Love Meetings (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964)



Pasolini’s Love Meetings is on MUBI at the moment and I highly recommend. What do Italians think about sex, love, marriage, prostitution, homosexuality, divorce, etc. in 1964? Pasolini goes all over the country and asks them. He covers north and south; city and country, peasants and proles; people in the big cities — Milan, Rome, Palermo; the middle classes; men and women. There’s an attempt at representativeness which he acknowledges is not comprehensive. Those pictured have clearly been given a say on their representation as one occasionally gets a ‘self-censored’ notice as they speak. There’s a bit of voice-over narration, but most of the film is given over to hearing what people have to say, including the prostitutes; so the film never suffers from ‘Voice-of-God’ certitude; and half-way through Pasolini interrogates the veracity of what he’s been presenting: it’s clear many people are not telling the truth, and for various reasons; also all the speakers have been self-selected, what about those who were silent or didn’t get a chance to speak, he asks Alberto Moravia?

Love Meetings is an imaginative and ethical film; one sees the filmmakers grappling with so many of the concerns that would become central to documentary for the next twenty years, including the filmmaker putting himself in the picture, questioning how to represent and whether the representation is truthful, and giving those a represented a say in their representation. Plus it’s all such fun. The analysis is Marxist; the tone humorous, respectful, inclusive. A film that seeks knowledge and radiates intelligence and empathy.


José Arroyo

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