The Canterbury Tales (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Canterbury Tales (1971)

The Canterbury Tales (1971)

The Canterbury Tales




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Canterbury Tales Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Italian director Pier Pasolini tells four of the Chaucer tales in this graphic and satirical picture that chronicles the 14th-century's social, sexual, and religious standards in England. In Pasolini's Trilogy of Life, this second entry follows The Decameron and precedes The Arabian Nights.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Geoffrey Chaucer, Pier Paolo Pasolini
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 3, 1998
United Artists

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Hugh Griffith
as Sir January
Laura Betti
as The Wife from Bath
Tom Baker
as Jenkin
Franco Citti
as Mysterious Youth
Alan Webb
as Old Man
Pier Paolo Pasolini
as Geoffrey Chaucer
J.P. Van Dyne
as The Cook
Vernon Dobtcheff
as The Franklin
as Chief Witch Hunter
Derek Deadman
as The Pardoner
George Bethell Datch
as Host of the Tabard
Dan Thomas
as Nicholas
Michael Balfour
as John the Carpenter
Peter Cain
as Absalom
Daniele Buckler
as Witch Hunter
John Francis Lane
as Greedy Friar
Athol Coats
as Rich Homosexual
Tiziano Longo
as Simkin the Miller
Eileen King
as Simkin's Wife
Martin Whelar
as Jack the Justice
John McLaren
as Johnny the Grace
Edward Monteith
as Dick the Sparrow
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News & Interviews for The Canterbury Tales

Critic Reviews for The Canterbury Tales

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

If Pasolini had something more than grubby fantasy on his mind -- and presumably he did -- it isn't immediately apparent.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

the brash, arguably campy manner in which Pasolini transcribes Chaucer's medieval bawdiness to the screen, coupled with the film's various technical faults (particularly the lousy dubbed dialogue), tends to make the film a chore to watch.

Full Review… | January 4, 2013
Q Network Film Desk

After the formidable commercial success of his bawdy Decameron, Pier Pasolini applied the same formula to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales with somewhat less appealing results.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Robust and smart, much like its more expansive source material.

April 28, 2004
New Times

In contrast to the Italy of Pasolini's Decameron, the England of The Canterbury Tales is much more harsh in its treatment of vice of all kinds.

April 14, 2004
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Audience Reviews for The Canterbury Tales

This movie is second of Pasolini's so called 'Trilogy of Love' (Il Decameron, I Racconti di Canterbury, Il fiore di mille e una notte; 1970-1974). All these movies are quite specific, there are said not to be that provocative or intriguing. They are greatly influenced by the fact that while directing them Pasolini was contented because of his intimate relationship with the 'innocent barbarian', actor Ninetto Davoli. It is also said that in 'Trilogy of Love' Pasolini became resigned to the present time world by escaping to the past.

However I don't think it's true. In these movies, Pasolini introduces to the audience an incorrupt world where people don't care about 'material aspects of life', they try to live at the full stretch, they seek love and, of course, sex and they do not respect 'the repressive limits imposed by religious and bourgeois morality' (Gino Moliterno). This is probably why Pasolini later declared that these three films were most ideological of his career (in his famous and long interview with Massimo Fini). I suppose Pasolini tried to confront such 'primitive' world with the world he had lived in and which he had hated so much (this confrontation is present all the time, especially by the contrast between the love and the death, by the contrast between the first tales, in which the human naked body dominates, and the last two tales in which pursuit of money causes death and perdition. Because of such end it is also suggested that I Racconti di Canterbury are very close to Pasolini's disillusioned last movie, Saló).

It is common to hear that Chaucer must have rolled over in his grave after this movie was released. But if you try to understand The Canterbury Tales in the context of Chaucer's attitude towards love in his (other) literary works, you will probably find that Chaucer would resemble to Pasolini alias Mr Chaucer ends the film with writing 'Here end the Canterbury Tales, told for the mere pleasure of their telling, Amen'.

Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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