• 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


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    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Why Pasolini Chose Matthew

    Just came across an interesting piece on Pasolini's Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (Gospel According to St. Matthew). Not only did it include the above photo from the set, which is one I've not seen before, but it also includes a lengthy excerpt from Maurizio Viano's "A Certain Realism: Making Use of Pasolini’s Film Theory and Practice" which discusses some of the reasons that Pasolini chose Matthew's Gospel, rather than one of the other three. I was particularly struck by this part:
    Furthermore, Matthew’s Gospel is most concerned with the problem of the relationship to the Law and tradition and, much to Pasolini’s liking, suggests an ambivalent attitude towards both. Any reader of Matthew’s text is bound to be struck by the recurrence of the formula, “You have heard that it was said . . . but I tell you . . .” Tradition is invoked and corrected, accepted and refused. As a result, Matthew’s Christ is the embodiment of a destructive reverence, of an oxymoronic love/hate relationship with the Law. Such a gesture of simultaneous affirmation/negation is cleverly emphasized by a recurrent image in Pasolini’s film: Christ’s most often-repeated posture shows him walking decisely ahead, with his back to the camera and his face turned towards it. An image which stresses leadership but also conveys the sense of going ahead while looking back.
    The blog's author, Michael J. Bayly, also include a quote from Martin Luther King which is also new to me. He seems to have been put off watching the film however by reports of poor quality DVDs for this film. As I've said in his comments section there are good versions of the film available on DVD. I have the Region 2 Tartan release but DVDBeaver compares a number of others. I hope that helps him. He's clearly a man with impressive aesthetic taste. Just take a look at his blog's colour scheme...

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