What are clouds?



Considerations on the adaptation of Shakespeare by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Among the numerous transpositions of Shakespeare's work to the cinema, one of the least remembered is the one by Pier Paolo Pasolini Othello (Othello) to perform Do you sleep in the clouds? (What are clouds?), third episode of the film Italian capriccio (caprice à italian.[1] The appropriation of the filmmaker, who used elements from someone else's work without renouncing his originality, is not very different from that carried out by William Shakespeare himself, when, around 1604, he transformed, in one of his most famous tragedies, a Renaissance novel, based on the Italian original or the French translation by Gabriel Chappuys (1584), according to Guido Ferrando.

Its about The Moor of Venice (The Moor of Venice), an integral part of gli ecatommiti (1565), written by Giovambattista Giraldi Cinzio,[2] probably having as a source the story of Cristoforo Moro – lieutenant in Cyprus, who, upon returning to Venice, in 1508, lost his wife on the journey – or that of Francesco da Sessa, nicknamed “the Moorish captain”, who, imprisoned in Cyprus between 1544 and 1545, was sent to Venice for an unspecified crime (as recorded in vol. IV of the Dictionary Letterario Bompiani).

It is not improbable that Pasolini had read Cinzio's novel, but, in realizing his project, he took advantage of the popularity that the story had acquired in the Shakespearean version. In its cinematographic adaptation, the five acts were reduced to a few scenes that summarize the plot: Iago (Totò) hates Othello (Ninetto Davoli), because the latter, instead of him, named Cassio (Franco Franchi) his lieutenant; in his revenge against the two, he involves Rodrigo (Ciccio Ingrassia), attracted by Desdemona (Laura Betti), wife of the Moorish nobleman.[3] The main characters were kept and, in addition to those already mentioned, Bianca, Cássio's lover (Adriana Asti, only a scenic presence), Brabâncio, Desdemona's father (Carlo Pisacane, who has the right to only one cue), and three soldiers. The action takes place in Venice and Cyprus, but the passage from one space to another takes place through speech,[4] as in the Elizabethan scene, where the setting did not matter, for the stage was the Theater Mundi, as pointed out by Jan Kott.

The filmmaker reduced the plot to its essentials to focus on the feeling of envy that guides Iago's actions towards Othello and on the Moor's hesitations.[5] It is not by chance that character appears on stage with his face painted green, a color that, in Italian, in addition to designating intense feelings, can refer to strong emotions, such as the one shown in the expression invidia green, in the sense of being consumed with envy.[6]

The characterization of the characters refers to the commedia dell'arte, with its fixed types – the lovers (Othello and Desdemona; Cássio and Bianca), the jealous husband (Othello), the severe father (Brabâncio), the procurer (Iago), the fool (Rodrigo) –, in which costumes, gestures , imposition of scenic speech and dramatic performance were almost always crystallized.

In the Pasolini episode, these masks are interpreted by actors who should act like puppets, since they are equipped with strings.[7] In its kinship with commedia dell'arte, in the puppet theater one also finds fixed types, often characterized as masks.[8] In this way, the director makes use of two popular forms of spectacle – which overlap – to bring his characters to life. It is interesting to note that, in terms of a more popular theater, in Italy at the end of the 1890th century, shows in which actors replaced wooden puppets were common. The writer Giovanni Verga had recorded this phenomenon in a novel written in XNUMX. Don Candeloro and Ci, among many others that he dedicated to the art of acting (which are part of the collection Don Candeloro and Ci, 1893), in which the owner of a theater talking puppets (talking puppets) is forced to adapt to the new times in order to survive:

“Now, in the small puppet theaters, characters of flesh and blood acted, the History of Garibaldi, imagine, and also those farces of jumping jack; and half-naked women sang in them, turning the stage into a dunghill. […] In order not to act for empty banks, he had gone so far as to let old customers in for free, faithful to the beautiful stories from orlando and ancient paladins [...] ".

