Anger by Pasolini



Commentary on a poem in the form of an essay documentary by Pier Paolo Pasolini

On April 13, 1963, at the Cine Lux in Genoa, Anger (Anger, 1963), signed by Pier Paolo Pasolini (first part) and Giovannino Guareschi (second part). The film was shown for two days in Milan, Rome and Florence, having stopped circulating until the early 1990s, when it was released on videocassette and broadcast by the state television network.[1]

If the public received the documentary with indifference, the critics in general did not appreciate it, abhorring Guareschi's part and not being enthusiastic about Pasolini's, disappointed, like the spectators, by the lack of clash between the ideals of a left-wing director and the other from the right, as there was no dialectical opposition between the two authors in the work, but only the juxtaposition of antagonistic views.

With Anger, however, Pasolini sought to pave the way for “a new cinematographic genre”, in line with the exploration of new expressive forms in the literary field and adjacent ones, in the early 1960s, according to Maria Rizzarelli. In fact, already at the end of the 1950s, the writer agreed to write a report entitled “La lunga strada di sabbia” for the monthly magazine Success, when, between June and August 1959, he traveled practically the entire Italian coast, on a journey by car.[2] This report, in which Pasolini was already beginning to combine his impressions with images produced by others – the photos were by Paolo Di Paolo – still contained the germ of the documentary. Comezi d'amore (love rallies, 1964), when, behind the wheel of his car, he traveled all over Italy, wielding a microphone, to interview his countrymen about sexuality.

Furthermore, in Appunti per un'Orestiade africana (Notes for an African Oresteia, 1969), the preliminary sequences shot in Uganda and Tanzania, as if they were effectively those of the work to be carried out, were interspersed with archival material and with the debate between Pasolini and the African students of the University of Rome, to whom he presented the movie project. in the never edited Appunti per un romanzo sull'immondezza (1970) also, in which he had filmed the assemblies of street cleaners on strike and their humble work through the streets of the Italian capital, the audio, which was lost, provided interviews and a commentary in poetry – probably the homonymous composition – in which the workers they expressed in popular Italian and in Latin, the language of angels: thus, poetically, Pasolini would insert his political discourse into what should have been a mere record. The mixture of materials also characterized Uccellacci and uccellini (hawks and birds, 1966), in which moving images of Palmiro Togliatti's burial were inserted into the body of the fictional feature film.

More than the three fiction films that preceded it – Beggar (social misfit, 1961), Mom Rome (Mom Rome, 1962) and “La ricotta” (“The ricotta”, 1963) –, the 1963 documentary represented a point of arrival in Pasolin’s trajectory: literature was no longer enough for the author, who, expanding his meaning, began to pursue , as the poet Andrea Zanzotto pointed out, “total poetry”, that is, a “suprapoetic” unit, perhaps identified by him in cinema. Carlo di Carlo, assistant director on Anger, unlike Zanzotto, had no doubts: “I am sure that he has a first poetic approach in the text of Anger, in which – […] already convinced of having chosen a more immediate, more real, more liberating medium, which was cinema with its language – he sought to experience his language in the language of cinema” (testimony to Tatti Sanguineti).

Anger, by corresponding to a point of arrival, also represented a starting point for new cinematographic paths (as noted), in which poetic experiences that Pasolini had already been carrying out were emulated, in which the reader was encouraged to complete lyrical images left in suspense.[3]

The title Anger was not a novelty in Pasolin's work, as he had already designated a poem published by the magazine New arguments (September-October 1960), later included in the collection The religion of my time (1961), and an unedited volume of short stories, written in 1960 and published in newspapers between the fourth quarter of that year and the beginning of the following. On July 16, 1962, Pasolini signed a contract with producer Gastone Ferranti and began dedicating himself to the argument and script for the documentary, beginning the troubled adventure of Anger.

