The Canterbury Tales (film)

The Canterbury Tales (Italian: I racconti di Canterbury) is a 1972 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and based on the medieval narrative poem The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. It is the second film in Pasolini's "Trilogy of Life", the others being The Decameron and Arabian Nights. It won the Golden Bear at the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival.

The adaptation covers eight of the 24 tales and contains abundant nudity, sex and slapstick humour. Many of these scenes are present or at least alluded to in the original as well, but some are Pasolini's own additions.

The film sometimes diverges from Chaucer. For example, "The Friar's Tale" is significantly expanded upon: where the Friar leads in with a general account of the archdeacon's severity and the summoner's corruption, Pasolini illustrates this with a specific incident which has no parallel in Chaucer. Two men are caught in an inn bedroom having sex. One is able to bribe his way out of trouble, but the other, poorer man is less fortunate: he is tried and convicted of sodomy—it does not occur to the judge that such an act cannot be committed by one person alone—and is sentenced to death. As a foretaste of Hell, he is burned alive inside an iron cage ("roasted on a griddle" in the words of one spectator) while vendors sell beer and various baked and roasted foods to the spectators.

In Pasolini's version of the fragmentary "Cook's Tale", Ninetto Davoli plays the role of Perkyn in manner clearly inspired by Charlie Chaplin.

This film featured Tom Baker, before he became the famed Fourth Doctor from Doctor Who, in a small role as one of the husbands of the Wife of Bath.

Set in England in the Middle Ages, stories of peasants, noblemen, clergy and demons are interwoven with brief scenes from Chaucer's home life and experiences implied to be the basis for the Canterbury Tales. Each episode does not take the form of a story told by different pilgrim, as is the case in Chaucer's stories, but simply appear in sequence, seemingly without regard for the way that the tales relate to one another in the original text. All the stories are linked to the arrival of a group of pilgrims at Canterbury, among whom is the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, played by Pasolini himself.

This page was last edited on 14 February 2018, at 02:58.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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