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Whoever Says The Truth Shall Die
A Film About Pier Paolo Pasolini
Directed by Philip Bregstein
Black and white
Italian, French, English with English Subtitles
Facets Video 2006
If you are a fan of Italian cinema, controversial movies, Pier Paolo Pasolini, or perhaps even conspiracy theories Whoever Says The Truth Shall Die on DVD is right up your alley. This is a documentary film about Pasolini and the mystery surrounding the true circumstances of and motives for the death of Italian film director (and poet) Pasolini in 1975. Philip Bregstein does an excellent and informed job of trying to find the truth and manages at the same time to put together an interesting cinematic documentary film.
Bregstein opens Whoever Says The Truth Shall Die with a clip from an interview he had done with Pasolini. In this clip Pasolini says you could make seven hundred documentaries about the same subject, he uses the Kennedy assassination as an example, and get seven hundred different results. Only a detective, he says, could find the truth by taking segments from each documentary.
Pier Paolo Pasolini was a famous poet, novelist, essayist, and provocateur Italian film director whose controversial films included The Canterbury Tales -writer–, The Decameron, Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom, Arabian Nights (all of which were to put it politely bawdy movies with plenty of nudity) and The Gospel According to St. Mathew (of which a long clip is included here), said to be the best Jesus movie ever made. Pasolini favored down to earth, gritty movies about real people. The official line is he was murdered in 1975 after an encounter with a male prostitute went bad. It was not the first time Pasolini's troubles were pegged on his homosexuality.
Bregstein has Alberto Moravia make a case for Pasolini as a great Italian poet before exploring his work as a movie writer and director and slowly moves towards the heart of his subject: the mystery around Pasolini's death. From poet and novelist, Pasolini became a scriptwriter and then begins making his own movies. Many of his movies were about myths and fables, and many of his movies were both praised and detested at the same time by various segments of the Catholic church. His attacks on the Christian Democratic Party, which he believed responsible for all the ills of the world, was unrelenting and may be tied to his death.
The documentary only starts looking into Pasolini's death in the last fifteen minutes or so of the film. A lot of it is based on a book by Laura Betti on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the filmmaker's death and how the Italian judiciary kept dropping the ball. Unfortunately, a lot of this mystery is unsolved and based solely on the interest in the case of a couple of his journalist friends.
Whoever Says The Truth Shall Die is a double-barreled titled as it refers both to Pasolini who died because he was telling the truth about Italian society and politics and to his supposed killer who was threatened with death if he told the truth about what really happened when Pasolini was killed. A few interesting points are made, some very explicit pictures of Pasolini's bloody body are shown, but, in the end, not much is brought to true light. IN the end, all seem to agree the Italian film director and artist was murdered by persons unknown to silence him and as a warning to others but that is all you get. Perhaps this is because this documentary was made in 1981 and the case was reopened again in 2005.
Director Bregstein makes an interesting choice by closing his documentary with a gritty crucifixion scene from Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Mathew.
Whoever Says The Truth Shall Die is the usual high-quality release from Facets Video. The Facets Cine-Notes booklet by Gino Moliterno and Alissa Simon that comes with the DVD is exemplary and should be sent to all the major studios as an example of how to do a booklet the right way. There are, however, a couple of times in this documentary where the subtitles are questionable as to their grammatical correctness in English or translated too literally, but nothing that gets in the way of your enjoying this DVD.
Other extras include audio interview clips with directors Philo Bregstein and Bernardo Bertolucci.