Ferranti, producer of the weekly newsreel free world (November 1951-1959)[4], had the idea of ​​taking advantage of the archive footage he had available to make a film in six episodes (directed by Mino Guerrini; Enzo Muzii and Piero Nelli; Ugo Guerra; Ernesto Gastaldi; Gualtiero Jacopetti and Pasolini), in the wake of the huge success commercial of mondo cane (Dog world, 1962), by Jacopetti, Paolo Cavara and Franco Prosperi, in whose vertiginous succession of filmed sequences a sensationalist tone prevailed, albeit disguised as moral considerations.

the collective project Pianeta Marte does not enter about the adventures of Martians on Earth, where they discovered the contradictions of modern life, was left out, but Pasolini convinced the producer to entrust him with the undertaking. His first reaction when examining the archival material was not positive, but some of those black and white photograms enchanted him, as he declared in an interview with Maurizio Liverani (“Pier Paolo Pasolini ritira la firma dal film Anger»”, paese sera, Rome, April 14, 1963): “Attracted by these images, I thought of making a film, as long as I could comment on it with verses. My ambition was to invent a new cinematographic genre. Make an ideological and poetic essay with some new sequences”.

The script for the film was probably written between the summer and autumn of 1962 (in the northern hemisphere), preceded by the writing of an extensive script, published in n. 38 of the magazine new life (September 20 of the same year), in which, more than listing the facts to be narrated, what interested Pasolini was to determine the political-poetic approach of his reflection on the world around him: as a committed poet, he refused to “normality” born in the post-war period, observing from a distance a peace still threatened by constant social and political conflicts, and proclaiming a “state of emergency”, that is, signaling that something was intoxicating human nature.

In the premise that preceded the argument, the author declared that it was more a “journalistic work” than a “creative one”, an “essay” more than a “narrative” about the events that occurred between the end of World War II and the early 1960s; however, according to Georges Didi-Huberman, it ended up delivering to the public “a moving atlas of contemporary injustice” (an expression reported by literary critic Andrea Cortellissa). Moreover, despite Pasolini nodding to “a certain hypocritical ideological prudence”, the film's Marxist approach was not camouflaged in the script, on the contrary, it was exalted in the final utopian vision of the “path of the cosmos” that opened before men.

In addition to the script, Pasolini had also released five verse excerpts from the script in the article by Luigi Biamonte, “Commenti in versi di Pier Paolo Pasolini per Anger”, published by the Roman newspaper the country (October 12, 1962). The poetic excerpts included compositions written on other occasions: in the last two sequences of the script dedicated to the Russian cosmonaut German Titov, the “Ballata intellettuale per Titov” (published by L'Europa letteraria, in October 1961).

The “Sequenza di Marilyn” also took up, with variants, the poetry “Marilyn”, written after the actress's death (August 4, 1962) and sung by Laura Betti in a literary-cabaret show (November 16 of the same year); moreover, two sequences about Algeria referred to the famous poem by Paul Éluard, “Liberté” (“Freedom”, March 5, 1942). Drastically reducing the size of the composition, Pasolini transformed the ode to the freedom of the French territory from the Nazi occupation into the painful song of liberation of Algerians from the long colonization, while on the screen there were photos of tortured and abused people, perhaps influenced by the reading of The Damned of the Earth (1961) by Frantz Fanon.

The filmmaker also made use of sequences from Czech, English and Soviet newsreels; photos traced by the assistant director, reproductions of socially themed works by Ben Shahn (five paintings), George Grosz (one drawing) and Renato Guttuso (eight paintings); abstract works by Jean Fautrier (temperas and pastels), black and white reproductions of paintings by painters from different eras: Giovanni Pontormo, Georges Braque and Jackson Pollock.

Voices were planned for the soundtrack over, to which would alternate, from time to time, silent moments, noises (bombing noises, cannons, exchanges of fire; ringing of bells, sirens, etc.), musical themes, popular songs, Cuban and Algerian revolutionary songs, popular songs Russians. The voices over there were three: the official voice, that is, the narrative voice of the archival material, and the two “voices that read” – as Pasolini called them –, the voice in poetry and prose voice, which formed a new narrative voice, unfolded and superimposed on the original audio. As the three voices read – sometimes isolated, sometimes intertwined –, cards were sometimes interspersed.

If the official voice was that of the newsreel announcer, the writer Giorgio Bassani had been entrusted with the almost always peaceful voice in poetry, while the painter Renato Guttuso had been in charge of the lively  prose voice. The voices of authorial commentary, clearly defined in the script, will sometimes merge and become indistinguishable in the audio of the documentary, not only when the two interpreters will alternate in reading, but especially because, frequently, the poetic language was not bound by metrical rules and rhythmic, while the prose revealed a lyrical tone.

The order of presentation of the facts narrated in the documentary should not be strictly chronological, because it is subordinated to the principle of montage, by affinity or by thematic contrast, as a method of construction of Pasolin's discourse. In fact, following some thematic lines, the sequences foreseen in the script can be grouped into sections or macrosequences.