Pasolini's talking puppets apparently have their actions determined by a manipulator (Francesco Leonetti); however, he is more someone who helps in conducting the plot than exactly a deus ex machina, the one that, in Georges Forestier's definition, by untying the knots, would allow extracting a greater meaning from what is being represented (on stage, on screen and in life),[9] as we infer from an exchange of ideas he had with the Moorish nobleman and his lieutenant. Upon hearing Othello's complaints, who cannot accept being a murderer and subjecting himself to Iago, the puppeteer says: "Perhaps because, in fact, you are the one who wants to kill Desdemona" - and, in the face of astonishment of the interlocutor, continues: “Perhaps because Desdemona likes to be killed”,[10] almost remembering that the heroine's name comes from the Greek dusdaimon, and means the unfortunate one, the one born under an evil star (as recorded in vol. VIII of the Dictionary Letterario Bompiani).

There is, therefore, a destiny to be fulfilled until the end, against which the free will of men collides. Othello, however, seems not to conform and asks: “But what is the truth? Is it what I think of myself, or what people think, or what that person inside thinks?”. And he begins to feel it, although muffled inside himself, when Iago suggests that he concentrate: “That is the truth. But, psss… he must not name her, because as soon as he names her, she is no more”. The inner truth cannot be expressed by words and, thus, each one starts to be constructed by the discourse of the others, and life (recalls Silvestra Mariniello) becomes a fiction, a fact already pointed out by Luigi Pirandello, when addressing the impossibility of exist beyond a space of social representation, as recalled by Dominique Budor.

In these backstage conversations or when Othello, offstage, watches Iago tell Rodrigo how he intends to arouse his jealousy, Pasolini distances himself from popular theatrical manifestations and dialogues with the theater of Bertolt Brecht, due to the strangeness that these unusual insertions provoke in the spectators , leading them to a critical fruition and not to an identification.

There is also the behavior of the puppets, which, when acting as in a Brechtian epic theater play, establish a distance in relation to the characters they are playing (it is the “distancing effect”, as Philippe Ivernel speaks). The director, however, is also faithful to the spirit of the English bard, if we remember that, according to Anthony Burgess, the Shakespearean actor tried “to establish an intimacy with this audience, to involve it in the play, and his soliloquies are not speeches. in which the actor pretends to be addressing himself, but intimate communications with the audience”.[11] In fact, Iago's and Othello's backstage monologues are revealing moments of what goes on inside the puppets when they stop being the characters they are playing.

And the Pasolinian episode has two audiences: the one watching the film and, inside it, the one watching the puppet theater, a participatory audience, which applauds, boos, reacts noisily to the acts of the lieutenant and the Moor and invades the stage , when he tries to kill his wife, situations in which the episode slips into slapstick comedy.[12]

In this respect, too, Pasolini would be close to Shakespeare, albeit on the other side: he lends a comedy tone to a tragic work, while the English author based his tragedy on a comic structure, as pointed out by Barbara Heliodora, when listing the elements of commedia dell'arte incorporated into the making of Othello: scenery (Venice); scene composition; characterization of the characters; constant improvisation in the face of new situations; double-talk; loss of scarf and its consequences; demoralization of the betrayed husband; unfolding of the plot, with Iago as the conductor, that is, as “responsible for the mechanical development of intrigues”, by telling “believable stories to people with greater possibilities of believing in them”.[13]

Despite the more relaxed moments, the Pasolinian episode is still tragic, as the center of the dramatic action is the protagonist's inner conflict; however, if in Othello, the tragedy “is not provoked, as in the Greek theater, by the clash between opposing forces or by the blind will of fate, but is the necessary consequence of a moment of weakness that fatally pushes to the crime and brings with it its expiation ” (according to Ferrando), in Do you sleep in the clouds?, the puppet Othello has to play her role to the end, as was predetermined, despite her revolt.

As can be deduced from the chats backstage, even without getting rid of their masks, Othello and Iago (like the other puppets) have their own thoughts, they reflect on what they are representing, although they know that their destiny is guided by a superior entity whose dictates don't always understand. Destroyed by the audience, the two puppets are thrown away and taken away by a garbage man (Domenico Modugno), while the others, lined up in the wings, lament the fate that befalls them all, for the fact that they exist, as Cássio observes desolately.

