The Canterbury Tales 1972 *****


Adapting the tales of Geoffrey Chaucer in his own inimitable style, Pier Paulo Pasolini casts himself as the English author to introduce a selection of stories; mixing non-professional actors with familiar faces (Hugh Griffith, Laura Betti), Pasolini creates eight fresh, vibrant and defiantly rude scenarios in a spirit that’s faithful to the texts. The Millers Tale, the Pardoner’s Tale and others are all rendered with abandon, copious male and female nudity, urine and excrement flying across the screen; the finale features huge devils squatting while priests come flying out of their backsides. But there’s also plenty of beauty in the artful compositions and Ennio Morricone’s score, and neat comedy from Ninetto Davoli, channelling Charlie Chaplin with some success.

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