a homage to pasolini's film theorY / video
LONG TAKE VS EDITING Pasolini imagined cinema as an endless sequence shot, a “diffused” and “continuous” vision, a reproduction of reality as unbroken and fluid as reality.
The sequence shot is widely considered one of the most realistic ways to represent reality, even though it can also reveal the insignificance of life as life.
Pasolini compared the long take to life - an undetermined stream - because it is always in the present time like the reality.
By contrast, the editing is like death because it makes the present become past by a process of coordination which has been created by a narrator.
It is absolutely crucial that we die, because, as long as we are alive, we lack meaning.
‘Death makes a rapid editing of our life: it chooses the crucial moments (that will never be modified by other possible opposite moments), and it puts them in order, making our endless, unstable and uncertain present (..) a clear, stable, certain past.’
This video shows a comparison in split screen of the long take at the end of The Passenger (1975) by Michelangelo Antonioni (Pasolini never shot a long take in his life) and the same sequence in a version I edited myself.
The video aims at pointing out the differences in terms of time and the perception of it in the storytelling.
SPLICES In the analysis of cinema, one has to consider the spatial rhythm, which concerns the space in the frame and the relationship of the space of a shot to the spaces of the shots it precedes or follows. This spatial examination should also be thought of in temporal terms (both the duration of the shots themselves and the duration of the shots in relation to the others).
Pasolini imagined a sort of graph in which it is possible to describe synthetically all the durations - of the shots and of the relationships among them - and the “negative durations” - the splices - in a film. In the process of editing, the editor-narrator attaches the shots to each other with “splices”.
‘It is in this incalculably minimal fraction of time that we should calculate “negative durations”, that is, those which do not exist; either as audiovisual material representation or as mathematicorhythmic (sic) abstraction.’ ‘To sum up, splices are ‘spatial- temporal exclusions between spatial- temporal inclusions’ (the shots). ’
With the sequences shown in the last video I tried to make splices visible by using different means, for example a timecode that starts from zero everytime there is a cut.
It is a video based on the work by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), one of the best known Italian filmmakers and intellectuals. He wrote several essays and articles about cinema and audio-visual language which should be placed in the context of the mid-1960s semiotics studies. The video is the result of the attempt to conceptually illustrate and interpret Pasolini’s film theory which is defined in the essays Pasolini collected in the book Empirismo Eretico (1972). These essays constitute the basis and the inspiration of this piece of moving image. The video aims at making the viewer reflect upon the moving image and its techniques. It is structured in four distinct and autonomous parts. Each one refers to four different key-concepts (kinemes, modes of qualification, long take versus editing, and splices) and it is made of the same sequence shown in different variants. In order to interpret Pasolini’s ideas, many tools and techniques have been used: sound, time code, words on the screen, superimposition, split screens, etc.The sequences come from films by Pasolini, except for the part about the long take, which is from The Passenger by Antonioni (Pasolini never shot a long take in his life).
KINEMES Pasolini believed that cinema was the written language of reality, which is the language of actions that cinema reproduces. The entire life, in the frame of all its actions, is a natural and living cinema. It is the same that the oral language in its natural and biological moment.Cinema is ‘the ‘“written’” moment of a natural and total language, that is the acting of reality.’ All this implies that cinema and reality share the same code and the same structure. They speak the same language. Thus, Reality is a language, whose words are things. Before he reached this radical point, Pasolini tried to define the features of the language of cinema (considered as the langue - system, according to the definition by Saussure) by comparing it with the verbal language by using a semiotic approach. He thought that the language of cinema was double articulated like the natural languages.Phonemes and morphemes (the signifier and the signified) characterise the verbal language, like the objects, forms and real acts do in the shots. Pasolini named them “kinemes” and “monemes”, respectively. The minimal unit of the language of cinema are the different real objects that compose the shot.’The video Kinemes consists of three of the experiments which have done in order to achieve the purpose of isolating distinctively the objects, acts, and people in the frame during the time in a sequence from I Fiori delle Mille e Una Notte by Pasolini (A Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights, 1974).

MODES OF QUALIFICATION As well as the spoken-written language, the audio-visual language has got its grammar, that fishes kinemes out of reality in a vertical flow. According to Pasolini, the “cine-grammar” is characterised by different ways: reproduction, substantivation, qualification, and verbalisation, which he used to analyse sequences from movies by Antonioni, Bertolucci and Godard, with the purpose of proving his theory that cinema is the written language of reality. In the video Modes of qualification, it has been tried to envisage the kind of analysis Pasolini did by only considering a specific way of film qualification: the distance between the camera and the things in the shot frames, which is usually described with the “shot scale” that goes from extreme close up to extreme long shot.
The film sequences shown are from Uccellacci e uccellini by Pasolini (The Hawks and the Sparrows, 1966).