During the farewell and the transport of the dolls to the landfill, the song sung at the beginning of the episode by Modugno (author of the melody) reappears, in which Pasolini practically recovers the motif of love, translating the text into images, this time verbal. shakespearean:

“May I be damned
if I don't love her
and if it weren't like that
I wouldn't understand anything else.
all my crazy love
 the heavens blow
the heavens blow it like that.”[14]

These first lines are practically a rewrite of lines from Othello in scene 3 of act III: “May perdition take hold of my soul, but I love you! And when I no longer love you, chaos will settle once more”; “all my passionate love, this is how I blow it to the heavens…”;

“Ah, softly delicate weed
of a perfume that causes spasms.
Oh, that you had not been born!
all my crazy love
the heavens blow
the heavens blow it like that.”

The third stanza translates the following line from Othello in scene 2 of act IV: “Ah, you weed, so lovingly beautiful, so sweetly perfumed, so much that the five senses suffer before your person, I wish I had never been born!”;

“Who was robbed and smiles
steal something from the thief,
but who was robbed and cries
steal something from yourself,
so I tell you, until I smile
you will not be lost”.

In these verses, the following cues from Othello and Iago echo, respectively, in scene 3 of act III:

“What notion had I of your stolen hours of lust? I didn't see it, I didn't think about it, and it didn't hurt. I slept well each night, ate well, was happy. I couldn't find Cassio's kisses on her lips. I say this of someone who has been robbed and has not missed the stolen thing: leave him ignorant of the theft, and it won't even have been stolen. […]

A man's and a woman's good name, my dear sir, is the most personal jewel of their souls. Whoever steals my purse steals rubbish… it's something, nothing: it was mine, now it's his, and it's been the possession of thousands of people. But whoever comes to harm me in my good name will be taking away from me that which does not make him a rich person but which makes me truly poor”.

And finally:

“But those are words
that I never heard
and a broken heart
Heals by ear.
And all my crazy love
the heavens blow
the heavens blow it like that.”

Othello's heart could only rest if he, trusting in Desdemona's love (and Cassio's friendship), did not pay attention to what Iago was insinuating about her (and the lieutenant's) behavior. It is through the ear that the lieutenant poisons the Moor's spirit, to the point of making him see what he wanted the other to see. The penultimate stanza can be compared with the following lines from Iago, in the third scenes of acts I and II, respectively:

“Now, let me see: take his place and crown my will with double knavery. But how? As? Let's see: after a while, he mistreats Othello's ears, suggesting that Cassio is too intimate with his wife, that he has a suspect figure and sweet disposition... molded to make false people out of women. […]

While this honest fool pesters Desdemona with his pleas that she mend her fate, and while she, for him, begs the Moor for clemency, I shall be pouring this pestilence into our general's ears: that she wants him back in good graces. his superior to appease the lust of his body.”

The music, which marks the prologue and epilogue, frames the diegesis itself: the “birth” of a new puppet, his itinerary on the stage (of life), his death and his discovery of a greater meaning for the human adventure. By opting for representation within representation, Pasolini ends up engendering a film with a refined intertextual texture, because in addition to theatrical and cinematographic works, at the base of this project there is also the contribution of painting, with the presence of paintings by Diego Velázquez that refer to the notion of mirror image – mirror venus (venus in the mirror, 1650) [15] – and from an abysmal perspective – Las Meninas.

And so, the idea that living is a representation or consists of being “in a dream within a dream” (apparently, dreamed by someone else, by the deus ex machina of the universe), expressed bitterly by Iago backstage to console Othello, unhappy with the fact that he was different from how he imagined, gains greater consistency. The derivation of this conception of what life is – an illusion, a game of mirrors (in the words of Luiz Fernando Ramos) or the eternal contrast between the Creator and the creature (according to Bernard Sesé) – is evident: L'illusion comique (the comic illusion, 1636), by Pierre Corneille,[16], on the one hand, and, on the other, The life is dream (The life is a Dream, 1635), by Pedro Calderón de la Barca,[17] from which, in that same period, Pasolini begins to engender the piece Calderon.[18]

