The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pasolini, 1964)

The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964)

From what I know, this film has an interesting history. Apparently Pasolini, who is an atheist, was stuck in a hotel room one day when he decided to open the room’s Bible and start reading. It was then he decided to make a film based on the book of Matthew. Because, why not? Anyway, what he was able to accomplish, where most other films about Jesus fail, was to fully capture the human side of Jesus. There is no mistaking who knows the ultimate truth in this film; Jesus is bold, confident, and not afraid to speak what he wants, to whom he wants. Pasolini’s Jesus is very strong, and I like it.

But with the film being about the entire book of Matthew, we see all times of Jesus’s life. One of my favorite scenes in the entire film is when the people flock to see the baby Jesus, followed by Jesus and Mary taking a nap. The two scenes back-to-back do a great job of illustrating both the spiritual and human sides of these events. One of the film’s final scenes, obviously, is the crucifixion, which is probably the weakest aspect of the film. It lacked emotion and realism (no blood, really?), but Jesus’s trial is filmed beautifully from the perspective of an on-looker. In fact, Pasolini does a nice job with his camera placement throughout. This felt like it was actually taking place during Biblical times, instead of just feeling like a movie. Overall, this is the best Jesus film I’ve seen.  9.5/10

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