The Grim Reaper (1962)

The Grim Reaper (La comare seca)
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
Written by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Sergio Citti
Cinematografica Cervi/Cineriz
First viewing/Netflix rental


What you want from a movie when you begin it is 150,000 miles from what you reach at the end. Moviemaking is a process. You end with something different; that’s what gives it life. I cannot plan a film as a script or as a storyboard. I need the camera; I need the actors. I can’t do it on a desk. I need the reality to whisper to me. If you leave the door open to reality, the smell of reality is so strong, it adds so much. It attacks and enters and infiltrates, that’s what I enjoy. — Bernardo Bertolucci

Bertolucci didn’t make his name for murder mysteries.  This is an OK one with an interesting premise.

The police (never shown on camera) are investigating the murder of a prostitute found dead in a Roman park.  They question many people who were in the park at the time of the murder.  We get the version of events given by the witness accompanied by shots of what the witness was actually doing.  Most of what anyone tells the police is a lie.

The film covers the same time period several times with a sudden rainstorm and the prostitute’s preparations for work tying the pieces together.

This didn’t rock my world or anything.  It’s an ingenious way of storytelling and there are some beautiful shots.  Bertolucci was only 20 years old when he shot this film so we can cut him some slack.

Ben Mankiewicz intro

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