Tuesday, September 27, 2011


"Batter my heart, oh three pronged God..." John Donne

Teorema opens with a small debate amongst journalists, intellectuals, and unionists about why a rich bourgeois would suddenly decide to give up his factory and hand it over to the workers. Then there's a peculiar sepia-toned montage which carries on for a few minutes, interspersed with some John Donne-ish voice overs of volcanic desert shots.

Then we're at said bourgeois' home, a grand palazzo in Milan. A mysterious stranger has arrived at the house. He quickly seduces the single-minded and ultra religious maid. Then he ravages the son. Then the mother disrobes and waits patiently for him on the back porch. He diddles the father on his sickbed after reading Ivan Ilych to him. Finally, the daughter gives up her cherry, and the stranger leaves.

Each character reacts differently to the departure. The son becomes a quirky artist who paints on multiple layers of glass, spills paint randomly, and pisses on canvas. The mother trolls downtown Milan for young men and has distant, aloof sex with them, for which she feels terrible guilt. The daughter clenches her fist, lies down and goes into a catatonic state. The maid rushes off to her home village and becomes a mystic and healer who eats nothing but nettles and occasionally floats high in the air. The father gives away his factory to the workers and disrobes completely in a train station, running off into the smoking mountains to be a holy fool.

I suppose there's a Marxist interpretation in here somewhere, but I shan't ruin Teorama by overthinking it. I laughed some, but was mostly confounded. We're all quite detached from our natural inclinations. The stranger tries to engage the bourgeois family and open them to life; they're too small-minded to handle it. The Lord--or Godbody, or Michale Valentine Smith--moves in mysterious lays.

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