The first section could include sequences about the new post-war world order and the consequences of the Cold War. After the solemn burial of former Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi (August 23, 1954), by contrast, the simple ceremony of repatriation of the remains of Italian soldiers slaughtered in Greece by Nazi troops (March 1, 1953) would be performed. Although the threat of an atomic war hung over the world, the same old Europe, looking to the future, was reborn together, with capitalism ready to start manipulating the working class again.

A statue of Christ, with arms outstretched in a sign of peace, was deposited at the bottom of the sea in Italy (August 29, 1954); however, in Korea the fratricidal struggle had continued until the armistice of July 27, 1953, and while there there was an exchange of hostages between nationalists and communists, the last Italian prisoners in Russia were returning home (January 15, 1954). Peace seemed to prevail in the world, but in Switzerland, the four representatives of the nations that had won the Second World War – Dwight D. Eisenhower (President of the United States), Anthony Eden (Prime Minister British), Nikolai Bulganin (Premier of the Soviet Union) and Edgar Faure (French Prime Minister) – “meet with war in their hearts”, according to Pasolini.

As soon as life resumed its course, the floods, mainly in the first half of the 1950s, punished several “innocent countries”: England (invaded by the “Waters of the Devil”), France (by the “Waters of Feudalism”), Germany (invaded by the “Waters of the Devil”), by the “Waters of the Semites”), Australia (by the “Waters of the Millennia”) and Italy (by the “Waters of the Last Hour”). By listing them, the poet seemed to pronounce a kind of anathema against them, who had to pay for their own mistakes, an ironic admonition, without that “false piety” with which the Pontifical Work of Assistance had promptly helped the Italian victims.

The “evil in life” was accompanied by the “good in life”, which had triggered a series of popular artistic manifestations in Germany, Australia, Venice, Pavia, etc., interspersed with reproductions of works by Shahn and Grosz, manifestations that they served to control the population and prepare the ground for the advent of television, “a new weapon […] invented for the dissemination of insincerity, lies” and for the “death of the soul”. Thus, the good and evil of life were equal.

A sequence of images dedicated to the Hungarian Revolution would start a new section, along with two segments on demonstrations of solidarity in Rome and Paris. In the film, the text, with its melodious intonation, overlapping the images seems to suggest a feeling of pity on the part of the poet towards the insurgents, but it is a false clue, because the repetitive and cadenced use of the adjective “black”, combined with two other adjectives, “White"and "bourgeois” – all three with the negative meaning of “reactionary, conservative, conformist” – and with the noun “Control”, reveals how much Pasolini was aligned with the Italian Communist Party in his negative view of the events in Hungary (October 23-November 10, 1956).

Two fragments on the Suez Canal Crisis (October 1956-March 1957) frame the section devoted to the Third World and Negritude issue, which encompassed both the Cuban Revolution (1959) and the subsequent Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961). ), and the end of European colonialism in Africa – Congo (1960), Tunisia (1956), Tanganyika (1962), Togo (1960), Algeria (1962) – with quick references also to countries in Asia (India, Indonesia).

To the liberation of Third World countries – joyful, despite the arduous path to be traveled – the poet opposed the vulgar joy of the servants of capital, in a small series of sequences that exalted the futile life of the powerful, as well as their old and new rites. Thus, images appear of the coronation of the Queen of England, the election of Ike Eisenhower, the death of Pius XII and the accession to the papal throne of John XXIII, who, due to his peasant origin, the poet hopes will become “the Shepherd of the Miserables”. ”, to whom the “Ancient World” belongs.

Pasolin's utopia of a new society based on tradition led him to extol the Soviet Union greatly: “A nation that restarts its history, first and foremost, restores to men the humility of looking innocently like their parents. The tradition!…". The poet dedicates a macro-sequence to her, in which the radiant socialist future, anchored in the archaic peasant world, was immediately contrasted with the alarming neo-capitalist future. Pasolini's vision of the Soviet Union has its foundations in the ideals of the October Revolution, which had endorsed the “values ​​of peasant humanism”, in the words of Francesca Tuscano, represented by Nikita Kruschev, whom, in the last sequence of the film, he will address your appeal for peace.

