The Canterbury Tales

Watch The Canterbury Tales

"From the team that gave you "Decameron", Geoffrey Chaucer's Lustiest Tales of Merrie Olde England!"
  • X
  • 1971
  • 2 hr 2 min
  • 6.4  (8,103)

The Canterbury Tales is a 1972 movie adaptation of the classic book by Geoffrey Chaucer. Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, it features an ensemble cast and several short stories within the larger frame story of a group of pilgrims traveling together to the city of Canterbury. The film opens with a prologue in which Pasolini himself appears on screen to explain the concept of the movie. He describes how Chaucer's original work was made up of 24 tales told by a diverse group of characters, and how he has chosen to focus on eight of these tales in his film. Pasolini also notes that he has set his adaptation in modern-day Italy, rather than medieval England.

The pilgrims are introduced in a series of vignettes, which give the audience a sense of their personalities and backgrounds. These include a young man named Pinuccio who dreams of becoming a movie star, a group of nuns who are traveling to visit a shrine, and a young woman who is disguised as a man in order to join the pilgrimage. One of the most memorable characters is the bawdy and irreverent Sir John, played with gusto by Hugh Griffith.

As the travelers journey towards Canterbury, they take turns telling their stories. The first tale is "The Miller's Tale," which tells the story of a carpenter's wife who takes a young lover. The story is infused with Pasolini's characteristic earthiness, with plenty of nudity and sexual content. The second tale, "The Cook's Tale," is incomplete, as the cook falls off his horse and dies before he can finish.

Other tales include "The Friar's Tale," which tells the story of a corrupt friar who is ultimately brought low by his own greed, and "The Wife of Bath's Tale," in which a knight must solve a riddle in order to spare his own life. All of the tales are masterfully woven together, and each character's storytelling style reveals their unique personality.

Throughout the film, Pasolini's trademark visual style is on display. He uses the stunning Italian countryside as a backdrop to the action, and his camera lingers over details like the textures of stone walls and the patterns on tapestries. The film is also notable for its use of music, which includes both traditional folk music and avant-garde experimental pieces.

Overall, The Canterbury Tales is a fascinating and sometimes challenging film that rewards close attention. Pasolini's adaptation is faithful to the spirit of Chaucer's original work, while also adding his own interpretation and flair. The ensemble cast is outstanding, particularly Griffith as the larger-than-life Sir John. Fans of Pasolini's other work, as well as those interested in medieval literature or Italian cinema, will find much to enjoy in this film.

The Canterbury Tales is a 1971 comedy with a runtime of 2 hours and 2 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.4.

The Canterbury Tales
Where to Watch The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales is available to watch, stream, download and on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, FuboTV and The Roku Channel. Some platforms allow you to rent The Canterbury Tales for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 2 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.4  (8,103)