The Canterbury Tales (film)

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The Canterbury Tales
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
Written by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Based on The Canterbury Tales 
by Geoffrey Chaucer
Starring Franco Citti, Ninetto Davoli, Laura Betti, Pier Paolo Pasolini
Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Tonino Delli Colli
Studio Les Productions Artistes Associés
Produzioni Europee Associate
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates West Germany 2 July 1972 (premiere at BIFF)
Italy 2 September 1972
USA 30 March 1980
Running time 122 minutes
110 min (reduced cut)
Country Italy
Language Italian/English

The Canterbury Tales (Italian: I racconti di Canterbury) is a 1972 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini and based on the medieval narrative poem The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. It is the second film in Pasolini's "Trilogy of Life", the others being The Decameron and Arabian Nights. It won the Golden Bear at the 22nd Berlin International Film Festival.[1]

The adaptation covers eight of the 24 tales and contains abundant nudity, sex and slapstick humour. Many of these scenes are present or at least alluded to in the original as well, but some are Pasolini's own additions.

The film sometimes diverges from Chaucer. For example, "The Friar's Tale" is significantly expanded upon: where the Friar leads in with a general account of the archdeacon's severity and the summoner's corruption, Pasolini illustrates this with a specific incident which has no parallel in Chaucer. Two men are caught in an inn bedroom committing sodomy. One is able to bribe his way out of trouble, but the other, poorer man is less fortunate: he is tried and convicted of sodomy — it does not occur to the judge that such an act cannot be committed by one person alone — and is sentenced to death. As a foretaste of Hell, he is burned alive inside an iron cage ("roasted on a griddle" in the words of one spectator) while vendors sell beer and various baked and roasted foods to the spectators.

In Pasolini's version of the fragmentary "Cook's Tale", Ninetto Davoli plays the role of Perkyn in manner clearly inspired by Charlie Chaplin.

This film featured Tom Baker in a small role, as one of the husbands of the Wife of Bath.


First story: Ser January and May the bride[edit]

The main character is Ser January (January Sir), a rich nobleman with a great and sumptuous palace, but who is also old and ugly, with repulsive manners. He passes the whole day trying to find a wife, and he succeeds in marrying a young beauty who accepts his proposal of marriage just for the money.

At the wedding feast, a beautiful young man makes eyes at the unhappy bride, who returns his yearning glances. Later, they send each other letters declaring their love. At first May does not attempt to meet with her young admirer, but after becoming completely disgusted by sexual intercourse with her old, lecherous husband, decides to meet with the young man for a tryst. This desire is further fuelled by the loss of vision in her husband which forces May to be his caregiver.

After a few days the lovers agree to meet in the garden of the house in January, wherein reside two witches. Saying that she wishes to pick mulberries, May convinces January to let her climb upon his back to reach the tree where her beloved awaits her. In the tree, they passionately kiss and make love.

But the pleasure does not last long, because one of the witches restores January's sight, revealing to him the spectacle of May and her lover in the tree. He begins to scream that he has been deceived, and the boy runs away. May tries to trick the foolish January by telling him that everything was her imagination, as he has just recently begun to see. January Ser is duped and returns home happy with his bride.

Second story: the devil and the inquisitor[edit]

A man (Franco Citti) is looking through a window at a second character who is peeping something into a slot. The man is a blackmailer sent by the Inquisition English to discover relationships between prostitutes and licentious men of high rank. In fact, these after seeing her lover's face, he runs into the church and told the inquisitor, while the mysterious imagine the following step by step.

After a few days the put back again on the scene to peek into the hole seeing the same prostitute who has a relationship with another man. Then the man has no more doubts and sent directly to the Inquisition in the room, but decides to acquit the victim making them pay a fine, discharge of his sentence.

However, it remains another criminal to be discovered and put that same day, the interrogator sends to another room where the first customer of the prostitute is having a homosexual relationship with a young man.

For the roughness of the matter the man is immediately condemned to the stake, and while being dragged to the street screaming like a pig for slaughter, the mystery man watching the scene, posing as a seller of pancakes.

The man is burned before the eyes of all, and under the mocking smile of the seller and we always put the blackmailer.

At the turn of mules the two men converse freely telling all their misdeeds and deception until the mysterious man does not occur. He claims to be the Devil of Hell and come to bring suffering to mankind. The blackmailer believes and proposes a deal. the two together and steal everything that mankind will donate to the devil, if he will take it.

The two come to an old mill where an elderly woman is washing clothes. The blackmailer wants of 12 rob money, but the old woman does not want cederglieli, making oath to donate rather he and the cruise of gold that has the devil.

A flash of pleasure of greed shining in the eyes of the devil who takes such vessel the life of his partner.

Third story: Perkin the festive[edit]

Inspired by the character of Charlie Chaplin, the festive lacking of sense raging in the city of London, playing the fool Perkin. These are just chased away by a shop, because they are too stupid to take on the job as a cook, and sets off in search of adventure.

After collided with two police officers enter a house where there is a noble stag party and tries to seduce the bride, but the stern father sends Perkin kicked out on the street.

Returned home without having accomplished nothing, Perkin is sent to bed without dinner and the next day finds a new job. It comes to selling the eggs to the people, but Perkin, while the owner is not watching, he starts to play with three guys and this is again sent away, but not before he had made an agreement with the young people to go out that night. Late at night Perkin meets again with the guys and one of them invites her into his house to make love to his wife, a known prostitute. The next morning, while the three are still asleep, Perkin a strange dream: Imagine being in a large room and dance along with thousands of girls all naked reciprocate his desire. But the dream is interrupted by the arrival of two guards who arrest Perkin and perform in public so that everyone can make fun of him.

