Pier Paolo Pasolini and Anna Magnani: About All Passions

These are notes that were scribbled on various pieces of paper and found in Tennessee's suite at the Royal Orleans Hotel, and shared with me.


They taught me about love--about all passions. They were defiantly, joyously in love with each other, which means that they argued feverishly, fought for excellence and loyalty toward each other and their work, and ended most days and most assignments locked in an embrace full of laughter and alcohol.

I fell in love with Italy and all things Italian, to a large extent, because of their influence. They believed in truth in all things, no matter how painful or unflattering, and they loved the rustic in presentation, even though all things done by them were burnished by their talent and their intelligence and their ferocious study. Always they told me to not be precious, to not burnish to the point where truth can't peek through some jagged gash created by a powerful reality. They believed in myth--from the Catholic faith to Communist dogma to Christian Science to Balenciaga to Dali to Bunuel to Rossellini to the man in the little pension who made the best sauce in Italy. They crossed themselves frequently, even though the God who might notice such a gesture was on strike or disinterested or angry over some act they had committed. Both could cry listening to operas or touching the fabrics that littered the studio of a gifted seamstress or argue over statues in a museum, but they also compared Sophia Loren's breasts to flan and knew who had the best asses in Europe.

"It is all a gift, and it is all good," she would tell me.

I'm not going to delve into the matter of portents, but both believed that their lives would be short, and both lived rampantly and gloriously.

His poetry was magical and majestic and angry--all at once.

Her acting was big and bold and shattering--and always, always true. I don't know how she did it, and I've had conversations with many great actresses, and they don't know either. It was a gift, and it was all good.

I found them both beautiful--of soul, of skin, of touch. I fought with both of them, and I ended days with them in a bed or on a bed, cuddling like siblings and setting the world right.

They taught me about love and they taught me how to love.



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