From Bethlehem to Basilicata : framing Pasolini from Palestine

White, Robert (2022) From Bethlehem to Basilicata : framing Pasolini from Palestine. Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies, 10(1), pp. 59-76. ISSN (print) 2047-7368


Sopralluoghi in Palestina (Location Hunting in Palestine) (1965) documents Pasolini’s search for an archaic, biblical world within which to set Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) (1964). Pasolini’s search in Palestine/Israel was eventually abandoned, with The Gospel According to St. Matthew being filmed in and around Basilicata. Pasolini’s documentary has proven a fertile object with which Palestinian artists have conducted dialogues. Following Edward Said, this article reads the documentary ‘contrapuntally’ ‐ as a text to be resituated and responded to ‐ through two responses: Ayreen Anastas’s Pasolini Pa* Palestine (2005) and Basma Alsharif’s Ouroboros (2017). Examining Alsharif’s engagement with Carlo Levi’s Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli) (1945), the article interrogates Pasolini’s and Levi’s Basilicata and Anastas’ and Alsharif’s responses from Palestine, arguing that the contrapuntal movement between these four works constitutes a ‘dialectical’ cinematic image of Palestine ‐ between image and reality, the archaic and the contemporary.

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