In the early hours of 2 November 1975, the body of Pier Paolo Pasolini – writer, poet, film director and one of Italy’s leading intellectuals – was found on wasteland in Ostia, just outside Rome. Several hours later, Pino “The Frog” Pelosi, a 17-year-old male prostitute, was arrested speeding along the Ostia seafront in Pasolini’s Alfa Romeo. Pelosi was accused of Pasolini’s brutal murder. It was alleged that Pasolini had picked up Pelosi outside Termini train station, taken him to a pizzeria and then driven to Ostia for sex. Pelosi himself claimed that he had killed Pasolini in self-defence after the latter had attempted to sodomise him with a wooden stick, but after a lengthy trial he was found guilty in 1976 and sentenced to nine years in jail.
On the night of his murder, Pasolini had dined with Ninetto Davoli and his family at the Pommidoro restaurant in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. Davoli had come from a poor Calabrian family and been discovered by Pasolini in the Rome slums in the early 1960s. He became Pasolini’s main actor, for a time his lover and subsequently one of his closest friends. It was Davoli who had to identify Pasolini’s corpse the following day.
Many people were unhappy with the murder verdict. The actress Laura Betti, who had appeared in many of Pasolini’s films, organised a campaign for an inquiry into his death. She argued that it had a deeper political significance. After all, Pasolini had made many enemies. In the weeks leading up to his murder he had condemned Italy’s political class for its corruption, for neo-fascist conspiracy and for collusion with the Mafia. In articles for Corriere della Sera he had called for Italy’s political class to be put on trial.
Other friends and supporters of Pasolini, like the film director Bernardo Bertolucci, used the absence of blood on Pelosi’s clothes and the nature of the marks on Pasolini’s body to cast doubt on the notion that Pelosi alone could have committed the murder. Bertolucci, who worked as an assistant on Pasolini’s first film Accattone, spoke of the way Pasolini’s life and public image had been “savaged” in the period leading up to his murder. Pasolini’s last film Salo o le 120 Giornate di Sodom depicted Mussolini’s fascists as sodomites, and he had received death threats from active neo-fascist groups.
“A dark coloured car came out of nowhere… and a motorcycle. All in all 5 people arrived… I saw them drag Pasolini out of the car and they were beating and kicking him, they really beat him up. They were shouting: “Dirty communist, queer, swine”. I was afraid. I went back when it was all over… To kill someone in this manner you must either be insane or be driven by some really strong force: now, given that these killers have managed to evade the law for more than thirty years, they certainly can’t be insane. So they must have had a very good reason for doing what they did. And no one has ever laid a hand on them. At the end of this incredible episode, I was the only one that landed up paying the price, and I was only 17 years old at the time. I was used…” Giuseppe Pelosi, in an interview on 12 September 2008
Video directed by Peter Christopherson in 2008 and included as extra feature in the BFI’s dvd/blu-ray edition of “Salò Or The 120 Days Of Sodom”, a 1975 film by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The song by Coil, mainly Peter Christopherson and John Balance, is taken from the 1986 album “Horse Rotorvator”.