Before becoming a film director, Pasolini was already a famously controversial poet, novelist, and essayist. Although the literary critic, Harold Bloom, considers him one of the most important cultural figures of the 20th century, his work continues to stir controversy. His first film, Accatone, was about the life of a pimp. Pasolini's subject matter also included Christ, cannibals, sexual depravity, and great works of classical Greek drama like Oedipus Rex and Medea. A member of the Italian Communist Party, he was not a slave to the party line and often expressed his disagreement with it.
To honor him on his birthday, here is Maria Callas in a nine-minute clip from the English-subtitled version of Pasolini's Medea, which he released in 1969. Yes, it's true. Long before Tyler Perry gave us his Madea, there was another with a similar name. That Medea is probably the single most brilliant example of the old saying: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." And she did not need a frying pan to make her feelings known either.
Also, if you're wondering why The Great Beauty garnered this year's foreign language Oscar, the trailer for that film is offered here as well.