THE HAWKS AND THE SPARROWS (UCCELLACCI E UCCELLINI)
(director/writer: Pier Paolo Pasolini; screenwriter: story by Pier Paolo Pasolini; cinematographers: Tonino Delli Colli/Mario Bernardo; editor: Nino Baragli; music: Ennio Morricone; cast: Femi Benussi(Luna),Ninetto Davoli(Innocenti Ninetto / Brother Ninetto), Totò(Innocenti Totò / Brother Cicillo ); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Alfredo Bini; Brandon Films; 1966-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)
“For the birds.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This black and white shot allegory jokester avant-garde fantasy pic from Pier Paolo Pasolini (“Salo”/”Witches”/”Oedipus Rex”), about injustice in the world, is for the birds. It offers such wisdom as having a crow inform us “The age of Brecht and Rossellini is finished.”
The opening credits feature every cast member’s name sung.
A father (Toto, popular Italian comedian, for whom the film was made) walks with his saw-dust brained teenage son (Ninetto Davoli) along a desolate path on the outskirts of Rome and are accompanied by a talking left-wing philosophical bird. The bird rips into the pair for being ignorant about whether Marxism is more beneficial than Christianity, and the bird magically transports them back in time to the 12th-century on a self-discovery journey to get answers. The innocent duo, now dressed as monks, hope to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assissi and convert the birds to Christianity. But their failure brings them back to modern-times, where Pasolini manipulates them to reject Marxism, Christianity and Rossellini’s neorealism.
The goofy film, filled with a charm and humor that eluded me, has these everyman figures encounter hawks that can communicate with them and sparrows that are converted but devoured by the hawks. It’s the kind of a silly whimsical film that tosses in whatever into the mix and then lets us know that the earthly pleasures are the most important thing in life.
It would help the foreign viewer to know that the film was made shortly after the assassination of Italian socialist leader Palmiro Togliatti in 1964. His funeral is fictionalized in the film. For Pasolini, Communism was meant, in its best form, as a Christian expansion on morality, to end class conflicts and to assist the poor.
REVIEWED ON 4/22/2013 GRADE: B-