Notes Towards an African Orestes

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Notes Towards an African Orestes
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced by Gian Vittorio Baldi
Written by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Starring Gato Barbieri
Cinematography Giorgio Pelloni
Edited by Cleofe Conversi
Release date
16 April 1970
Running time
65 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian

Notes Towards an African Orestes (Italian: Appunti per un'Orestiade Africana) is a 1970 Italian film by director Pier Paolo Pasolini about Pasolini's preparations for making a film version of the Oresteia set in Africa.

The film starts as a cinematic notebook of Pasolini scouting locations and actors with a voice-over of his thoughts -- "perhaps this will be my Electra". Back in Rome, there is a sequence with a jazz group playing. He then invites a group of African students at the University of Rome to review his notes and comment. They politely but clearly tell Pasolini that the primeval Africa he imagined had little to do with the complex, diverse reality and that treating it as a primal setting for an ancient European story was foolish. They appear to be amusedly patronised by Pasolini's implication that social progress in Africa via the adoption of Western education systems should be distrusted in favour of his romanticised ideals of communal tribal systems and the dignity of labour.

The African Orestes was never made. It is implied towards the end of the documentary that Pasolini himself was having doubts concerning his own idea.

The film was screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.[1]



  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Notes Towards an African Orestes". Retrieved 2009-05-10. 

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