The only dissonant note in relation to the USSR is the visit to the Tretiakov gallery, in which the “glories of Soviet painting” were described with the same irony with which Pasolini attacked the informalism of a Fautrier, abstract art preferred by neocapitalists. To the rejection of socialist realism, inherited from the Stalinist era, he contrasted the vitality of the Sicilian painter Renato Guttuso, with a traveling of his most significant works to represent the period on screen in the documentary.

In the sequence dedicated to the death of Marilyn Monroe – “The best thing, in my memory of the film, the only part worthy of being preserved”, as he declared to Jon Halliday –, photos of the actress, images of atomic explosions, of a procession of the Week Santa, among others, established a relationship sui generis of parallel assembly, since they belonged to different spaces and times.

It was from Pasolini himself – for whom editing films was a game of assembling and disassembling – that Didi-Huberman analyzed the importance of montage in the poetics that presides over the fragment about Marilyn and, later, that of the wives of Italian miners who died in 1955 , when the author reached, from a poetic point of view, one of the high points of his script. More than any other, these two fragments are crossed by the “paradigm of death”: “it seems that the montage is destined to take into account death for take it apart and then put life back together itself, thus establishing a form of survival. Now, the main configuration of such a form – the main anthropological and poetic form of the whole operation – is nothing more than the threnos, the dirge that Pasolini, in Anger, I stubbornly wanted to take it up again on my own”.[5]

When the author finished editing the copy (100 minutes) and before beginning the recording of the voice-over, he showed the film to the producer, who was startled by the result and, afraid of censorship cuts and a commercial failure, proposed establishing a counterpoint with the ideas of an anticommunist author, Giovannino Guareschi. in order to ensure that the same historical events were shown from different points of view.

In early January 1963, Guareschi was already in Rome to work on his part, while Pasolini gave his film a new structure (to fit the 50 minutes allotted for it), cutting sixteen of the initial sequences and starting the second version with the Hungarian Revolution, to the sound of the Adagio in G minor, by Tomaso Albinoni. Some sequences were displaced or merged with others or even shortened, which altered the cadenced rhythm of the succession of images, facts verifiable in a detailed comparison with the script, since the original copy was not preserved.

Although the authors worked separately and without challenging each other, the producer invented a disagreement to feed the press and pique the public's curiosity. A publicity stunt to which the two lent themselves, with statements and even an epistolary exchange. The poet, however, when he saw Guareschi's part – not only reactionary and indifferentist, but, above all, dangerously demagogic – became indignant and announced that he would withdraw his signature from the film, a fact that became a little hazy.

Distributed in a few copies, the documentary was withdrawn from circulation by Warner Bros, probably due to the anti-American content on the part of Guareschi, in which the United States was called executioners and murderers, President John Kennedy was ridiculed, and the Navy anthem was vilified. . In the end, Pasolini's poetic discourse had been defeated by Guareschi's populism.

Seeking to save what is salvageable, Ferranti thought of reworking the film, first contacting Guareschi, whose proposal envisaged a true confrontation between the two authors and established a series of themes that altered the entire structure of the documentary. Having completed his contract and interested in new projects, Pasolini did not fall into the producer's new trap, who ended up hiring director Ugo Gregoretti, who suggested modifications very close to Guareschi's proposal; the new version, however, did not get off the ground.  

In 2001, the original text of Anger pasoliniana was published and, in 2007, Tatti Sanguineti, upon seeing the restored copy of the 1963 documentary, warned of the differences between the script and the film, launching the idea of ​​trying to return the original version to the screen, since the material file was available. Giuseppe Bertolucci took on the task and, at the 65th edition of the Festival de Venezia, presented La rabbia di Pasolini. Ipotesi di ricotruzione della versione originale del film (August 28, 2008). The opening sixteen themes were salvaged, but other cuts were not; the director himself and the writer Valerio Magrelli were the new superimposed voices, but the “restored” version did not convince all critics, even raising doubts about its philological validity.

Sixty years later, Anger remains a “bifront” work, due to the contrasting coexistence between the “poem-River» (the pasolinian script) and the documentary signed by Pasolini and Guareschi.[6] La rabbia di Pasolini. Ipotesi di ricotruzione della versione originale del film is a work by Bertolucci, it is not a restored film, nor is it “movies found”, as the 1963 edition was the result of modifications made by Pasolini himself to make room for Guareschi's part. Its cinematographic version, therefore, is that one and accepting only the Pasolinian half would mean rejecting the extreme clash of ideas – so characteristic of those years of Italian history – that springs from the association of the two authors.

