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Peter T Chattaway

The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

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I have seen Seeking Locations in Palestine for The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964). Why, oh why, has this never been included with The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) itself as a DVD bonus feature?

BTW, does anybody know how the BCI Eclipse DVD, released last October, compares to the much pricier Water Bearer DVD mentioned at the beginning of this thread?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Hmmm, just wondering what the accepted length of this film is?

Amazon.com says this new DVD is 135 minutes, but this earlier DVD is 142 minutes -- and I just picked up an el-cheapo DVD that has a 127-minute version of this film. FWIW, the Pacific Cinematheque write-up linked above says it's 135 minutes, which is in the same basic ballpark as the IMDB listing for this film.

Incidentally, while the el-cheapo disc is certainly NOT of very high quality, I am definitely holding onto it until a truly decent version of this film comes out on DVD -- especially if it is ever re-issued with that documentary on Pasolini's search for locations in Palestine.

(This next bit is mostly for MattPage, but if anyone else shares our sickly obsession with Bible movies, feel free to read it too!)

The el-cheapo disc is actually a three-disc set that has about 15 hours of old (I certainly won't say "classic"!) religious films, and even after taxes, it still cost me less than a buck an hour. Interestingly enough, the only one I already had on DVD was Martin Luther (1953). The others, arranged chronologically, are:

The Great Commandment (1939; 80 min.; John Beal, etc.)

Hill Number One (1951; 57 min.; James Dean, Roddy McDowall, Fr. Patrick Peyton, etc.)

I Beheld His Glory (1953; 53 min.; George Macready, Fr. Patrick Peyton, etc.)

Joseph and His Brethren (1960; 101 min.; Geoffrey Horne, Finlay Currie, Belinda Lee, etc.)

David and Goliath (1960; 92 min.; Orson Welles, Ivo Payer, etc.)

Esther and the King (1960; 109 min.; Joan Collins, Richard Egan, etc.)

The Power of the Resurrection (1962; 58 min.; Richard Kiley, etc.)

Saul and David (1964; 112 min.; Norman Wooland, Gianni Garko, etc.)

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MattPage   

Wow thanks for the heads up Peter. One of them is coming my way!

FWIW I have two of them already (3 if you count Pasolini). The others are I Beheld his Glory (which I was sure I'd posted comments on when I got it earlier in the year, although it is fairly uninteresting despite being the first american film about Jesus in 25 years since The King of Kings, and the first in full colour and sound (although it only did the church rounds it didn't do as well as the follow up Day of Triumph which broke into cinemas as well it was so popular), and David and Goliath which is discussed here.

But I've wanted to see Esther and the King and Luther for a while, so I tjhink I'll go for this. The others I had been aware of on ebay, but were selling individually.

And of course the Power of the Resurrection stars Richard Kiley who went on to play Matthew in the Visual bible's Matthew. ANd it will be nice to have Pasolini's one on some form of DVD - is it widescreen?

Matt

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gigi   

I tried watching this last night. I say tried because I kept falling asleep. I couldn't help it! I was finding it interesting but my eyes just kept getting soooo heavy and I gave up right when he does the montage of Jesus speeches. The only other time I've been so completely unable to stay awake was in L'avventura, which might say something about me and Italian films of this era.

I loved that everyone in it was obviously Italian, even before a word came out of their mouths. Joseph, particularly. I'll have to watch it again before I comment further but I did stay awake long enough to be intrigued by his fascination with medium close ups on people's faces.

Edited by gigi

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MattPage   

It takes a few viewings to really get it, or at least it took me a while to move from curious ambivalence to "wow I love the way he does that bit". Push on through it's worth it.

Matt

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MattPage wrote:

: Wow thanks for the heads up Peter. One of them is coming my way!

Yer welcome!

Last night I checked Kinnard & Davis to see whether any of these films were mentioned in there, and if so how prominently. Turns out they had separate entries - with photos! -- for both The Great Commandment (which they date to 1942, not 1939, because that is when 20th Century Fox re-issued it) and I Beheld His Glory, neither of which I have ever seen.

: FWIW I have two of them already (3 if you count Pasolini).

FWIW, I realized after posting my earlier post that I actually have two, not one -- in addition to Martin Luther, I also have The Power of the Resurrection, on a DVD that combines it with the Pathe film The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1902-05). The reason I'd forgotten I had this disc is that I don't believe I have watched it yet; I got it as a review copy, and since I already had the Pathe film on another disc with From the Manger to the Cross (1912), it wasn't a high priority for me. Ordinarily, I'd say I could toss that disc now, except it has a completely different music track for the Pathe film, so I wouldn't mind holding on to this alternate version of it.

