Recently rereleased alongside comedic classic Hawks and Sparrows (Uccellacci e uccellini, 1966) courtesy of Eureka’s esteemed Masters of Cinema home entertainment label, Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’s immeasurably dark satire Pigsty (Porcile, 1969) parallels two equably disturbing and disparate worlds which come together for a suitably bleak, yet ultimately satisfying finale. Though not quite plumbing the same depths as the depraved Salò (1975), Pasolini’s austere exploration of pig-like greed resonates now more than ever. Pigsty begins with a vision of the immaculately gaunt Pierre Clémenti wandering across an unidentifiable grey world, seemingly trapped in the void of time and space.
With only the thinly-spread flora and fauna of the great volcanic wastes available as a source of nourishment, Clémenti’s nomad reveals himself as a barbarous cannibal, teaming up with fellow flesh-eater Franco Citti as they stalk the barren hillsides for human sacrifices. Inter-cut with this stomach-churning saga, Pasolini presents a fraught relationship between two would-be lovers (Godard regular Anne Wiazemsky and Jean-Pierre Léaud); one, a revolutionary red-head with dreams of uprisings; the other, Julian, a spoilt rich-kid with an unhealthy infatuation with his father’s herd of pigs. At the same time, his porcine father (Alberto Lionello) is negotiating a lucrative broker with the demonic Herdhitze (Ugo Tognazzi).
Rivalling the infamous Salò in terms of overtly visceral societal and political critique, it’s easy to see why Pasolini has inspired such adoration from fellow artists and free-thinkers over the decades, especially through Pigsty (with former-Smiths frontman Morrissey nigh-on dedicating an entire album to the Italian poet-filmmaker and the film in question). Whilst many an Italian master was still entrenched in neorealism, Pasolini broke free of his own personal bonds with spectacular, often controversial results. With the acclaimed Oedipus Rex (1957) also due for the Masters of Cinema treatment on 24 September, there’s never been a better time for couch potatoes to lose themselves in the many distorted worlds of one of Italy’s greatest ever auteurs.