Teorema


1h 38m 1969
Teorema

Brief Synopsis

The various members of a middle-class Milanese household are deeply affected by the arrival, and eventual departure, of a stranger.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Apr 1969
Production Company
Aetos Film
Distribution Company
Continental Distributing, Inc.
Country
Italy
Location
Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Teorema by Pier Paolo Pasolini (Milan, 1968).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White, Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

A wealthy Milanese family is transformed by the visit of a mysterious stranger, an irresistibly attractive engineering student who pliantly satisfies his hosts' sexual needs, gratifying in turn maid, son, mother, daughter, and father. When a telegram arrives the guest departs in a taxi, and the abandoned family experiences a terrible vacuum. The humble housemaid returns to her native village, where she fasts, prays, levitates, and is venerated as a saint. In search of a surrogate for the guest, the proper matron sleeps with several young workers, and finally seeks solace in church. The daughter, now catatonic, is admitted to a hospital, while the son becomes an artist who, obsessed with art's absurdity, urinates on his own paintings. The industrialist father gives his factory to the workers, divests himself of clothing publicly, and wanders naked into an arid wilderness.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Apr 1969
Production Company
Aetos Film
Distribution Company
Continental Distributing, Inc.
Country
Italy
Location
Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Teorema by Pier Paolo Pasolini (Milan, 1968).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White, Color (Eastmancolor)

Articles

Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema on DVD


At a bourgeois, nameless Italian household in the country, a handsome stranger (Terence Stamp) arrives during a party and draws the attention of each family member: the factory overseer patriarch (Massimo Girotti), the elegant and icy wife (Silvana Mangano), the young daughter (Anne Wiazemsky), the sexually curious son (Andres Jose Cruz Soublette), and a frumpy maid (Laura Betti). Immediately the stranger moves into the son's room and proceeds to seduce everyone around him, awakening emotions and neuroses which had long laid dormant. However, his departure proves just as abrupt, leaving his conquests floundering to proceed with their lives once their eyes have been opened.

As one might gather from the title (which means "Theorem"), this key film from Pier Paolo Pasolini is more concerned with philosophical concerns than traditional movie "entertainment," and along with the similarly "empty" films of Michelangelo Antonioni, this became one of the major art house favorites of the 1960s. The casting of British heartthrob Stamp in the lead role was a wise move, as his natural magnetism grounds a film that otherwise threatens to go drifting off into the stratosphere like Betti's religious airborne flight in the third act.

It's not difficult to regard the film as Pasolini's intellectual response to domestic transformation chamber pieces like Boudu Saved from Drowning or My Man Godfrey, though here the events are played less for comedy and more for sheer, outlandish absurdity, dappled with a little frontal nudity and promiscuity to ensure international box office attention. Similarly, much later films like American Beauty seized on many of the same concepts, proving that some things never change by ultimately drawing the same conclusion found here: as much as we would like to keep our lives tidy and ordered, a catalyst will ultimately upend everything eventually. How a person responds to change, whether in panic or ecstasy, reveals the ultimate nature of one's character.

As with most Italian films of the period, Teorema was shot without sound due to the international nature of the cast. An Italian-looped version with English subtitles was seen most widely in English-speaking territories, though the English language dub is, surprisingly, a very rewarding experience in itself. There's not much dialogue here to begin with (less than 1000 words, according to the press materials), but hearing Stamp's natural English voice is a major asset and contradicts the common wisdom that this is a film best seen in Italian. Koch Lorber's pricey anamorphic DVD looks quite fine but retains only the Italian track, with optional English subtitles; anyone interested in the alternate language version should check out the Italian DVD, which retains the English dub for its non-anamorphic but otherwise equally attractive transfer. The mono audio sounds fine and does justice to the very minimal audio, which features a barely-there Ennio Morricone soundtrack whose two catchy pop compositions are all but lost in the mix. Though none of the European DVDs offer anything in the way of extras, the Koch disc includes a 53-minute featurette, "Pasolini and Death: A Purely Intellectual Thriller," in which one of his collaborators awkwardly expounds in Italian (with English voiceover) about the director's life and career without offering much that will convert the uninitiated. For a more rewarding video resource on the director, try to track down the one-hour documentary "Whoever Says the Truth Must Die," which offers considerable insight and will make this film far more easy to appreciate.