*Mariarosaria Fabris is a retired professor at the Department of Modern Letters at FFLCH-USP. Author, among other books, of Italian cinematographic neorealism: a reading (Edusp).

This text is the succinct summary of a long essay, “Anger by Pier Paolo Pasolini: appunti su un poem in forma di documentary”, to be published by the Italian magazine of literary studies unimaginable campuses.


Cortellessa, Andrea. “Nella miniera” [introductory note to “'Sintagmi di vita e paradigma di morte. Presentazione di: Georges Didi-Huberman, Sentire il grisou', Orthotes, 2021”). The rivista di engramma, Venice, n. 181, maggio 2021.

didi-huberman, Georges. “'Sintagmi di vita e paradigma di morte. Presentazione di: Georges Didi-Huberman, Sentire il grisou', Orthotes, 2021”. The rivista di engramma, Venice, n. 181, maggio 2021.

Halliday, Jon. Pasolini su Pasolini. Conversazioni with Jon Halliday. Parma: Guanda, 1992 (

pasolini, Pier Paolo. “Osservazioni sul piano-sequenza” (1967). In pasolini, Pier Paolo. Heretical empiricism. Milano: Garzanti, 1972 (

pasolini, Pier Paolo. “Premise”. In: pasolini, Pier Paolo. Profile cinema. Milano: Mondadori, 2001, volume II (

pasolini, Pier Paolo. “La rabbia” (1962-1963); “[Il 'trattamento']” (1962). In: pasolini, Pier Paolo. Profile cinema. Milano: Mondadori, 2001, volume I (

Rizzarelli, Maria. “A rabbia 'non catalogabile' – Pasolini and the montage of poetry”. The rivista di engramma, Venice, n. 150, Oct. 2017.

SANGUINETI, Tatti. “La Rabbia 1, La Rabbia 2, La Rabbia 3… L'Arabia” [Contenuto extra del DVD Anger] Bologna: Gruppo Editoriale Minerva RaroVideo, 2008.

Tuscan, Francesca. La Russia in poetry by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Milano: BookTime, 2010 (

zanzotto, Andrea. “Pasolini poet”. In: zanzotto, Andrea and NALDINI, NICO (org.). Pasolini: poetry and page ritrovate. Rome: Lato Side Editori, 1980.


[1] In the second half of the 1960s, the left-wing association ARCI (Associazione ricreativa e culturale Italiana) promoted the circulation of a few copies (16 mm., black and white) of Pasolini's part only; Guareschi's was later broadcast on Silvio Berlusconi's channel.

[2] The articles were published on July 4, August 14 and September 5 of the same year. In my article “Percursos pasolinianos” (Mediterranean Dialogues Magazine, Curitiba, n. 9, 2015, available on the internet), five pages were dedicated to the Pasolinian text. In July 2022, the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center in Rio de Janeiro presented Paolo Di Paolo's photos in the exhibition Down a long sandy road – La lunga strada di sabbia.

[3] The term “notes”, which is repeated in the title of some documentaries and other Pasolinian texts, denotes that the author considered these works “unfinished”, in the sense of “Work in progress".

[4] The expression “free world” (= free world) had been created by Winston Churchill (March 5, 1946) to refer to Western countries aligned with the United States during the Cold War period.

[5] Didi-Huberman's concept of montage echoes Pasolini's in “Observations on the sequence-shot” (1967): “Death performs a lightning montage of our life: that is, it chooses its really significant moments (and now no longer modifiable by other possible contrary or incoherent moments) and places them one after the other, transforming our present, infinite, unstable and uncertain, [...] into a clear, stable past, right […]. Only thanks to death, our life serves us to express ourselves. Montage, therefore, operates on the material of the film […] what death operates on life”. In turn, Pasolinian ideas refer to the Freudian counterpoint between life and death, present in the essay Beyond the pleasure principle (Jenseits de Lustprinzips, 1920): it is the thought of death that gives meaning to life.

[6] The coexistence of different genres will also be present in the short film “La terra vista dalla luna” (“The earth seen from the moon”, third episode of Witches / ace witches, 1966), since the script had a written version and a comic version, reproduced for the first time in Pier Paolo Pasolini, I designed 1941-1975 (1978). In addition, the unpublished piece Theorem (1966) gave rise to a fragment of the lyrical composition poet delle ceneri (1966-67), which can be considered the plot of the film Theorem and the sketch of the eponymous novel, both from 1968.

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