teorema translates to "theorem" in Italian, and that's an apt metaphor for this ridiculously experimental film from auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Fewer than 1,000 words of dialogue are spoken during the film. That actually sounds like a lot, but the average person speaks at a rate of 280 words per minute (probably more in Italian). That translates to less than four minutes of dialogue during the film's 98-minute running time.

The rest of the film is composed of long landscape pans and abrupt moments of action -- because there's a story here, of sorts. Terence Stamp plays a nameless stranger (with four minutes of dialogue, there's no time for names) who suddenly appears on the scene of an Italian mansion, then proceeds to seduce every member of the household. He doesn't have to do much to get them in bed: A cocked eyebrow or just lazing on the lawn seems to do the trick.

First comes the maid (followed by an attempted suicide), then the son, the daughter, mom, and dad. Later, the daughter ends up catatonic, and the maid turns into a sort of Christ-like character who can levitate and cure the sick. For some reason, Pasolini would face obscenity charges for the film, though it is lacking even the briefest of nudity. Perhaps the courts were more offended that he turned a spinster housekeeper who tries to suck on a gas line into a saint.

That's a little bit of the way that I feel. Pasolini -- whose work ranges from difficult to impossible -- is defrauding us out of something in Teorema, but its spareness makes you work to figure even that fact out. I'm not afraid of a little abstraction or obtusity. Film can be an art form just like a box of Warhol Brillo pads or a slashed Fontana canvas.

Is the spare, chatter-free -- even story-free -- format of Teorema an artistic statement, or is it just a gimmick tossed off by a man who simply didn't know what to say? The truth is probably somewhere in between. It's an earnest experiment, but it's simply too obtuse to be a success, and too undercooked (not to mention sloppily put together) to make much of an impact with any but the most devoted Pasolini hanger-on.



Teorema

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 7th September 1968

Distributed by: Continental Motion Pictures

Production compaines: Euro International Film (EIA)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Visitor, as Lucia, the mother, as Paolo, the father, as Odetta, the daughter, Andrés José Cruz Soublette as Pietro, the son, as Emilia, the servant, Ninetto Davoli as Messenger, Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia as Angelino

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