• 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


    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    ARGGHH! The Gospel According to Matthew..."Colorized Version"?

    Someone tell me this is a hoax. "Genius Products", who appear to be part of the Weinstein Company are about to release Pasolini's classic Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo...in colour. It's due to be released on the 26th March, and whilst it's skinny on the extras it does included the black and white version of the film as well.

    I have to admit I'm lost for words. Pasolini is probably spinning in his grave. The use of black and white was a deliberate choice by Pasolini; it was part of his aesthetic. Review after review of this film comments on the grainy black and white film stock, the impressive use of chiaroscuro.

    "But hey black and white is boring. Why don't we jazz it up with some colour?". Part of me is curious to see this, but only in the same way that people can't help looking on when they drive past the site of a car crash.

    The worst thing is that another release of this film on DVD means that it has further shrunk the potential market for a decent, Criterion-esque release of this film which includes the option to remove the subtitles, as well as his related films La Ricotta and Seeking Locations in Palestine for The Gospel According to St. Matthew.

    Meanwhile my podcast on Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo is still available to download.

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    • At 11:30 pm, February 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Don't pass judgement until you've seen it. The print is exceptional as is the colour.

      Check it out on the Legend Films site.


    • At 3:29 am, February 23, 2007, Blogger RC said…

      huh? that's interesting...

      this does not seem like the type of film they'd choose to colorize and re-release...you're right...Criterion makes much more sense.

      --RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

    • At 7:51 am, February 23, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for your post Anonymous, and also the link to the Legend Films site. I couldn't find any actual stills from the colourised version of the film there though. Are there any?

      Alternatively, if there are none on that website, I'm guessing you're somehow either involved in the release of this DVD or in Legend generally. If you'd like to display a couple of images from the colourised version then please use the contact form linked to in my header, and we can go from there.

      I should clarify that I'm not questionning the quality of the job that has been done, simply whether someone should have commissioned the project in the first place. I'm happy to say given a particular remit this company has done an excellent job, even if I'm unsure about the validity of that remit in the first place.

      Thanks again for your comment

    • At 11:27 pm, March 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      This is indeed sad news. As someone who saw this film on its first theatrical release in New York, I can only say that colorizing this visually startling film is nothing short of criminal, if not downright blasphemous. I find it difficult to believe that the Pasolini Foundation would have allowed this to happen had they known the film would have been tampered with, or perhaps they no longer control the rights any longer in the US.

      Just a note, Matt, in that Criterion have already included La ricotta on their excellent Mamma Roma set.

    • At 1:30 am, March 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I'm really at a loss for words. It almost doesn't matter how good a job of colourising this film is subject to - it's an act that so clearly violates the aesthetics of the film.

    • At 9:47 am, March 07, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for your comments. Fernando, I totally agree. It's just a strange, strange decision. They'll be CGI-ing out Jesus's mono-brow next.

    • At 3:03 am, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I bought a copy of this, and I'm sorry to say that the colorized version is cut down to 90 minutes and only features the english dub. The film transfer is detailed and clean (it's a nice widescreen transfer enhanced for widescreen TVs - though the packaging says otherwise), and the colorizing is decent - but what's the point if the film has been cut down from 137 min to 90min? A 137 min black and white version is included, but it's an awful looking transfer - neither detailed nor clean. It also features a low video bitrate. On the plus side, it's the original Italian version.

    • At 8:40 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for that information Anon, very useful. I'd be interested to know what they cut out. And are the subtitles on the B&W version optional?


    • At 10:34 pm, March 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Most of the quiet, non-dialogue sequences are cut down considerably. Some non-dialogue sequences have been cut out completely - such as when the older Mary watches Jesus walk down the same path that Joseph had walked down years ago. As for the subtitles - there is no way to turn them off - they're burned in.

    • At 9:24 am, April 02, 2007, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks again. As far as I know there is yet to be a version of this where you can turn the subtitles off.


    • At 1:21 pm, May 04, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      As far as I know, this is the only
      film that excludes the Star of

    • At 9:52 am, May 05, 2009, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Oooh, good spot. I mean there's obviously all those that omit the nativity (or at least the wise men story), but I certainly can't think of one off the top of my head.




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