The Hawks and the Sparrows
(Uccellacci e uccellini)
Totò, Ninetto Davoli, Femi Benussi, Rossana di Rocco,
Pasolini coined the term ideo-comic to describe this unusual film that is at once a political critique and a delightful, offbeat farce—Bertolt Brecht meets Buster Keaton. It is an allegorical tale following the on-the-road exploits of three characters: a father, his son, and a talking crow who recounts Marxist fables and philosophies. Father and son are jettisoned into the thirteenth century to serve St. Francis, a true man of the people, by teaching faith to the arrogant hawks, humble sparrows, and “dried-up Christians.” Pasolini, a great admirer of Totò, cast the famous clown as the wistful, awkward father; Ninetto Davoli, a nonprofessional actor who became a Pasolini regular, plays the son. As for the bird, Pasolini stated, “The crow is extremely autobiographical.” Despite the humor, country roads and idylls seem to reverberate with longing in this film that begins with the question “Where is mankind going?” and ends by eating crow.