Patrick Milescu
MSCH- F 398
Professor Bowles
Theism in Accattone and Through a Glass Darkly
Cinema can be used as a very effective platform to portray the image of a concept or idea, being used both in the past and present to illustrate concepts as philosophical as religion or spirituality in general. In 1961, two innovative film directors, Ingmar Bergman and Pier Paolo Pasolini released two separate films which both experimented with the idea of Christianity, a more highly debated topic at the time. Bo th films were dramatic in their expression of conventional Christian belief, however both directors explored this theme in different ways. Bergman and Pasolini both used unique character growth , expert cinematic technique and br illiant narrative to render an honest depiction of religious dissidence. Although both were successful in portraying the social, ethical and emotional impact of theism, Pasolini was especially effective in his use of cinematic and narrative technique to express his vision.
Pasolini\'s Accattone is an exquisite reflection of the psychological and societal influence that can be inflicted on a person through the gripping beliefs of Christianity. Through his use of unique cinematic techniques like impressively coordinated scenes to tie in reli gious ideas, Pasolini added theistic ideology throughout his film. However, what is most notable in Pasolini\'s film is his expertise use of character development, utilizing his main character as a direct representation of Christian dogma. By using the anti-hero of a protagonist, Accattone, as a metaphor, Pasolini utilizes a very interesting angle of character development to accentuate an accurate depiction of Christ. Accattone literally translates to "beggar," suggesting his place in societal hierarchy in the film, and this could b e seen as one-way Pasolini uses the character as religious allegory. Just like Jesus, Accattone associates himself with the lower level of vagrants in society, spending most of his time with thieves and prostitutes . This concept holds true until the end of the film, where Pasolini directly relates his character\'s plight to that of Jesus Christ, sacrificing himself in the name of what he believes to be true. In contrast , Bergman uses the character development in his film in a to represent theological ideology, but in a different fashion. Through Karin\'s eyes, viewers can notice she is going through immense psychological struggle and Bergman enforces this notion through giving her and her family theological perspective. Within Karin\'s mental illness, Bergman depicts an image of traditional Christianity that is reinforced through her struggles and through her family\'s response to her actions. Bergman repeatedly relates her delusional behavior to theism, tying attributes of her psychosis to religious themes like the voices she hears or the spider she hallucinates which she believes to be God . Throughout Karin\'s character development, her family members are increasingly aware of the power of God and see her illness as more of a religious force speaking and acting through her.
With the skillful use of elaborate narrative and unique cinematic abilities , both Bergman and Pasolini were successful in articul ating Christianity in a way, which accurately represented how they each individually pictured it. Both directors were successful in their use of narrative, but Pasolini utilized it especially well in his film, Accattone. Pasolini used narrative in an interesting way, to balance the way he showed Accattone visually, he used narrative to paint a much brighter image of him. When we first met Accattone in the film , he is the pimp of a woman named Maddalena, which is a great example of Pasolini relating him to a Christ-like figure. However, t hroughout the movie it is difficult for the viewer to see Accattone as anything but a villain, but through Pasolini\'s use of narrative, the audience comes to see Accattone under a different light. For example, after comforting Stella, Accattone whispers to himself fo r Mother Mary to forgive him because he has punished himself for his poor actions. This interesting juxtaposition of character narrative works towards the representation of Christian dogma versus the image of Accattone we are shown visually. In comparison, Bergman also uses narrative strategies to portray his image of traditional Christianity but in a different way. Using Karin\'s family to really get across the meaning behind his narrative, Bergman