Pasolini, Pier Paolo (pyĕr päˈōlō päsōlēˈnē) [key], 1922–75, Italian writer and film director. A former Roman Catholic and a Marxist, Pasolini brought to his work a combination of religious and social consciousness. His early works, including the novel A Violent Life (1957; tr. 1985) and the first film he directed, Accatone (1961), deal with the grim effects of poverty and squalor. His other films include Mamma Roma (1962), The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), Oedipus Rex (1967), and Teorema (1968). His later films, imagistic and erotic adaptations of classical literature in which the sacred and the profane mingle, include The Decameron (1970), The Canterbury Tales (1972), and Arabian Nights (1974). His final work, Salò (1977), based on a Marquis de Sade novel, 120 Days of Sodom, is set in Fascist Italy, filled with depictions of sexual cruelty, and generated immense controversy. Shortly after the completion of Salò, Pasolini was murdered under violent and mysterious circumstances by two street hustlers.
See biographies by P. Friedrich and E. Siciliano (both: 1982); N. Naldini, ed., The Letters of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Vol. I, 1940–1954 (1992); studies by B. Allen (1982), N. Greene (1990), P. Rumble and B. Testa, ed. (1994), S. Rohdie (1995), D. Ward (1995), R. S. C. Gordon (1996), P. Rumble (1996), Z. G. Baranski, ed. (1999), R. Chiesi et al. (2006), J. D. Rhodes (2007), C. Ryan-Scheutz (2007), and R. Chiesi and A. Mancini, ed. (2008).