In 1349 the Italian Author and playwright Giovanni Boccacio wrote a collection of short stories called THE DECAMERON which consisted of a series of tales woven into a rich tapestry of life lessons based on wit, practical jokes and drama. Not only has it been said that this work might have largely influenced Chaucer’s CANTERBURY TALES but it is one of the great classics of early Italian prose. In 1971 Italian Filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini created a film adaption which was largely critical of the church which was understandably controversial. On the heels of this, in 1973, Mario Caiano released “THE REAL DECAMERON” which is the film I will review for you today. Whether the following prologue was the most obvious attempt of a Horrorview reviewer to pad the beginning review or the most desperate effort to provide some historical reference for a given title is up to you the reader to decide. As for me, I am going to take a look into this Decameron “knock off” and see if there is any “real” entertainment value to be found within it.
As the film starts we are treated to the frame story of six 14th Century Italian washer women doing their laundry by hand while exchanging gossip and tales of love and gossip. The tales quickly become a vignette which we see for ourselves. There are too many stories told here in this very short film so for once I am not going to explain them and ruin what tiny twist endings they attempt. Let me just say that all of the tales borrow one or more of the following themes: beautiful, often insatiable maidens, lustful young men who are up to no good, older men who have no clue how to please their young wives and often a token situational “Mr Roper” character in the story whose sole purpose is to keep other people from having sex. As the film is chock full of madcap trysts gone wrong and topless female nudity, you can now imagine the basic premise of this. Fans of subtitled sex comedy, castle cuckoldry in the guise of a literary classic need look no further than this title.
As for the rest of us, this title seems to lack immediate resonance. While there is indeed full much frontal nudity in this film, the bits of skin are used only for comedic benefit that defies the usual lurid enjoyment of other films of this style. Trying to appreciate the “sex” in this film would be like trying to “spank it” to the scantily glad girl in a Benny Hill chase sequence. It is just too silly and fleeting to enjoy for the sake of itself.
Which potentially leaves this product to be enjoyed in the manner of a comedy? This works theoretically, but the standards of comedy have tightened up in the past forty years and the stories endings are rather poor and lack the same finality and punch American audiences have come to expect from even an ancient 1970’s sitcom. Additionally, many of the tales end on a cheap sight gag or forced joke that really concludes nothing at the stories end. Even the wraparound story involving the washer women concludes on a discordant note when one of them notices her husband among the formation of soldiers marching by so she and her fellow workers take it upon themselves to forcibly “entertain” them all but of course even this lascivious scene was rendered limp and laugh less by the usual immature tone of the film where breasts are used once again not as an expression of adult sexual expression but as object of open, abject laughter as part of its ancient but adolescent humor.
Still, it does make some sense and it isn’t impossible to follow. Additionally, a couple of the stories are amusing in their adult awkwardness. Imagine the twisted sexual mock medieval subplots of GAME OF OF THRONES as interpreted by Monty Python and you pretty much have a good idea what this is like.
Extras include nothing.