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This article is taken from PN Review 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

Lunatics & Poets Mark Finch

THE first International Poetry Festival took place at Castelporziano, a beach near Rome-took place, that is, in a manner rather different from what the organisers originally envisaged. Andrea Andermann records the unexpected violence in Lunatics, Lovers and Poets, first seen in England at the 1983 London Film Festival. Ostensibly a documentary, the film features images of bohemian delinquency and thus outraged many Italian television viewers; critics at Banff awarded the Grand Prix in praise of the film's uncertain relation to real events ('It's all true,' claims Andermann). Moving beyond this blur of scandal and bafflement, one arrives at a terse, efficacious work; with a seeming casualness, Lunatics, Lovers and Poets details the tension between contemporary poetry and its audience. This tension is articulated by a tightness of metaphor which perhaps only the devices of cinema can sustain (think of Eisenstein's theory of montage): two disparate images collide and produce a third effect solely and precisely in the spectator's mind). The film juxtaposes events at the festival with peculiarly rhapsodic shots of an offshore oil tanker disaster, and nervous pictures of Yevgeni Yevtushenko's obituary for Pasolini at the cite of his death. These three locations are forced together chronologically, geographically, and by a regret for the crashing of giants.

Amongst all the members of contemporary Italian cultural production, Pasolini most clearly represents 'the troubled Italy of recent years', according to his close friend Andermann; his image contains a conflict between repulsion and attraction to violence-and results in a ...


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