It’s not just in Italy, or even Bologna, or the village of Casarsa where Pier Paolo Pasolini spent his youth that the centennial of his birth will be marked this year. It’ll occur all over the world, of course. In Cappadocia or Aleppo, Syria, where in the ’60s some scenes of Pasolini’s films were set, certainly no one would remember this man with the lean physique shouting “Action!” in a slightly shrill voice. Luckily, there are some beautiful photos of him on set, in the middle of those dusty, distant countries, in the company of Italian cinematic stars. But mostly, it’s the hats that remain.
Hat on and: Action!
Who, in Matera, had ever seen a headdress like the one worn by the Pharisees in the 1964 Gospel According to St. Matthew (Vangelo secondo Matteo)? Pasolini, as usual, drew inspiration from his favorite painters. Those woven crowns of white straw, which sprout like buildings atop the actors’ heads, resemble those painted by Piero della Francesca a few centuries earlier. In Pasolini’s cinematic world, clothes transform the characters; they highlight a hidden facial feature, or even a personality trait. This also happens to us, with the hats that we hang outside our doors. And they don’t need to have been designed by Pasolini.
Stage costumes and Italian art