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The Canterbury Tales (1972)
"I racconti di Canterbury" (original title)

X  |   |  Comedy, Drama, History  |  30 May 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 4,139 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 43 critic

Pasolini's artistic, sometimes violent, always vividly cinematic retelling of some of Chaucer's most erotic tales.


(screenplay), (book) (as G. Chaucer)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sir January
Laura Betti ...
Josephine Chaplin ...
Alan Webb ...
Old Man
J.P. Van Dyne ...
The Cook
The Franklin
Adrian Street ...
O.T. ...
Chief Witch-Hunter (as OT)
Derek Deadman ...
The Pardoner (as Derek Deadmin)
George Bethell Datch ...
Host of the Tabard (as George B. Datch)
Dan Thomas ...


Pasolini's artistic, sometimes violent, always vividly cinematic retelling of some of Chaucer's most erotic tales.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | History


X | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

30 May 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Canterbury Tales  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(cut) | (premiere)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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Some of the women have tan-lines from bikinis. See more »


The Cook: Between a jest and a joke, many a truth can be told.
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Featured in Playboy: The Story of X (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

We are nothing but the entertainers of Satan
4 June 2008 | by (Olliergues, France) – See all my reviews

We know where we are – in England – with the songs and music, the looks of these people, the way they dress, the way they look, the faces they make and the faces they have, their violent games and the first jest, and the first joke, sets the action in a fighting ring with a red lady dressed in so much crimson sanguine velvet that she looks like a cardinal, the bird of course. And the hats, Lord, or the way they dress their hairs. Holbein, Rembrandt and the Flemish school, and yet their inns cum nunneries cum brothels cum stables and a lot of welcoming remarks are real enclosed farcical and at times lethal bordellos. Most festivities take place in big halls. That's England isn't it, cold and rainy, uncertain and wet, at least as for the climate and the weather. The garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and Pan fingering his pipe is not bad at all, looking like a Stonehenge of well trimmed bush pillars. The most intriguing sequence is that of the homosexuals who are tricked into sex by some agents of the church, but only to be proposed a choice: pay or burn on the griddle. One is rich and goes through. The other is poor and burns. The scene is amplified by the dais and the canopies all around the quadrangle where it happens, by the velvet of the dresses and by the silence, by the kids watching the show, the green lawn of this quadrangle surrounded by Norman or Tudor architecture, the bringing of the faggots by half nude teens before the bringing in of the gay yelling faggot, his being tied on the griddle, the lateness of the priest and his cross and the silence again when the flames finally engulf the man. And all is seen through the eyes of a bun-vendor who does not say a word and roams behind everyone. And it is all calculated by the local bishop with the help of a consenting youth who plays the bait. And the mute witness is later revealed to be the devil enjoying the show set up for him by the good old Christian men and women. And there we start descending into a Flemish vision of Hell. And Hell is on earth with Charlie Chaplin arriving in the picture, accompanied by the traditional music of his mute films on a pipe, the cops, the cheating at the soup distribution, the cane and the bowler hat, the bored bride in a wedding, the monstrous father of the wimp bridegroom that gets creamed with the wedding cake, the strict family but the cheating mother who feeds bad Charlie in the back of the father, even a job shining, or should I say, polishing eggs, playing dice with what Dickens would have called street Arabs, and Shakespeare scoundrels I guess. And he introduces us in his dream of a bawdy paradise on earth, interrupted by two cops who arrest him and put him in a pillory. Add to that the flood. And the red widow strutting across this mess. In England religion has been turned into a business, a sham, a parody, a farce, a social carnival in which a windmill grinds corn without turning its wings, but it does not matter since the miller is a thief. But Chaucer in the film leads us to another inn-brothel of England. And an angel will take you to Hell and you better like devils and Satan and you will discover where all the friars are kept in Hell by Satan himself. You'll drown in a real colic of friars all over the world directly from under the tail of His Lord Satan. Amen for sure.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines

12 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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