Dark Fragments: Contrasting Corporealities in Pasolini’s La ricotta
Abstract: The short film La ricotta (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1963) tells the story of Stracci, an extra working on a film of the life of Christ, which is presented in part via tableaux vivants of Mannerist paintings. Pasolini’s film is replete with formal, stylistic and narrative binaries. In this article, I examine a particularly emphatic binary in the film in the form of the abstract, ethereal corporeality of the Mannerist paintings versus the raw and bawdy corporeality of Stracci. I show that through the reenactment of the paintings and their literal embodiment, Pasolini creates a rapprochement and, ultimately, a reversal between the divine forms created by the Mannerists and Stracci’s unremitting immanence, which, I argue, is allied to the carnivalesque and the cinematic body of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. I examine how Pasolini gradually deposes the Mannerists, and thus the art-historical excesses and erotic compulsion he feels towards the crucifixion, substituting in their place the corporeal form of Stracci in all its baseness and profanity.