Less obvious, perhaps, is the derivation of the episode's title,[19] those beautiful and indecipherable clouds that Othello and Iago discover when they are thrown into the landfill, or rather, thrown into the Báratro.[20] By causing Iago to exclaim “Ah, torturous and wondrous beauty of Creation! Ah!”, the clouds represent the theophany,[21] it is the celestial goddesses who offer men “knowledge, dialectics, understanding, elevated and verbose language, the art of moving and deceiving”, as Socrates says, in the work of Aristophanes.[22] the comedy The clouds, represented for the first time in Athens in 423 BC, had served to reinforce the accusations of atheism brought against the Greek philosopher (informs Mário da Gama Kury), who would have replaced mythical gods with celestial deities, “a symbol of the extravagant and inconsistent philosophical speculations ” (as recorded in v. V of Dictionary Letterario Bompiani). Pasolini, when reading the play in reverse key to the author's proposal, makes Socrates' thought triumph [23], who had chosen three deities, “chaos, clouds and language” (in the words of Aristophanes) to preside over the destiny of men.[24]

In Shakespearean tragedy, according to Kott: “The fundamental questions, concerning the meaning or the absurdity of the world, can only be unraveled at the end of the journey. Down there, exactly, at the bottom of the abyss”. The same happens in Do you sleep in the clouds?. It Othello “it is the tragedy of man under an empty sky” (in Kott’s words), or under a “distant marble sky”, as the protagonist states, in the episode engendered by Pasolini, the characters, when faced with a sky populated by clouds, discover the meaning of the cosmic sacred and, with it, the meaning of life.

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

Originally published under the title “Pasolini in the footsteps of Shakespeare”, in the collective work Dialogue between literature and other arts.


Aristophanes. The clouds; Only for women; A god called money. Trans. Mario da Gama Kury. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1995.

AUMONT, Jacques. The rip – Do you sleep in the clouds?. Trans. Antonio Rodrigues and Rui Santana Brito. In: RODRIGUES, Antonio (org.). Pier Paolo Pasolini: the dream of one thing. Lisbon: Cinemateca Portuguesa-Museu do Cinema, 2006, p. 186-195.

Barbara Heliodora. Othello, a tragedy built on a comic structure. Theater Notebooks. Rio de Janeiro, no. 112, Jan.-Feb.-Mar. 1987, p. 1-7 [text published later in Barbara Heliodora. Speaking of Shakespeare. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 2007, p.275-285].

BIDENT, Christophe. There Realpolitik seal Shakespeare. Le Magazine Litteraire, Paris, no. 529, Mar. 2013, p. 14.

BRAMBILLA, Arturo. Nuvole. In: Bompiani letter saying of his work and I gave characters to him all the time and all his letters. Milano: Bompiani, 1948, v. V, p. 154.

BURGESS, Anthony. William Shakespeare. In: the english literature. Trans. Doubt Machado. São Paulo: Ática, 2006, p. 89-99.

CINZIO, Giovambattista Giraldi. The Moor of Venice. In: WATAGHIN, Lucia (org.). Romeo and Juliet and Other Italian Renaissance Tales. Trans. Nilson Moulin. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1996, p. 63-74.

FABRIS, Mariarosaria. Masquerade comedies. In: SCALA, Flaminio. Isabella's Madness and Other Commedia dell'Arte Comedies. Trans. Roberta Barni. São Paulo: Iluminuras, 2003, p. 13-14.

__________. A frustrated encounter. UERJ Italian Magazine, Rio de Janeiro, vol. 2, no. 2, 2011, p. 6-16.

FERRANDO, Guido. Introduce. In: SHAKESPEARE, William. Coriolanus. Firenze: Sansoni, 1954, p. V-XXXIX.

FORESTIER, Georges. Deus ex machina. In: CORVIN, Michel (org.). Dictionnaire encyclopédique du theater à travers le monde. Paris: Borders, 2008, p. 421.

FUBINI, Mario. Gli Ecatommiti. In: Bompiani letter saying of his work and I gave characters to him all the time and all his letters. Milano: Bompiani, 1947, v. III, p. 6-7.

JURKOWSKI, Henryk. A history of European puppetry from its origins to the end of the century. Lewiston-Queenstone-Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1996.

JOUBERT-LAURENCIN, Herve. Pasolini: portrait of a poet en cinéaste. Paris: Cahiers du Cinema, 1995.

KOTT, Jan. Shakespeare Notre Contemporary. Paris: Marabout, 1965.

