• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Monday, February 27, 2006

    Odyssey in Rome

    Those people who are lucky enough to have already seen Abel Ferrara's new film Mary (discussed last month), as well as those, like me, who are still anticipating it, may be interested to know about the documentary about the preparation and production of the film, called Odyssey in Rome. The documentary's website is mainly links to the various companies and individuals who have contributed to it, but there is also a trailer and a synopsis which discusses both Ferrara's original film, as well as this making of documentary (directed by Alex Grazioli). The synopsis of the original film has a couple of interesting snippets:
    Abel Ferrara... has defined Mary as the epilogue of his cinematographic career. Intrigued by what happens when a film wraps up and how an actor/actress disengages from their fictitious role, Ferrara explores the fragile relationship between fiction and reality, in the context of a contentious storyline that addresses what it means to have Christian faith...

    Mary tells a story of the making of a movie, in which the director, casts himself as Jesus Christ. The actress Marie Palesi (Juliette Binoche) plays Mary Magdelene, who whilst searching for the essence of her character, finds herself completely consumed by it and embarks upon a spiritual quest to Jerusalem following filming. Later, Ted, a New York City news reporter initiates his own personal crisis provoked by hosting a television documentary about the life of Christ...Mary, looks set to create a storm as it questions who Mary Magdelene really was, why she has been portrayed as a prostitute as opposed to apostle, and the relationship between the mass media and organised religion.
    I've not read or seen The Da Vinci Code yet, but that last paragraph makes me wonder if they might make n interesting double bill.

    As for the documentary film itself, I noted a couple of things from the trailer. Firstly the opening shots of the trailer were great to look at. Pretty soon however, I began thinking how similar the start of this trailer was to the start of one of The Passion of the Christ's trailers. The soundtrack is a female soloist doing lots of "ahs" and singing in some middle eastern sounding tongue, a low shots, and then one of Ferrara standing on this own in the desert, all interspersed with the following dialogue a line at a time:
    in a time when faith is being questioned
    there are artists striving for perspective
    with the odds against him
    a filmmaker searches for truth
    which sounds very like bits of the trailers' text, and the kind of things that were being said about Gibson whilst simultaneously subverting that a playing Ferrara as the true messianic artist. Perhaps I'm reading too much in, but it seems to me a cleverly composed opening.

    The rest of the trailer seems to focus on the trouble they had funding the film. Whilst this is interesting in the context of the financial phenomenon that was The Passion, I hope the final cut of the documentary includes a bit more than this. Ferrara is a very interesting director, and he has some great actors working with him as well. Hopefully we'll get to hear plenty from them.

    I also have no idea what the release plans are for this documentary. Even despite Mary's Grand Jury prize at Venice, the movie has struggled to find a distributor. I would assume then that Odyssey in Rome won't be released independently, but will be an extra on the Mary DVD. That said, according to IMDB, it will be playing at this year's Venice festival.

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