“Pigpen/Pigsty/La Porcile” is a detailed politico-philosophical statement in visual images about the sad state of what could be a moral evolution of the human specie. The film consists of two parts echoing one another. One depicts the destiny of a group of young cannibals surviving on the periphery of medieval country life, while the other (connected with the first through parallel montage) represents the life of a wealthy family in post-WWII Germany. Pasolini compares the ordeals of the medieval bums mad from hunger, with that of the son of a leading German corporate profit-maker, and his fiancée. His juxtaposition of the two historical periods produces astonishing results. The young leader of the local cannibals and son of the wealthy businessman, appear like brothers, even like twins by destiny.

With unique images Pasolini sculpts the very logic of his medieval and modern young heroes’ intuitive perception of the reality, and explains how cannibalism (in the medieval part of the film), and bestiality of the son of the modern financial magnate come into existence. The director depicts these deviations not as “naturalistic” phenomena for the technicians of psychiatric diagnosis to brood about, but as a result of attempts by these two major characters to make sense of the world that surrounds them – each spontaneously metaphorizes his understanding of the reality, one into his cannibalism and the other into his bestiality. In other words, their perversions are not reflection of their psychology as such or their “genes” but are results of their intellectual function that makes metaphors of their surrounding world and human relations in it (instead of just imitating it/adapting to it) by their very behavior.

Pasolini’s representation of the two types of grand-scale businessmen in modern tale – the more traditional (trying to take into consideration the human and natural environment of their entrepreneurship), and the purely instrumental one (oriented only on profit by any price), is shocking in its clairvoyance – by having predicted what we today observe in Europe and US: morbid growth of profit-making practices neglecting concern for its social and environmental costs and consequences.

Director’s comparison of how differently language was used in the medieval Europe and today is informing and stimulating. Before language was a tool of understanding reality and communicating with others, but today language is used… instead of living while everyday life is instrumentalized by permanent calculation.

The exceptional performances of Pierre Clementi, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Anne Wiazemsky, Ugo Tognazzi, Ninetto Davoli and Alberto Lionello are character-, not circumstance-oriented. This style of acting is not suitable for passive/immediate identification of the audience with the personages that usually gives the viewers a lot of easy, cheap and empty pleasure. The actors of “Pigpen”, on the other hand, discover their characters’ unique reactions even on seemingly trivial situations.

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Although crime is a crime, still, when crimes are result of the lack of necessities for survival, or extreme material or spiritual deprivations, it’s easier to understand them than when they are based on the need for luxury. The leader of a medieval gang of cannibals, whom we see in this shot, was tormented for years by chronic hunger. In the wake of his transgression he discovered a certain solemn pathos of violating the law which covers up indifference of society towards those who find themselves destitute and abandoned. In other words, behind his crime is hidden a political protest.

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The wealthiest among today’s transgressors aren’t those who are deprived of basic necessities of life, but those who commit crimes out of a pathological need for extra-wealth and/or because of their megalomania. Mr. Klotz, whom we see here, is the wealthiest man in Europe…

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… Klotz and his economic rival Mr. Herdhitze made a financial deal which includes sacrificing Mr. Klotz’ son as a condition of merging of their enterprises

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Mr. Klotz’ son Julian is not a cannibal, but his perversion is an unconscious psychological reaction on the moral bestiality of people like his father and his rival/ partner in business.

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Julian meets the girl of his age (from a family comparable in wealth and social standing with Julian’s), but for Julian and Ida it is very difficult to establish emotional rapport with each other – Julian’s horrifying secret stands in between them…

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…as a kind of anti-mission of his life – to prevent him from human happiness because he “doesn’t have a right to it” – his parents’ (and people like them) moral monstrosity creates in Julian the utopian attempt to redeem them by his self-condemnation.

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Julian was sacrificed by his father with the agreement of his mother to save themselves from social scandal and double their wealth empire.

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Julian was killed but his murder was professionally covered up – masked as an accident in the pigsty where Julian was, officially, been eaten by the pigs. The simpleminded (perceiving the world through their imagination) peasants working for Klotz/Herdhitze became the carriers of this absurd story to the people. Pasolini emphasizes how pop-myths are created to cover up the real crimes and make the unbearable life of the poor people less unbearable to make them continue to serve interests of financial elite.

Posted Dec 12 2012 –   Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Pigpen/Pigsty/Il Porcile” (1969) – Two Tales of “Moral Progress” in Human History as a Study of Cognitive Operation of “Metaphorizing the Essence”  by Acting-Out Politics