KURY, Mario da Gama. Grades. In: Aristophanes. The clouds; Only for women; A god called money. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1995, p. 104-107.

LECOCQ, Louis; TREILHOU-BALAUDÉ, Catherine. William Shakespeare. In: CORVIN, Michel (org.). Dictionnaire encyclopédique du theater à travers le monde. Paris: Borders, 1991, p. 1255-1261.

MARINIELLO, Silvestra. Pier Paolo Pasolini. Madrid: Chair, 1999.

MORAVIA, Alberto. Attention. Milano: Bompiani, 2008.

__________. Otello e Iago ovvero Una mattina di malumore (July 1937); Sotto il segno di Baffone (Nov. 26, 1978). In: Italian cinema: recensioni and interventi 1933-1990. Milano: Bompiani, 2010, p. 1449-1453, 1171-1174.

PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. The poetry of the new cinema. Brazilian Civilization Magazine, Rio de Janeiro, vol. 1, no. 7, May 1966, p. 267-287.

PODRECCA, Vittorio. Marionette. In: Encyclopedia Italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1951, v. XXII, p. 356-357.

PLEASURE, Mario. Desdemona. In: Bompiani letter saying of his work and I gave characters to him all the time and all his letters. Milano: Bompiani, 1952, vol. VIII, p. 225.

PRAZ, Mario et al. Otello, il Moro di Venezia. In: Bompiani letter saying of his work and I gave characters to him all the time and all his letters. Milano: Bompiani, 1948, v. IV, p. 337-339.

RAMOS, Luiz Fernando. Corneille reflects on the representation of life. Folha de S. Paul, 26 Oct. 2011.

SCLIAR, Moacyr. Jealousy: normal and pathological. In: The medical look: chronicles of medicine and health. São Paulo: Agora, 2005, p. 133-135.

SESÉ, Bernard. Calderón de la Barca. In: CORVIN, Michel (org.). Dictionnaire encyclopédique du theater à travers le monde. Paris: Borders, 1991, p. 143-144.

SHAKESPEARE, William. Othello. Trans. Beatriz Viegas. Porto Alegre: L&PM, 2010.

SPEAIGHT, George. The History of the English Puppet Theater. London, Harrap, 1955.

SÜSSEKIND, Pedro. The world in the shape of a ring. In: KLEIST, Heinrich von. About the puppet theater. Rio de Janeiro: Sette Letras, 1997, p. 43-52.

VERGA, Giovanni. Don Candeloro and Ci In: All the short stories. 2 v. Milano: Mondadori, 1978, v. 2, p. 215-222.


[1] “Che cosa sono le nuvole?” should have constituted the second episode of Che cos'è il cinema? [What is cinema?] or Smandolinate [Bandolinadas, or rather, sweet and mannered poetic compositions], a film that Pasolini was unable to make. The director refers to this project, in the prologue of the episode, when focusing on the posters of the four parts that would compose it – “La terra vista dalla luna” (“The earth seen from the moon”), which he integrated Witches (ace witches, 1966), “Che cosa sono le nuvole? While the first poster, already torn up and thrown to the ground, reads “yesterday”, the others announce the shows for “today”, “tomorrow” and “soon”, respectively. The posters reproduce paintings by Diego Velázquez: “Che cosa sono le nuvole?” is a detail of Hen/Stag girls (The girls.

[2] Collection of 113 novels (and not 100, as the title, of Greek derivation, would lead you to believe), inspired by the structure of the Decameron (decameron, w. 1348-1353), by Giovanni Boccaccio. From another soap opera gli ecatommiti, Shakespeare drew comedy Measure for measure (Measure for measure, 1604) ((as recorded in v. III of Dictionary Letterario Bompiani).

[3] For example, from Act III scenes 1 and 2 were eliminated, while from Act 3 the meeting between Cassio and Desdemona was maintained, but without the presence of Emilia, Iago's wife. In the film, there is a certain interest on the part of Desdemona in Cassio's beauty and youth, but Iago's insinuations about the “betrayal” are more synthetic and are often entrusted to facial expressions or gestures. Furthermore, it is Iago and not his wife who finds the handkerchief, by chance, and gives it to Rodrigo, a character whose role becomes greater with the suppression of Emília. 

