• 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


    Friday, August 04, 2023

    My Film Commentary for Pasolini's Gospel According to Matthew

    For most of this year I've been writing a chapter on Pier Paolo Pasolini's Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1964). The chapter is due to go in a book celebrating the Arts and Faith Top 100 “Spiritually Significant” films lists due out sometime 2024-25. I'll post details on that in due course but keep an eye out for it. It's current title is "The Soul of Cinema: Essays on Arts & Faith’s Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films".

    In honesty, that project may have finished me as a writer. There has been just so much written about Pasolini, and the concepts he wrestles with and introduces as an artist are not easy to get one's head around that it was hugely challenging marshalling all the sources and doing them justice, and then trying to cram it down to a semi-reasonable word count (I think mine might be the longest chapter in the book. I'm grateful to the book's editor and brains behind the project, Ken Morefield, for his flexibility & support on that. 

    Having done all that I thought it might be fun to put that knowledge to good use in other contexts. So I was interviewed about the film by John Bleasdale for his "Cinema Italia" podcast which you can get from Acast | Apple | Spotify

    So I've also recorded this feature length commentary track. Here you get to watch the whole film while I discuss various aspects about it's production, meaning, performers, music, etc. It's like a director's commentary, only I'm obviously not the director. The beauty of doing this is that I've added subtitles so you can still follow what's happening. And it's 720px so the visual quality should be pretty decent. Watch the video here.

    It's difficult to know how this will land. I'm an avid consumer of YouTube, but have had quite mixed results even with my own limited content. My most watched video is 3 seconds of John Inman going "I'm free", followed by Harry Dean Stanton singing "Ain't No Grave" in Cool Hand Luke. But in terms of Bible Films material I don't really know why my most successful video comprising of clips from 6 Classic Era Jesus Films has currently got 26,000 views, while one showing clips from 5 Silent Jesus Films has only 345. Similarly I would never have predicted that around 7,000 people would watch my clip from obscure Sardinian Jesus film Su re (2012), but only 64 would watch the pivotal clip from the far better known Jesus of Montreal (1989).

    I suspect this is the least appealing of all of them – after all not many people will have the time to sit and watch/listen to me for over two hours. But I do hope those that do find it an enriching and rewarding experience. I should add that I don't make a penny of these videos, so hopefully there won't be too many ads for household gadgets at crucial moments.


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