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Relating his facts in straight-on documentary fashion, Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1964 Biblical film stars Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus. In it, Christ and his followers are depicted as gentle radicals working against the grain of the unjust Roman power structure. Typically offbeat Pasolini touches include having Satan disguise himself as a Catholic priest and the casting of the director's own mother as the Virgin Mary. The music is selected from a variety of sources, from Bach to American spirituals. Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo was released in the U.S. as The Gospel According to St. Matthew -- much to the discomfort of Pasolini, who didn't want Matthew designated as a saint. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The controversial Pier Paolo Pasolini retells the life of Jesus Christ in a much more honest way than many of the "socially accepted" filmmakers who tried to do the same. Told in neorrealist key, without embellishment nor grandiloquence, and that's where the beauty and the greatness of the film comes, from its natural feel and simplicity.
Pasolini's "The Gospel According to St. Matthew" begins as an intriguing tale about an intense preacher in ancient times, but the plot turns less plausible as the film continues and the character gains various magical powers. Too bad. Wonderful locations and hats, though.
The Jesus of Matthew doesn't seem like a natural fit for neo-realism, but Pasolini makes it work. The effect is of an authentic, emotional devotion to Christ. Perhaps Pasolini's identification as a non-Christian helped his authenticity?
January 21, 2012
Between an 8/10 and 9/10, Pasolini uses a complex but seemingly stark and simple visual style, and he evokes wonderful performances from nonprofessionals Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso, and Marcello Morante. Juxtaposes the poetic and the prosaic strikingly.
A cool, spare filmmaking style + the simple, unaltered words of the Matthew gospel = a compelling film that depicts the message of Christ as shocking, radical, urgent, and uncompromising attacking conventional morality and established tradition to replace it with fiercely unconditional love and forgiveness. The truest account of the life of Christ I've ever seen on film.