-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
cast: Pierre Clementi, Jean Pierre Leaud, Alberto Lionello, Ugo Tognazzi, and Anne Wiazcmsky
director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
94 minutes (15) 1970
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Tartan DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Paul Higson
Pasolini's Pigsty (aka: Porcile) skips between two settings, the bourgeois
modern and the volcanic hillocks of the conquistador age. Pasolini's cold eye on the hot
earth, revels in the barren rises where little grows and little walks or crawls, and where
trapped travellers resort to cannibalism to survive. A lively representative mix of the
wealthy do-littles populates the modern. There are the young who are idealistic or apathetic.
The elders meanwhile luxuriate and revel in their despicable collaborative role in the recent
war. The film bristles with humour, dark, confused and confusing. The young are acutely
The volcanic then is a simplistic tale following one man (Pierre Clementi) scrabbling in
the scree, snatching at rare spots of sprouting green blades of grass. He discovers skeletons
picked clean and interprets it as permission for cannibalism. He will later battle with another
lone soldier, kill him and make a meal of him. He encamps with other survivors and the four
men and four women feed on passing travellers. They slay and decapitate a passing woman and
make a gift of the head to a fiery opening in the ground. The woman's husband, who had allowed
her to ride onwards on horseback while he urinated, witnesses the terrible incident. He returns
to civilisation and calls on the authorities, the church and the army, to act, bringing to
justice the wasteland cannibals.
'Meanwhile', in the 1960s the younger generation is bi-polar, taut at two extremes, apathy
and proactivity. "Julian we are two rich bourgeois. We are here to analyse ourselves
because it is our privilege." Julian Klotz (played by Jean-Pierre Leaud), is one of the
idle rich, and his viewed transgression is to rebel against any notions of rebellion. He is
uncaring and self-destructive. "My best quality is remaining inalienable," he tells
the beautiful younger Ida (he is 25, she is 17). "I discovered that even as a revolutionary
I was a conformist," he tells, but also understanding, "The fifty percent conformist
parts of me are suspended and my fifty revolutionary parts are suspended." Ida (played by
Anne Wiazemsky) wants to imbue him with her romance for change, thereupon invoking a romance
with the young man. She thinks she may have convinced him to join her in her emotive journey
to Berlin where she and 10,000 youths are going to piss on the Berlin Wall. The "first and
only German march for peace," he mocks. He momentarily agrees to accompany her but reneges
on the offer. In her absence, Julian's indifference results in him falling into a comatose state,
stunned, immobile, stricken to his bed, his embarrassed father making excuses before visitors,
explaining that he is just "extremely sleepy... everyone sleeps and rests."
The older generation all appear to be hiding wartime secrets, collaborators and participants
allowed to smile away their prior crimes and involvement. They spar mentally with a pretence
to sides but all are fat of the same skank animal, morally putrid. In a Hitler moustache Julian's
father (Alberto Lionello) welcomes a worthy from the past, Herdhitze (Ugo Tognazzi), travelling
under an assumed name, which had become a common practice now. They negotiate on a history of
wrongdoing. Mr Klotz is vilely comic, bemoaning his age and awarding his contemporary a comparative
youthfulness, a success powered by his earlier evils. "I am an old fireplace while you are
a modern radiator." They see others less favourably, party guests observed in their gorging.
"Germany. What a capacity for digestion. Merde! And what a capacity for defecation."
Everything is eaten up and eaten away, the son inclusive, submitting himself to a pen of hungry
pigs where he is snaffled up, "until nothing remained."
The quiet of the centuries past sequences can be close to hypnotic. The camera is unsteady,
handheld, searching with Clementi and then his excitable band of anthropothagi, for food,
anything edible. Clementi is a slim, handsome Sawney Bean, and though he is the infectious
instigator of the flesh eating it is he that is the first to admit his guiltiness of his
wrongdoing and accept his punishment. Some of the subtitles are a little off ("Hitler
was a little feminine" becomes "Hitler was a little female"). The camerawork
is inconsiderate, unimportant; the true key to the film's affability despite the dark themes
is its keen wit. One to be seen but not one to overly enthuse over...