[4] It is interesting to note that, in 1966, Pasolini outlines seven tragedies, which he will end in successive years, in which he begins to expose the concept of “theater of speech” (theater of the Word), as he calls it, launching the “Manifesto for a new theater” (“Manifesto for a new theater”). By opposing both traditional and experimental theater, Pasolini, inspired by Greek tragedies, proposes that, in order to value the text, the scenic action is practically annulled, so that the Word can be consubstantiated through the actor. As Alberto Moravia exposes, when reviewing a 1978 television series, Greek tragedies, alongside Shakespearean plays, are the opposite of the dramatic texts of Luigi Pirandello or Jean-Paul Sartre, based on action and not on writing: “ Here everything happens in writing; the representation is not intended to complete the text, but only to interpret it”. Christophe Bident points out that it is important to listen to the text, leaving all the meanings open, in order to embody and build the imagery of a work.

[5] “The real creator of the tragedy is Iago, without whom Othello would continue to live in peace with his Desdemona. But the first condition for tragedy to happen, that is, criticism, is the passion of the Moor”, underlines Moravia in a text from the 1930s. the jealousy he harbors for his superior, a fact that reveals an attitude of “dependence, passivity, sterility”.

[6] By drawing a parallel between Iago and the servant of the commedia dell'arte (Zanni, Harlequin or Briguela), rather serving her own interests than those of her master, Barbara Heliodora recalls the description of the “dark and cruel Brighella”, made in 1956 by Thelma Niklaus, which coincides with Pasolini's characterization of Iago: “his mask, of a poor yellowish green, gave him the cynical expression of a man for whom life had no more surprises… He was the go-between, the braggart, the spy, surreptitious and sinister in his wanderings, never boding no good to anyone who came into contact with him, always ready to sell his honor, his master... He took savage pleasure in defeating friend or foe , in bringing trouble, in committing crimes.” According to Aumont, in characterizing Iago, with his “face painted green, topped by an immense black hat”, Pasolini would have been inspired by paintings by Masolino or Paolo Uccello. We must not forget, however, that, in the piece itself, there is reference to the color green. Moacyr Scliar, when asserting that “jealousy and envy are flour from the same bag”, recalls that Iago defines jealousy as “the monster with green eyes”, an expression that the bard of Avon had already used in The Merchant of Venice (The merchant of Venice, w. 1596) to designate envy.

[7] As Vittorio Podrecca points out, the puppet theater repertoire, by incorporating works by great writers, including Shakespeare, helped to popularize them.

[8] George Speaight and Henryk Jurkowski note that, in commedia dell'arte, acted either actors or puppets at the same time.

[9] Moravia, in the novel Attention (1965), even identifies the deus ex machina with death, which is consistent with Pasolinian theories about cinema. In the essay “Il cinema di poetry” (“The cinema of poetry”, 1965), Pasolini (1966) states that, in a film, life is reproduced in the long shot, whose continuous flow of images is interrupted by the cut, this cut which, however, gives it meaning, just as death gives meaning to the human trajectory.

[10] The lines were taken directly from the Pasolinian episode.

[11] It goes without saying that Shakespeare was an important reference for Brecht, as observed by Edelcio Mostaço.

[12] For some critics, including Aumont, the invasion of the stage by the public would be a resumption of what happens in the puppet theater in the second episode of Paisa (paisa, 1946), by Roberto Rossellini, to whom Pasolini would be paying homage. Hervé Joubert-Laurencin points out, as a matrix of these sequences in both films, the tenth chapter of The adventures of Pinocchio (The adventures of Pinocchio, 1883), by Carlo Collodi, in which the wooden puppet goes to watch a puppet show. These, when they recognize in Pinocchio a similar one, mess up the representation and the puppet, after going up on stage, is taken in triumph.

[13] The author also recalls that the Elizabethan playwrights were well aware of the commedia dell'arte. Shakespeare, who must have had occasion to see this kind of spectacle in 1602, paid his tribute to Italian theatrical art also in the comedies he wrote.

