Italian film director and writer, whose films caused considerable controversy with their Marxist politics and uninhibited sexual content.
Pasolini was born in Bologna and educated at the university there. He began in films as a scriptwriter in the early 1950s, having already published poems, novels, and several essays. During the 1940s he had lived in the slums of Rome among petty criminals and prostitutes, and it was these experiences that he drew upon for his novels and films, including his first film as director, Accattone! (1961). Never predictable, his contribution to Rogopag (1962), which was greeted with controversy and charges of defamation, was followed by the biblical The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964). Here, as in several of his other films, he used nonprofessional actors, including family and friends, for his cast. Oedipus Rex (1967), Pigsty (1969), Medea (1970), The Canterbury Tales (1972), and The Arabian Nights (1974), were among his films of the late 1960s and 1970s. His last film, Salò, or the 100 Days of Sodom (1975), was also his most notorious, being a reworking of an infamous book by the Marquis de Sade. His brutal murder in the slums of Rome was probably connected with his homosexual private life, although some have alleged a political motive.