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The Canterbury Tales (1972)

I racconti di Canterbury (original title)
NC-17 | | Comedy, Drama, History | 30 May 1980 (USA)
Pasolini's artistic, sometimes violent, always vividly cinematic retelling of some of Chaucer's most erotic tales.


Pier Paolo Pasolini (screenplay), Geoffrey Chaucer (book) (as G. Chaucer)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Hugh Griffith ... Sir January
Laura Betti ... The Wife from Bath
Ninetto Davoli ... Perkin
Franco Citti ... The Devil
Josephine Chaplin ... May
Alan Webb ... Old Man
Pier Paolo Pasolini ... Geoffrey Chaucer
J.P. Van Dyne J.P. Van Dyne ... The Cook
Vernon Dobtcheff ... The Franklin
Adrian Street Adrian Street ... Fighter
Orla Pederson ... Pilgrim (as OT)
Derek Deadman Derek Deadman ... The Pardoner (as Derek Deadmin)
Nicholas Smith ... Friar
George Bethell Datch George Bethell Datch ... Host of the Tabard (as George B. Datch)
Dan Thomas ... Nicholas


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | History


NC-17 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Remarkably, this is the only major cinematic take on Geoffrey Chaucer's classic tales. See more »


Philippa Roet, the wife of Geoffrey Chaucer died in 1387 long before he began work on the Canterbury Tales. See more »


Angel: Hey Satan! Lift up your tail and show us where you keep the friars in hell!
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC with edits to anal sex shots, a man being whipped, and Rufus urinating on the crowd during the 'Pardoner's Tale' segment for an 'X' certificate. The cuts were fully restored in 2001 and the certificate downgraded to a '15'. See more »


References The Tramp (1915) See more »


Estampida Ghaetta
composed by Francesco Landino
See more »

User Reviews

Interesting but not Chaucer
26 February 2006 | by ShuggySee all my reviews

If you watched this movie in order to get a crib of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, you'd be out of luck, and missing the point. Chaucer's underlying anti-clerical and pro-love-and-life philosophy may be there, but the substance is very different. Pasolini's 14th century England lives and dresses more like 16th Century Italy.

The Miller's Tale is much grimmer when brought to the screen than Chaucer would have intended. "And Nicholas is branded on the bum, And God bring all of us to Kingdom Come" in Coghill's cheerful popular translation, becomes something more like the execution of Edward II. Not just on, but in. And the execution of a sodomite too poor to bribe his way off the griddle seems drawn out just to make a bad joke about the seller of "griddle cakes" (frittelli) plying his trade in the crowd.

He is one of the more than fair share of handsome young men in the film, and there's more than a fair share of closeups of their middle regions, front and back, in tight-fitting breeches (not that I'm complaining).

One feature that is almost entirely absent is any sense of pilgrimage. The storytellers appear only at the beginning and end of the tale. Instead we cut back to Chaucer himself (Pasolini himself, and very handsome he is too), writing the tales at a snail's pace. There are also long (by 2006 standards) tracking shots over indifferent scenery. Yet other scenes jump disconcertingly, the start of one tale used to mark the end of the previous one.

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Italy | France

Release Date:

30 May 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Canterbury Tales See more »


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Technical Specs


| (premiere)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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