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The Canterbury Tales Reviews

After the formidable commercial success of his bawdy DECAMERON, Pier Pasolini applied the same formula to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales with somewhat less appealing results. Seven of Chaucer's tales--those of the Friar, the Cook, the Merchant, the Miller, the Wife of Bath, the Reeve, and the Summoner--are brought to the screen with sex, brutality, and scatology foregrounded. As always, Pasolini provides a political subtext: 14th-century England is depicted as a period of social turmoil in which individual freedom (particularly of the sexual variety) had yet to be wholly squelched or perverted by the rise of the mercantile middle class. According to the director, "I connect these stories with the regret I feel for the loss of the world of the past. ... Chaucer foresees all the victories and triumphs of the bourgeoisie, but he also forsees its rotten-ness."