The Hawks and the Sparrows

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The Hawks and the Sparrows
(Uccellacci e uccellini)
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced by Alfredo Bini
Written by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Starring Totò
Ninetto Davoli
Femi Benussi
Music by Ennio Morricone
Distributed by CIDIF
Release dates
  • 4 May 1966 (1966-05-04)
Running time
88 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian

The Hawks and the Sparrows (Italian: Uccellacci e uccellini, literally "Ugly Birds and Little Birds") is a 1966 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. It was entered into the 1966 Cannes Film Festival where a "Special Mention" was made of Totò, for his acting performance.[1]

The film can be described as neorealist, and deals with Marxist concerns about poverty and class-conflict. It features the popular Italian comic-actor Totò accompanied on a journey by his son (played by Ninetto Davoli).


Totò and his son Ninetto roam the neighbourhood and the countryside of Rome. During the walk they observe a body being removed from a house following a murder. They next encounter a talking crow, who, described on the intertitles as, "For the benefit of those who were not paying attention or are in doubt, we remind you that the Crow is – as you say – a left-wing intellectual of the kind found living before Palmiro Togliatti's death").

The Crow subsequently recounts the tale of "Fra Ciccillo" and "Fra Ninetto" (still played by Totò and Ninetto), two Franciscan friars, who are bid by St. Francis to preach the Gospel to the hawks and the sparrows. After many months, they succeeded in preaching the commandment of love unto the species separately, but are not able to get them to love each other. The sparrow-hawks continue to kill and eat the sparrows, as it's in their nature.

After the tale, the journey of Totò and Ninetto carries on, the Crow still accompanying them. They encounter other individuals: land-owners who order them out off their land when they are caught defecating; a family living in absolute poverty with now food and who Totò threatens to drive out of the house if the rent is not paid; a group of travelling actors (representing figures marginalised from society such as women, those that are gay, the elderly, racial minorities, and the disabled) and who persuade the pair to push the group's Cadillac car for them; and a rich man who is waiting for Totò to give him the money he owes him (in contrast to the earlier episode where Toto had demanded rent). After that, a brief extract of news footage of the funeral of Palmiro Togliatti, the long-time leader of the Italian Communist Party. Then, after having met a prostitute, they end up killing and eating the Crow, whom they found to be unconscionably boring.

Pasolini declared that Uccellacci e uccellini was his favourite film, as it was the only one that did not disappoint his expectations.

Ennio Morricone's opening theme music features Domenico Modugno singing the movie's credits.



  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Hawks and the Sparrows". Retrieved 2009-03-08. 

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