Hawks and Sparrows & Pigsty | A double-bill of the poetic cinema of Pier Paolo Pasolini on blu-ray
In 2012, Eureka! released onto DVD new high-definition transfers of two of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s allegorial 1960s films, Hawks and Sparrows (Uccellacci e uccellini) and Pigsty (Porcile), as part of their Masters of Cinema collection. These masterpieces of Italian cinema have now been given a Blu-ray makeover for a limited edition double-bill release (just 1500 units), due out from Monday 22 February 2016.
In the 1966 satire, Hawks and Sparrows, veteran comic Toto and Pasolini’s muse Ninetto Davoli (in his first screen role) appear as characters in two different time frames. One finds them playing father and son who encounter a collection of characters, and a talking crow, while walking the outskirts of Rome. The second segment, set in the 13th-century, finds them as monks tasked by St Francis of Assisi to teach hawks and sparrows to love each other.
This road movie (by foot) is very much ‘of its era’, but shows Pasolini’s keen eye for the changing Italian landscape – from the Etruscan necropolis in Viterbo, Lazio to the shanty towns of Rome – which uses to question Italy’s identity in the 1960s, a period when Church and communism clashed.
1969’s Pigsty challenges what makes a political film and, along with the director’s controversial Salo (1975), contains a visual language that is pure Pasolini. As in Hawks and Sparrows, two stories play out – one set in a distant past, the other in modern Germany, but both are linked to an overall theme: that all societies end up consuming their children.
The first wordless historical story, set in a desolate landscape (beautifully shot around Mount Etna), follows an aimless wanderer whose cannibalistic tendencies earn him a group of followers but also the wrath of polite society. The second story concerns the son of a wealthy industrialist who revolts against his father’s ruthless capitalism and his girlfriend’s student politics in a most extreme way – he sleeps with pigs. Together, these two tales become a cinematic political poem about anarchy and rebellion.
Now, the experimental nature of Hawks and Sparrows and Pigsty might be cause for some head scratching, but they are both thought-provoking and breathtakingly visual, while the essays, interviews and notes in the booklet are an invaluable guide into the director’s mindset. This is Pasolini at his height.
THE MASTERS OF CINEMA BLU-RAY RELEASE
• Limited edition of 1500 units.
• High-definition transfers of both films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks.
• Optional English subtitles.
• Theatrical trailers for both films.
• Collector’s booklet, featuring essays on both films; a 1969 interview with Pasolini about Hawks and Sparrows; an English translation a 1974 interview with Pasolini discussing the actor Totó; a 1969 note on Pigsty by Pasolini circulated at the Venice première; an extract from a 1969 interview with the director Pasolini; and archival imagery.