[14] The lyrics of the song, written by Pasolini, were taken directly from “Che cosa sono le nuvole?”. We reproduce the original version: “Ch'io pode esser dannato / se non ti amo / e se così non foi / non capirei più niente. / Tutto il mio folle amore / lo soffia il cielo / lo soffia il cielo così. // Ah, malerba soavemente delicata / di un profumo che dà gli spasimi. / Ah, ah, tu non fossi mai nata! / Tutto il mio folle amore / lo soffia il cielo / lo soffia il cielo così. // Il derubato che smile / ruba qualcosa al ladro, / ma il derubato che piange / ruba qualcosa a sestesso, / perciò io ti dico, finché Sorriderò / tu non sarai perduta. // Ma queste son parole / che non ho mai sentito / e un cuore, un cuore affranto / si cura con l'udito. / E tutto il mio folle amore / lo soffia il cielo / lo soffia il cielo così”.

[15] This work is glimpsed in the cabin of the truck that transports the two puppets, in the epilogue of the episode.

[16] Ramos recalls that, in this play, Corneille approaches Shakespeare and dialogues with the commedia dell'arte.

[17] We must not forget that, albeit with some parsimony, Shakespeare also resorted to the abysmal perspective. Furthermore, he made use of the “involuntary spectacle”, of “manipulation”, that is, of the “evil inverse of illusion”, which in Othello, for example, leads the protagonist to take the love happiness expressed by Cassio as the ultimate proof of Desdemona's infidelity , according to Louis Lecocq and Catherine Treilhou-Balaudé.

[18] For Joubert-Laurencin, in Calderon (1967), naming all the protagonists of Las Meninas, Pasolini demonstrates not only that he knows Velázquez's work well, but also that he has read Words and things (The words and things, 1966), in which Michel Foucault analyzed the painting. According to Mariniello, the director makes use of reading the work of the French philosopher also in “Che cosa sono le nuvole?”.

[19] Joubert-Laurencin's hypothesis that the title of the episode would have been chosen because it allowed establishing a relationship between the clouds in the film and the sky in the song does not seem at all likely, in addition to being quite simplistic. In the blue painted blue (more known as Flying), Modugno's worldwide success, in 1958. Furthermore, the composer had already collaborated with Pasolini, when he sang the credits of Uccellacci e uccellini (hawks and birds, 1966), in which, in addition to technical data and the definition of the genre of the work, he commented on the interpreters of the two protagonists, Totò and Ninetto Davoli.

[20] Precipice located in Athens, on which those condemned to death were thrown, as explained by Kury. According to Joubert-Laurencin, this sequence, with the two inert bodies being transported in a truck and then thrown into a ditch, would refer to Auschwitz, an interpretation that is somewhat forced.

[21] It is as if the puppets managed to return to a state of innocence, which, according to Pedro Süssekind, man lost “from the moment he becomes aware of himself, which puts a supposed gaze on each action that judges whether it it is right or wrong, whether or not it should be done”, as can be seen from the backstage conversations. The “transcendent silence” that is about to replace words, that is, that “state of wonder” (as Paulo Hebmüller defines it) before the supreme work, which closes the episode, is linked to the Catholic culture within which the Marxist Pasolini was raised. The director will deepen the question of divine manifestation in Theorem (1968) and the eponymous novel that was derived from the film. 

[22] In this regard, Aumont proposes another reading, when he compares the episode to Francesco Giullare di Dio (Francis, Herald of God, 1949), “with its four or five planes of clouds in molten and yours molten to the final black, which is an absolute. Rossellini's clouds were heaven, they were the visible sign of the invisible; make one molten for black people was to close the eyelids of the cinema so that we could only see Paradise. Pasolini brings us back to earth, to the only world that exists, forever. From then on, the conclusion of his films will always be abrupt, they will always leave us in the middle of things, of the poignant beauty of creation, of the cruelty of the world with which a bit of innocence harmonizes”. The comparison between the two films, however, seems to point out that Pasolini followed in Rossellini's wake.

[23] Defender of traditional common sense, Aristophanes did not accept the subtleties of Socratic dialectic and rhetoric (as recorded in v. V of the Dictionary Letterario Bompiani).

[24] As we mentioned in note 4, it is during this period that Pasolini returns to Greek dramaturgy, an interest that becomes explicit in the plays and films produced until the end of the 1960s.

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