In pre-war Italy, a young couple have a baby boy. The father, however, is jealous of his son - and the scene moves to antiquity, where the baby is taken into the desert to be killed. He is ... See full summary »
Having renounced her ignominious past, a former streetwalker reunites with her son. However, an extortion scheme endangers her aspirations for a decent bourgeois life. Can she protect him from the same snares that wounded her youth?
Pier Paolo Pasolini
After his quest to retrieve the fabled Golden Fleece, Jason returns to Greece with the powerful sorceress, Medea. However, when the king banishes her, it's only human that Medea plots her furious revenge. Can they escape her wrath?
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Ancient Arabia. A youth is chosen by a beautiful slave girl to be her new master; she is kidnapped and they must search for each other. Stories are told within stories; love, travel and the whims of destiny.
4 short films by a quartet of directors. Rosselini's 'Chastity' ('Illibatezza') deals with an attractive air hostess who receives the unwelcome attentions of a middle aged American. ... See full summary »
Along a rocky, barren coastline, Jesus begins teaching, primarily using parables. He attracts disciples; he's stern, brusque, and demanding. He comes to bring a sword, not peace, he says. He's in a hurry, moving from place to place near the Sea of Galilee, sometimes attracting a multitude, sometimes being driven away. His parables often take on the powers that be, so he and his teachings come to the attention of the Pharisees, the chief priests, and elders. They conspire to have him arrested, beaten, tried, and crucified, just as he prophesied to his followers. After he dies, he appears to his disciples and gives them final instructions.Written by
We have reached a point at which the main point of a movie about Jesus has to be that he was "human". As if his "humanity", in itself, was any more remarkable than that of Barabbas or Philip the Tetrarch or the Man Born Blind. A recent TV miniseries drew roughly 10 % of scenes and dialogue from the Gospels. Most of it was devoted to making the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity look like a slacker goofball, a likable but pitiful example of air-headed arrested development. The approach of moviemakers to the Figure of Jesus has always been crooked. Now it's just gotten out of hand.
In the 60s, they wanted to have it both ways. To make Jesus THE Man, the Son of Man, as it were, in clouds of glory, provoking supernal modes of a Phrygian nature, but in a secularized, not a "dogmatic" way. Things were bound to get worse for the Incarnate Word in cinema. The trick to the post-SUPERSTAR travesties is to diminish Jesus by making Him out to be infantile, weak, unstable, uncertain, neurotic, stupid... and answering all orthodox objections with an appeal to the idea of His True Humanity. "Oh, I suppose YOU think the Man was made of stained glass, that He didn't sweat and weep and laugh and sing and at least WANT to have sex with Mary Magdalene and maybe even the 12 year old daughter of Jairus..."
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST MATTHEW, with roughly 99% of its dialogue and 90% of its very images coming from the eponymous text,puts to shame all other Jesus Pictures on the level of basic conception. It alone has given itself over to the Material, to the Story. It is the only movie on Jesus made in good faith with Him as He is in the Gospel. That's why it's the only one which really works on a dramatic level. With great and terrible justice of at least a poetic kind, the others fail dramatically for having tried to serve two masters: the Gospel Christ and Modernistic, Liberal Christian reductionism in His regard. MATTHEW is the only one whose 33 year old itinerant Preacher matches up perfectly with its hours-old Angel-attending, Magi-sought Celestial Babe. (THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD fails most miserably in this regard. It robs Jesus of all glory, all Personal interest. No WAY this kindly but annoyingly sententious unmarried uncle or history prof, called forth Glorias In Excelsis once upon a time...)
It is far from perfect. The scenes of Jesus just standing there preaching get wearisome. Too much of the direction seems deliberately bizarre. Those are obviously dolls being tossed about like footballs in the Massacre of the Innocents scene.
But what brilliant gold on the other side of the scale!
The Face of Jesus, dominated by amazingly piecing eyes...
The strong yet suave voice provided by Enrico Salerno.
Jesus' air of otherworldly authority focused with terrible intensity on His Father's business in this world...
The intelligence and the compassion and the Rabboni-worthy anti-authoritarianism demonstrated in Pasolini's own marginal glosses to Matthew's narrative... The sadness and fear of a peasant girl both pregnant and unmarried... The mute qualms of young men, soldiers, before they are forced to render unto Caesar (Herod the Great, that is) something which SS Peter and Paul themselves might not so readily have declared not to be Ceasar's... (No Christian artist before Pasolini seems to have considered that the "cruel soldiers" of unreflective homiletics and iconography were ORDERED to be cruel by the lawful Powers That Be... Maybe for Pasolini this touch was a Marxist thing. But it should be a Christian thing...)
Magnificent sequences. The young fishermen brothers James and John racing unknowingly down a beach, nets unfurled, towards their Rendevous with Immortal Glory... The way in which the very spaces between Jesus and his hearers in one wind-blown preaching scene are made to convey the idea of His words being carried off on the wind...
And you want the human touch? After this Apocalyptically stern Master of All warns some hapless farmers he happens upon to repent, leaving them to look after him in shock and awe, HE SHOOTS A GLANCE BACK AT THEM! This beautifully natural and "human" moment puts to shame all the others' tendentious "souping-up" of the Sacred Humanity.
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