Allegories of Contamination: Pier Paolo Pasolini's Trilogy of Life


207 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7219-4
DDC 791.43'0233'092




Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Alan Thomas is a professor of English at the University of Toronto.


Pasolini sought to escape contemporary Italian society—and
literature—by making films. His bid for freedom appears to have been
driven in part by an impulse toward the pure and innocent statement.
Three films made late in his career, The Decameron (1970), The
Canterbury Tales (1972), and Arabian Nights (1974)—the so-called
“Trilogy of Life”—expressed a more or less joyous sexuality. That
they were based on well-known literary works was a deliberate
subversion; as Pasolini has written, “the past is used to contest the

This book, which concerns itself with Pasolini’s stylistic
accomplishment, contains some interesting discussions of image
sequences. In the author’s view, Pasolini’s films are self-reflexive
allegories of cultural “contamination.” Allegories of Contamination
is grounded in an academic theoretical approach that echoes some of
Pasolini’s own theorizations but is remote from the affective
qualities of these astonishing films.


Rumble, Patrick., “Allegories of Contamination: Pier Paolo Pasolini's Trilogy of Life,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,