International Lens Presents: Il Decameron

So, you think you know raunchy just because you have six hours of Two and a Half Men on your DVR? Think again, because this 14th century hound dog has you beat. Boccaccio—Renaissance renegade—weaves a tangled web of eroticism, tragedy, love and immorality in the many tales of The Decameron (you know, that epic collection of short stories you were supposed to read in college, a.k.a. the predecessor to that other book you were supposed to read in high school: Canterbury Tales, ring a bell?). Basically, it’s the foundation for all of that trash we consume in mass nowadays, and there’s a chance you’ll be pleasantly off-put.

Fun fact: Hugh Hefner began production on an abridged, pornographic version of the The Decameron in the1960s. Playboy also financed Roman Polanski’s film adaptation of Macbeth in 1971. Classy move. Anyway, Hefner’s version of the early novel never came to fruition, but—never fear—Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1971 version did! And better yet, it didn’t sacrifice any of the abundant nudity, sexual and slapstick humor of the original.

Released to critical acclaim, Il Decameron illustrates nine stories from Boccaccio’s original. Full of the raunchiness present in the book, Il Decameron is NSFW humor straight out of the Renaissance with a 70’s European twist. Someone should name a drink after it. Philip Brubaker provides an apt summary here:

A young Sicilian is swindled twice, but ends up rich; a man poses as a deaf-mute in a convent of curious nuns; a woman must hide her lover when her husband comes home early; a scoundrel fools a priest on his deathbed; three brothers take revenge on their sister’s lover; a young girl sleeps on the roof to meet her boyfriend at night; a group of painters wait for inspiration; a crafty priest attempts to seduce his friend’s wife; and two friends make a pact to find out what happens after death.

Bummer alert: if you’re seeing this to avoid actually reading the book for class, you’re out of luck; Il Decameron is an Italian film and thus comes packaged with loads of subtitles. Required reading wins again…

Il Decameron is a part of Vanderbilt’s phenomenal International Lens series, catch the screening at 6pm on Wednesday in the Sarratt Cinema.

Matt