- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- EDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
APRUNTI PER UN’ORESTIADE AFRICANA
Italy, 1973


Directed by: Pier Paolo Pasolini. Screenplay: Pier Paolo Pasolini. Film Editor: Cleofe Conversi. Music: Gato Barbieri. Cast: Pasolini, Barbieri. Marcello Melio, Donald F. Moye. Yvonne Murray, Arehie Savage. Length: 80 min. Colour.

The late Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Notes for an African Oresteia documents on film his 1970 location hunting and local casting tour of Tanzania and Uganda for a never-realized feature adaptation of the Greek tragedy The Oresteia. Home-film quality of the footage suggests a written essay would have sufficed, but resulting pie will interest film historians and find usage in college film courses.
Pasolini shoots many close shots of African faces staring curiously at his roving camera. His commentary is voiced-over on the soundtrack in dubbed, unaccented English, while African students he questions in a classroom setting respond in unfortunately untranslated Italian and French. The filmmaker also interjects Biafran War newsreels to show his inspiration for planned flashbacks of the Trojan War.
The concept is to set The Oresteia in Africa circa 1960, when many colonies were following Ghana’s lead in achieving independence. Pasolini saw the play’s transformation of the Furies into the Eumenides, paralleling Africa moving from tribalism to democracy. He hoped to portray the Furies in non-human guises, shown in a montage of bizarre trees and also in the sad image of a wounded lioness in the film. The modern cities of Kampala and Dar es Salaam would serve in composite as old Athens. Recalling the simplicity of his Gospel According to St. Matthew (for which Pasolini also shot and released a location-hunting documentary film), he presents on film an actual run-through for a scene in "Black Orestes," using a non-pro as Orestes visiting his father’s grave. Unfortunately, this footage is flat and unpromising.
The oddest notion here is Pasolini’s concept of using Black Americans to sing an operatic libretto in the film (hoped by the filmmaker to build upon what he conceived to be Afro-American’s natural leadership potential for the Third World). In a recording studio, Gato Barbieri’s trio plus two U.S. vocalists record music for a scene involving Cassandra at the beginning of the tragedy. Tenor saxophonist Barbieri’s music here is highly derivative (recalling the John Coltrane work of the mid-60s), and an embarrassing, out-of-it performance by vocalist Yvonne Murray is dubiously preserved on film for posterity. Considering the impressive vocals/jazz of Afro-Americans such as Archie Shepp around this time, Pasolini’s choice of Rome-based South American Barbieri is one of expediency. The resulting single music track is played repetitiously as backing throughout the film, alternating with a Russian (equal time?) chorus.

"Variety Film Reviews", 21.1.1981