Fourth story: Nicholas and Alison[edit]

The young singing student Nicola is madly in love with Alison, the wife of a simple carpenter. However, it seems that their love is about to take a turn for the worse. Nicola decides to stay hidden in the attic for three days, while his two friends, Martin and Absalom (of which the first homosexual), go at night in the house of the carpenter to court to Alison.

The next day the carpenter woke up early, went to the room of Nicholas and is absorbed in deep meditation. He tries to understand what is happening, when Nicola gets up and starts screaming like a banshee that soon there will be a Flood worse than what happened to Noah and immediately had to make three large wooden containers to contain Alison, he and Nicola himself. The foolish carpenter immediately starts to work and then, on cue, the three are put into the pots of wood hanging from a beam, waiting for the flood.

Meanwhile, in a church, there is a huge party to which they are participating and also Absalom Martin. The latter said he had not seen him all day and then the carpenter encourages his friend to travel from his Alison, who has since invited him into his room Nicola, as the carpenter is bell'addormentato.

While Alison and Nicola are kissing, Absalom comes to the window, but is rejected by the girl more vole. Then the young man asks for a kiss and Alison only has the idea to make him a trick: as it is dark, the window displays her ass and just lips Absalom rest on the skin, the deep fart.

Absalom flees angry swearing revenge and the next day tackles a burning iron.

Returned in the same window asks Alison to look out for a moment to regain her a kiss in exchange for a ring. Then Nicola thinks to repay in the same coin the other night and exhibits his ass, being burned right in the hollow of the anus. Screaming, Nicholas runs away in the bathroom, while the carpenter to the cry of the word "water", cuts to control the rope, smashing to the ground.

Fifth story: the woman of Bath[edit]

In the festive and colourful city of Bath, a woman is unhappy with her old and sick husband and runs with her friend Isolde to peek at a door, where a very beautiful student is taking a bath naked. Immediately the woman he falls in love and want, but the young Giannozzo seems to avoid it. The occasion for the woman happens during a party in which said his condition to the young man to marry her immediately after her husband's death due to a favorable prediction. Marriage is but a day at home she doubts the loyalty of her new husband. Giannozzo, who understood everything, decides to reproach his vices of seductress peering through the doors and so throws her against a barrel of iron, breaking his skull. Before she died, she called him Giannozzo to kiss him, but when he, now in tears, approached his lips, his wife bites the nose.

Sixth story: the students and the miller[edit]

Two young students of an academy of Cambridge, run by a dean now dying, decide to go to their miller friend to learn how to sow and grind grain. While the two are working in the mill, the miller scares their horse to force them to produce more sacks of flour as possible. Then the two boys set out in search of the horse, while the miller laughs heartily.

Came the night, while the miller's happy family is eating, the two boys come back and knock on the door, asking for hospitality. The host invites them to sleep with them in the room, but at night the students decide to have fun. In fact, one goes to bed with the miller's daughter and the other, alzatasi his wife to go to the bathroom, quickly move a mailbox near the nuptial bed, confused by the woman to return from want. So the wife goes to bed with the other student and the two couples spend a night of magic. The next morning at daybreak, the lover of Moly, the miller's daughter, wakes up and goes to bed and chatting with the miller, believing his companion, revealing all that he did and these, mounted on a rampage, attacks him making a great hubbub of beds upside down and cries.

Seventh story: three friends and "Death"[edit]

In a small county passes in silence a carriage carrying the corpse of a young man, Rufus. His three friends if they are drinking in the inn and want to know in what condition he's dead. They are told that these one night, drunk, has invoked many times and that the death has brought with him. The boys do not believe the story and vow to avenge his friend, putting on their way to the countryside. They find an old wanderer (voiced by Eduardo De Filippo) very sad for the loss of youth. Young people mistake him for a spy and want to kill him for the death of their friend, but these taunts and directs them to an oak tree, where there is a treasure. In fact, the three boys when they arrive are all kinds of treasures: jewels, rubies, emeralds and gold crowns. Young people do not know how to take it home and then one of them sends another to buy bottles of wine and bread for the night, while the others stand guard. The selected goes to the market and buy the necessary, but also of the poison with the intent to kill friends to steal gold. But while these are mixing poison in the wine, the other two are plotting against the boy. In fact, they want to first play with him and then stab him.

Then came the friend and the three drink from flasks and then the two conspirators commit the crime, but after a while die too, poisoned by the wine.

Eighth story: the friar greedy[edit]

For a filthy friar greedy of wealth is a bad day that awaits. The man goes to a rich man dying, longing for his legacy. These declares that what he seeks is a little below his ass and sticks his hand there friar there, getting an unpleasant surprise. That night at the house of Brother comes an angel who invites them to follow him to hell. Once in a surreal atmosphere, full of pain and suffering, the devils and the damned colourful hanged, or forked harassed by demons, the angel turns to Satan, asking him what the penalty is for the brothers greed. This raises the tail and download a tremendous fart, immediately imitated by all the other devils that come out from the anus scorreggiando are a multitude of small brothers as if they did.



  1. ^ "Berlinale 1972: Prize Winners". 

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