come lontano

Doug Ischar

2010, 21:20 minutes, colour/B&W, English/Italian


come lontano is a perverse historical romance in which two lives are inter-mixed, doused with sentiment, and – hopefully – redeemed. The work revolves around an unlikely couple – Paolo Pasolini and Maria Callas. There is also an ambiguous villain, Pasolini’s Alfa Romeo roadster in which he famously cruised for street trade and which was used to murder and mutilate him. come lontano’s first section is titled ‘alfa.’

In come lontano, cinematic tropes are recuperated as the emotional nodes. Its maker hates the Post-Modern notion of ‘appropriation.’ He prefers more fundamental concepts like theft, seduction, and passion - even if the theft is aggravated, the seduction botched, the passion unrequited. One might view the film as a meager analog to Pasolini’s masterpiece, Salo, in which the pleasures of the masters – in this case the filmmaker – are taken to monstrous extremes for which no apology is offered, no acquittal sought.

come lontano is a heartfelt homage to two singular artists whose utterly different lives, personas, and politics intersected briefly in the production of one radiant film, leaving them both forever changed.

The film is based largely on found materials: footage from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 Medea (staring Maria Callas) and numerous photographic sources, i.e. books, paparazzi photographs, etc. Rare silent footage of Callas performing Cherubini’s opera, Medea, concludes in the film’s third section. Only in the final section does original footage come into play. come lontano is in four sections, each with it’s own discrete qualities. It is modeled more after Modernist musical examples than after avant-garde cinema – formally, the film is very much a study in ‘composition.’ The title itself is an uncommon performance indication, meaning to ‘make sound as if in the distance.’

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