For more information about Teorema, visit Koch Lorber Films. To order Teorema, go to TCM Shopping.

by Nathaniel Thompson
Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema On Dvd

Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema on DVD

At a bourgeois, nameless Italian household in the country, a handsome stranger (Terence Stamp) arrives during a party and draws the attention of each family member: the factory overseer patriarch (Massimo Girotti), the elegant and icy wife (Silvana Mangano), the young daughter (Anne Wiazemsky), the sexually curious son (Andres Jose Cruz Soublette), and a frumpy maid (Laura Betti). Immediately the stranger moves into the son's room and proceeds to seduce everyone around him, awakening emotions and neuroses which had long laid dormant. However, his departure proves just as abrupt, leaving his conquests floundering to proceed with their lives once their eyes have been opened. As one might gather from the title (which means "Theorem"), this key film from Pier Paolo Pasolini is more concerned with philosophical concerns than traditional movie "entertainment," and along with the similarly "empty" films of Michelangelo Antonioni, this became one of the major art house favorites of the 1960s. The casting of British heartthrob Stamp in the lead role was a wise move, as his natural magnetism grounds a film that otherwise threatens to go drifting off into the stratosphere like Betti's religious airborne flight in the third act. It's not difficult to regard the film as Pasolini's intellectual response to domestic transformation chamber pieces like Boudu Saved from Drowning or My Man Godfrey, though here the events are played less for comedy and more for sheer, outlandish absurdity, dappled with a little frontal nudity and promiscuity to ensure international box office attention. Similarly, much later films like American Beauty seized on many of the same concepts, proving that some things never change by ultimately drawing the same conclusion found here: as much as we would like to keep our lives tidy and ordered, a catalyst will ultimately upend everything eventually. How a person responds to change, whether in panic or ecstasy, reveals the ultimate nature of one's character. As with most Italian films of the period, Teorema was shot without sound due to the international nature of the cast. An Italian-looped version with English subtitles was seen most widely in English-speaking territories, though the English language dub is, surprisingly, a very rewarding experience in itself. There's not much dialogue here to begin with (less than 1000 words, according to the press materials), but hearing Stamp's natural English voice is a major asset and contradicts the common wisdom that this is a film best seen in Italian. Koch Lorber's pricey anamorphic DVD looks quite fine but retains only the Italian track, with optional English subtitles; anyone interested in the alternate language version should check out the Italian DVD, which retains the English dub for its non-anamorphic but otherwise equally attractive transfer. The mono audio sounds fine and does justice to the very minimal audio, which features a barely-there Ennio Morricone soundtrack whose two catchy pop compositions are all but lost in the mix. Though none of the European DVDs offer anything in the way of extras, the Koch disc includes a 53-minute featurette, "Pasolini and Death: A Purely Intellectual Thriller," in which one of his collaborators awkwardly expounds in Italian (with English voiceover) about the director's life and career without offering much that will convert the uninitiated. For a more rewarding video resource on the director, try to track down the one-hour documentary "Whoever Says the Truth Must Die," which offers considerable insight and will make this film far more easy to appreciate. For more information about Teorema, visit Koch Lorber Films. To order Teorema, go to TCM Shopping. by Nathaniel Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Opened in Rome in 1968; running time: 98 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1968

Released in United States 1991

Released in United States May 1990

Released in United States September 6, 1968

Laura Betti won the Best Actress Award at the 1968 Venice Film Festival.

Shown at "Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes of a Poet" at Museum of Modern Art in New York City May 19 & 25, 1990.

Shown at "Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes of a Poet" at UCLA Film and Television Archive September 27 - December 20, 1991.

Shown at the Venice Film Festival September 6, 1968.

Re-released in Paris August 8, 1990.

Released in United States May 1990 (Shown at "Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes of a Poet" at Museum of Modern Art in New York City May 19 & 25, 1990.)

Released in United States 1991 (Shown at "Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes of a Poet" at UCLA Film and Television Archive September 27 - December 20, 1991.)

Released in United States 1968 (Laura Betti won the Best Actress Award at the 1968 Venice Film Festival.)

Released in United States September 6, 1968 (Shown at the Venice Film Festival September 6, 1968.)