The second part of Pasolini's Trilogy of Life (beginning with The Decameron and ending with Arabian Nights), is based on the fourteenth century stories of Geoffrey Chaucer. Plunging with gusto into some of the blackest and bawdiest of the tales, Pasolini celebrates almost every conceivable form of sexual act with a rich, earthy humour and weaves a visual magic that draws on the work of artists such as Bruegel and Bosch. A particular delight is the use of a largely British cast, including Hugh Griffith, Jenny Runacre and Tom Baker, while Pasolini himself takes the part of Chaucer.
This is the second in Pasolini's series of setting classic bawdy tales to film… In this case, he selected eight of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, including the infamous miller's tale and the incident with the red hot poker kiss…
The tales revolve around a group of pilgrims who are journeying to the shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket of Canterbury… The trip is so boring that they begin telling each other stories that soon get obscene, gory and very sexy… Pasolini adds another motif to his visualization by placing Chaucer himself into the movie, periodically cutting to him writing at his desk...
Pasolini inserts pleasure and amusement at social customs, especially marriage… Some of the stories are funny, others are deadly serious… The scene where a young man is burned for making love to another of his own sex, for example, is chilling...
In fact, Pasolini's using non professional actors, is more in keeping with the tone of the original than the usual romanticized versions...
-This is a remarkable film. One usually remembers Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as difficult, religious old English burden of school, but Pasolini was smart enough to concentrate on the humor, which travels from rude slapstick (hot iron poker shoved up the villain's behind) to merciless show of greed and it's consequences. Only after the film did I take a fresh look at Canterbury Tales and lo! it was there all along... but it required Pasolini to lay it bare, for everyone to see.
Country:Italy | France
Release Date:30 May 1980 (USA)
Also Known As:Ask bahçesi
Filming Locations:Bath, Somerset, England, UK
Language: Italian with English subtitles.
If you are a Pasolini fan you might want to look at Medea