Listen to three cues composed by Ennio Morricone for Pasolini’s 1968 film ‘Teorema’ (Theorem, Theoreme). Japanese reissue, Barclay/ London Records, 1983.
Whilst Parcelforce and my local sub-post office were busy fouling up the delivery of this record, the ensuing delay meant that I found myself seeing the film at the BFI on London’s Southbank before hearing the soundtrack- an unusual sequence of events for me.
In Pier Paolo Pasolini’s groundbreaking and experimental film, a beautiful guest (Terence Stamp) arrives at the home of a wealthy industrialist, enchants and seduces, in turn, all members of the family, one house maid and then leaves. Immediately, all are transformed as they struggle to establish anything meaningful in their lives beyond the shattering experience that the nameless guest has visited upon them. The son becomes a charlatan artist while his sister enters into a catatonic state and is carted off by the men in white coats. The father gives his factory away to the workers and is last seen running naked, howling in anguish, across a barren landscape that may or may not represent the wasteland of the bourgeois soul. His wife, on the other hand, begins to trawl the local streets for young men with whom to have joyless sex, be it in sad little rooms or ditches within the church yard. After a self imposed diet of cooked nettles, only the faithful maid comes out on top (literally), suspended with her arms outstretched like Christ on the cross in mid-air, performing healing miracles upon sick children. Oh, and then she has herself buried alive: the worker sainted and martyred, the middle classes reduced to empty vessels, dried up husks. Go, Pier Paolo, lay it on the line!
When the film ended, the audience were delighted to welcome Terence Stamp himself onstage for a ‘Q & A’, whereas I , being a tad husk-like, an empty vessel and very hungry was hoping to make a fast exit and have a tasty dinner somewhere. No such luck. I was hemmed in by cinema goers who were all too happy to listen to the recollections of a lovely old thespian, complete with meaningful, piercing stares into the middle distance and long dramatic pauses. So long, in fact that I genuinely thought he’d forgotten what it was that he had been going to say next. Well, he is getting on. I don’t remember most of what he talked about because I was too busy thinking about food, but I do recall him saying, more than once, that the only reason he took the part in the first place was that he was guaranteed to get his grubby little mitts on gorgeous co-star Silvana Mangano.
Curiously, the soundtrack lp does not contain the stately, funereal jazz piece that opens the film and reoccurs at several points throughout. I’ve since discovered that it is a tribute to jazz musician Eric Dolphy who died it seems, needlessly, from diabetes in Berlin whilst on tour in 1964. Entitled ‘Tears For Dolphy’, it was recorded in the year of his death and written by Ted Curson. It is uncredited in the film. The three tracks that I have included above, plus two more suspenseful atmospheric pieces, are all the Morricone we get with this record, the other side being devoted to sections of Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ which also grace the movie.