Archive for May 6th, 2009


by Allan Fish

(Italy 1964 132m) DVD1/2

Aka. Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo

The Gospel According to an Atheist

p  Alfredo Bini  d/w  Pier Paolo Pasolini  gospel  St Matthew  ph  Tonino delli Colli  ed  Nico Baragli  md  Luis Enrique Bacalov  m  W.A.Mozart, Johann S.Bach, Sergei Prokofiev  art  Luigin Scaccianoce  cos  Danilo Donati

Enrique Irazoqui (Christ), Margherita Caruso (young Mary), Susanna Pasolini (Mary as an older woman), Marcello Morante (Joseph), Mario Socrate (John the Baptist), Settimo di Porto (Peter), Otello Sestilli (Judas), Ferrucio Nuzzo (Matthew), Giacomo Morante (John), Alfonso Gatto (Andrew), Pier Paolo Pasolini,

There is something about Pasolini’s religious piece that cannot help but draw comparisons, both to Pasolini’s other works and to the other films detailing the life of Christ.  Christ has, of course, been depicted on film on numerous occasions, with de Mille’s unforgettable King of Kings, Duvivier’s arty Golgotha and Stevens’ elephantine but gorgeously shot The Greatest Story Ever Told standing out and more personal visions by Scorsese and Mel Gibson that cannot help but be a trifle pretentious.  Arguably better than all of them was Zeffirelli’s reverent TV epic, Jesus of Nazareth, yet Pasolini’s film conquers all.  That it does so cannot help but be suffused with irony, as it’s the least showy, the least religious, and by far the least iconographic film about Christ yet made.  And it is that very reason that makes it great in many ways.  None of your Byzantine and Roman symbolism here, none of your pictorial beauty inspired by the icons of Andrei Rublev (indeed, the film more resembles Tarkovsky’s film of the icon painter than his work).  Pasolini’s Christ is a rebel, a peasant, a man of the people for the people.  He is a Christ for the ages, distilled into its purest essence.  And whereas Pasolini’s other major films now seem either overly symbolic and pretentious (Pigsty), too wrapped up in contemporary comparison (Oedipus Rex) or, in spite of their brilliance, just plain nauseating (Saló), Matthew has none of these vices.  (more…)

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