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Trilogy of Life (The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, Arabian Nights) (The Criterion Collection)

The Criterion Collection

DVD | Box Set

4.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In the early 1970s, the great Italian poet, philosopher, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom) brought to the screen a trio of masterpieces of premodern world literature—Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and The Thousand and One Nights (often known as The Arabian Nights)—and in doing so created his most uninhibited and extravagant work, which he titled his Trilogy of Life. In this brazen and bawdy triptych, the director set out to challenge consumer capitalism and celebrate the uncorrupted human body while commenting on contemporary sexual and religious mores and hypocrisies. His scatological humor and rough-hewn sensuality leave all modern standards of decency behind; these are physical, provocative, and wildly entertaining films, all extraordinarily designed by Dante Ferretti (Hugo) and featuring evocative music by Ennio Morricone (Days of Heaven).

The Decameron Pasolini weaves together stories from Giovanni Boccaccio’s fourteenth-century moral tales in this picturesque free-for-all. The Decameron explores the delectations and dark corners of an earlier and, as the filmmaker saw it, less compromised time. Among the chief delights are a young man’s exploits with a gang of grave robbers, some randy nuns who sin with a strapping gardener, and Pasolini’s appearance as a pupil of the painter Giotto, at work on a massive fresco. One of the director’s most popular films, The Decameron, trans­posed to Naples from Boccaccio’s Florence, is a cutting takedown of the pieties surrounding religion and sex.

1971

  • 111 minutes
  • Color
  • Monaural
  • In Italian with English subtitles
  • 1.85:1 aspect ratio

    The Canterbury Tales Eight of Geoffrey Chaucer’s lusty tales come to life on-screen in Pasolini’s gutsy and delirious The Canterbury Tales, which was shot in England and offers a remarkably earthy re-creation of the medieval era. From the story of a nobleman struck blind after marrying a much younger and ultimately promiscuous bride to a climactic trip to a hell populated by friars and demons (surely one of the most outrageously conceived and realized sequences ever committed to film), this is an unendingly imaginative work of merry blasphemy, framed by Pasolini’s portrayal of Chaucer himself.

    1972

  • 111 minutes
  • Color
  • Monaural
  • In Italian with English subtitles
  • 1.85:1 aspect ratio

    Arabian Nights Pasolini traveled to Africa, India, and the Middle East to realize this ambitious cinematic treatment of a handful of the stories from the legendary The Thousand and One Nights. This is not the fairy-tale world of Scheherazade or Aladdin or Ali Baba—instead, the director focuses on the more erotic tales, ones of desire, betrayal, and atonement, framed by the story of a young man’s quest to reconnect with his beloved slave girl. Full of lustrous sets and costumes and stunning location photography, Arabian Nights is a fierce and joyous exploration of human sensuality.

    1974

  • 130 minutes
  • Color
  • Monaural
  • In Italian with English subtitles
  • 1.85:1 aspect ratio


  • Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restorations of all three films
  • New visual essays by film scholars Patrick Rumble and Tony Rayns on The Decameron and Arabian Nights, respectively
  • New interviews with art director Dante Ferretti and composer Ennio Morricone about their work with Pasolini, and with film scholar Sam Rohdie on The Canterbury Tales
  • The Lost Body of Alibech (2005), a forty-five-minute documentary by Roberto Chiesi about a lost sequence from The Decameron
  • The Secret Humiliation of Chaucer (2006), a forty-seven-minute documentary by Chiesi about The Canterbury Tales
  • Via Pasolini, a documentary in which Pasolini discusses his views on language, film, and modern society
  • Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Form of the City (1974), a sixteen-minute documentary by Pasolini and Paolo Burnatto about the ancient Italian cities Orte and Sabaudia
  • Deleted scenes from Arabian Nights, with transcriptions of pages from the original script
  • Pasolini-approved English-dubbed track for The Canterbury Tales
  • Trailers
  • New English subtitle translations
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Colin MacCabe; Pasolini’s 1975 article “Trilogy of Life Rejected”; excerpts from Pasolini’s Berlin Film Festival press conference for The Canterbury Tales; and a report from the set of Arabian Nights by critic Gideon Bachmann

  • Product details

    • Actors: Pier Paolo Pasolini
    • Directors: Pier Paolo Pasolini
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: Italian
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Number of discs: 4
    • Rated:
      NR
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: November 13, 2012
    • Run Time: 352 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B008Y5OXB0
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,520 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?


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