The Criterion Collection has packed their box set of The Trilogy of Life with supplemental features that help add context. The Decameron features an exclusive video essay by film scholar Patrick Rumble, “On The Decameron.” A 45-minute documentary, “The Lost Body of Alibech” focuses on a lost sequence from the film. The featurette “Via Pasolini” is comprised of vintage interviews with Pasolini. The Canterbury Tales includes three exclusive interviews (with author Sam Rohdie, composer Ennio Morricone, and production designer Dante Ferretti) and a 45-minute documentary, “The Secret Humiliation of Chaucer.”
Arabian Nights is presented as a two-disc set in order to avoid compromising the bitrate DVD. The film itself is longer than the other two, even if the extras aren’t particularly more substantial. “Introduction” offers brief comments from Pasolini himself, filmed in 1974 at the Cannes Film Festival. “On Arabian Nights” is a new, exclusive video essay by film critic Tony Rayns that provides a great deal of useful info about the film and its place in Pasolini’s filmography. Twenty minutes of deleted scenes are offered. Although they don’t have dialogue, they do have subtitles taken directly from the screenplay. “Pasolini and the Form of the City” is a 16-minute vintage Pasolini documentary about the ancient Italian cities Orte and Sabaudia. It’s an odd, but not unwelcome, inclusion.
Criterion has included a very substantial booklet, jam-packed with essays about the trilogy, including Pasolini’s own “Trilogy of Life Rejected.” A rather bewildering experience for those new to it, The Trilogy of Life is, on the surface, a mix of clumsily-staged sex scenes and bawdy, anything-goes humor. I couldn’t shake the feeling that too little time was devoted to any specific element for these films to have their intended impact. In the end, as amusing as they are at times, they come off like the product of a horny school kid with ADD.