As close to being there as it gets, so far...
Forget Robert Powell or Hollywood epics - this film scores highly on atmosphere and believability precisely because it is rough-hewn from peasant countryside with no frills. If you are looking for square-jawed heroes or dewy-eyed females look elsewhere - these actors are as close to the real deal as possible - barring the odd fair-haired child extra here or there. The superlative music, untutored actors and primitive mediterranean scenery combine with the foreign voices to transport you back 2000 years. Even the Jesus actor has a striking uncoventional face that manages to convey an intensity and realism the equal of anyone in Tinseltown but which could never succeed because it is too 'unconventional'. Techicolor would ruin this film and monochrome suits the ancient subject matter perfctly. Sit back, turn up the volume and prepare to suspend disbelief for an hour or two. The Man was real and Pasolini's masterpiece is the real deal too.Read full review
A classic I had to have again.
I was responsible for the distribution of this film in the UK during the 1970's, I then lost track of it. Welcome back.
The Gospel According To St. Matthew
Filmed in Southern Italy in rocky hillside villages and along the coast, Pasolini's "Gospel" has the feel of a silent film, with its long close-ups of its cast of non-professional actors, which include Susanna Pasolini, the filmmaker's mother, and how the camera loves these rough, beautiful and distinctive faces…it is like a moving tapestry of Renaissance paintings, and a visual artist's dream film. Enrique Irazoqui's Jesus, with his lofty forehead, thick eyebrows that meet over his nose, and coal black eyes, is stern and compelling, and recites the Gospel with strength and mettle. Released forty years ago, the quality of this black and white film is gritty, which adds to the harsh depiction of the life and the landscape. Though much less ambitious, it reminds me a little of Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev", and it has the same pacing (especially in the first hour) and gravity. The soundtrack also shows signs of age, and includes Bach, Mozart, Prokofiev, Webern, some American spirituals ("Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" during the Manger scene), Kol Nidrei during the Last Supper scene, and Missa Luba. There is also a biting wind, whooshing and whistling though much of the film. This is a literal, marvelous interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel, which is sometimes simple and sometimes quite savage (the Massacre of the Innocents is chaotic); a must see for anyone interested in Christianity, and students of film and the graphic arts.Read full review