In pre-war Italy, a young couple have a baby boy. The father, however, is jealous of his son – and the scene moves to antiquity, where the baby is taken into the desert to be killed. He is rescued, given the name Edipo (Oedipus), and brought up by the King and Queen of Corinth as their son. One day an oracle informs Edipo that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Horrified, he flees Corinth and his supposed parents – only to get into a fight and kill an older man on the road…
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Oedipus Rex is a relatively faithful adaptation of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Oedipus the King. Beginning in 1920’s Italy, a baby boy is born and is instantly envied by the displaced father. The setting then changes to ancient times, where a baby boy is being carried out into the desert by a servant to be left out to die from exposure. He is eventually picked up by a shepherd, who takes him back to the King and Queen of Corinth, who adopt the youngster and love him like one of their own. The child grows up to be Edipo (Pasolini’s frequent collaborator Franco Citti), an arrogant youth who wishes to see the world for himself. And so he set out on the road to Thebes, the place of his birth.
Plagued by a prophecy that dictates he is destined to murder his father and marry his mother, Edipo is a tortured but intuitive soul. He murders a rich man and his guards after they demand he clear a path for them on the road, and later frees a town from the clutches of a Sphinx by solving its riddle. Staying true to his own recognisable style, Pasolini tells the story of Oedipus not with a sweeping narrative, but through a collection of comedic, violent and often surreal vignettes, the most bizarre and ultimately thrilling being the scene in which Edipo murders the guards. He runs away from them as they chase him, before charging at them one by one and cutting them down. It’s a moment without any real motivational insight, offering but a glimpse into Edipo’s damaged psyche.
Post-Freud, the story of Oedipus cannot be experienced without reading into the incestuous and patricidal undertones. But these themes are less explored by Pasolini than the idea of Edipo being ultimately responsible for his own downfall. Rather than the inevitability of fate, Edipo creates his own path, committing murder on a whim and marrying while blinded by ambition. For a bulk of the film, Pasolini keeps the audience at arm’s length, favouring his own brushes of surrealism over a traditional narrative. While this may be occasionally frustrating – the pre-war scenes than book-end the film seem out of place and confusing – Citti’s wide-eyed performance is a fantastic distraction, and the Moroccan scenery helps provide a ghostly, Biblical atmosphere as well as a beautiful backdrop.
IMDB – 4 wins
DVDRip | MKV | 706 x 550 | x264 @ 2107 Kbps | 99 min | 1,95 Gb
Audio: Italian AC3 5.1/1.0 @ 384/128 Kbps | Subs: English (embedded)
Genre: Art-house, Drama | Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini