The Hawks and the Sparrows (1966)

aka Uccellacci e uccellini
Article 3365 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-18-2010
Posting Date: 10-31-2010
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Featuring Toto, Ninetto Davoli, Femi Benussi
Country: Italy
What it is: Italian political art film comedy

Two men walking down the road of life encounter a talking raven who tells them a fable about a saint intent on converting the hawks and the sparrows to Christianity.

Up until now, all the Toto movies I’ve seen have been in unsubtitled Italian, and though I liked what I’d seen, I can’t really say that I was able to follow them. This is the first time I’ve encountered him with subtitles, but I highly doubt this is a typical movie of his. This is also the first movie I’ve encountered by Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, though I suspect it won’t be the last. The plot description above only covers about the first half of the movie, but I can’t really put into plot terms what happens beyond that; the various comments about it say that it deals with the church, Marxism, ideology, and any other number of subjects. One of the user comments on IMDB made me feel that to properly understand it, I need a strong grounding on the political situation in Italy at the time it was made, and that is most likely true. Still, Toto is a sharp enough comic actor that I was able to find some enjoyment in the various situations, and I think I did at least notice the theme of how ideologies flounder under the attack of human nature. The talking raven is the most prominent fantastic content in the movie, though the fable about the hawks and the sparrows contains other touches. It was an interesting viewing experience and may bear rewatching, but I think there will always be limitations in my being fully able to appreciate it.

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