: And of course the Power of the Resurrection stars Richard Kiley who went on to

: play Matthew in the Visual bible's Matthew.

I still think of him first and foremost as Claudius in A.D. Anno Domini (1985). smile.gif

: ANd it will be nice to have Pasolini's one on some form of DVD - is it widescreen?

I don't believe so. And it's the dubbed version, not the subtitled version -- which is just as well, since the only subtitled versions I have seen on video used a bright white lettering, WITHOUT borders, that all-too-easily faded into the background sometimes.

So ... got any ideas about the different lengths of the film?

Oh, and BTW, did you see my post about the Matthew references in Pasolini's NEXT film, Hawks and Sparrows?

gigi wrote:

: The only other time I've been so completely unable to stay awake was in

: L'avventura, which might say something about me and Italian films of this era.

Haven't seen that one, but as I think I note at my blog, what surprised me on seeing this film between a number of OTHER Pasolini films for the first time was how DIFFERENT it was from Pasolini's earlier films; compared to other Jesus films, this film seems more "neorealist", but compared to other Pasolini films, this film marks the thin edge of the wedge between Pasolini's earlier "neorealist" films and his later, more stagey, more fantastical adaptations of classic myth, fable and legend.

And I say this as one who only stuck with the retrospective as far as his adaptation of Oedipus Rex; no doubt things would have gotten even crazier if I'd hung around for Decameron, Canterbury Tales or Arabian Nights.

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MattPage   
Last night I checked Kinnard & Davis to see whether any of these films were mentioned in there, and if so how prominently.  Turns out they had separate entries - with photos! -- for both The Great Commandment (which they date to 1942, not 1939, because that is when 20th Century Fox re-issued it) and I Beheld His Glory, neither of which I have ever seen.

Ah, I knew off the bat that most of them were mentioned in Campbell and Pitts. On the I beheld his glory disc most of these films are advertised as well so I looked them up, and most are in there. But hadn't checked Kinnard / David

: ANd it will be nice to have Pasolini's one on some form of DVD - is it widescreen?

I don't believe so.  And it's the dubbed version, not the subtitled version -- which is just as well, since the only subtitled versions I have seen on video used a bright white lettering, WITHOUT borders, that all-too-easily faded into the background sometimes.

THAT will be interesting too. I can't imagine how the film would work without that voice. Is it an American voice for Jesus?

: So ... got any ideas about the different lengths of the film?

Uh, no. Having just moved my VHS copy of the film and the aforementioned text books are all at the bottom of boxes . Could take me a while.

: Oh, and BTW, did you see my post about the Matthew references in

: Pasolini's NEXT film, Hawks and Sparrows?

I'd skimmed it, but as it turned out - fairly badly. I've now read it proper. Sounds like an interesting film FWIW - strange he used the same girl. Do you think he is deliberately subverting his previous film, or does he just think she is particularly angelic? HAs anyone else been typecast as an Angel before?

FWIW your comments on the locations documentary was quoted on Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway blog.

Matt

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Sara   

I watched this film via Netflix. I loved the simple desert scenes. And those of the disciples. And the real looking people in the throng.

But I got the hideous dubbed version. Jesus' voice was harsh and he rattled off the Sermon on the Mount in catalog fasion.

I would have loved to have heard the softer Italian voice of Jesus.

Which version did you all see/hear?

Sara

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Sara wrote:

: Which version did you all see/hear?

I've got the dubbed version on DVD, and I saw the subtitled version (which I taped off of TV years ago) on the big screen.

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Sara   
Sara wrote:

: Which version did you all see/hear?

I've got the dubbed version on DVD, and I saw the subtitled version (which I taped off of TV years ago) on the big screen.

I'd love to tape it from TV with subtitles. Everyone is so gung ho about DVDs, but sometimes taping gives us something we want - not clarity, but things like subtitles.

Sara

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MattPage   

Hi Sara,

I bought the video ages ago that was the subtitled version - and it is a wonder to behold. I recently happened to get the dubbed version on a disc with a load of other things I wanted (linked to above I believe), and put it on. It is horrendous. I think it's made worse becuase it's a very American accent for Jesus, and being british it just doesn't work (it does in say Last Temptation, or Jesus (1999) perhaps it's the accent + it being dubbed), either way once I'd had a bit of a laugh I had to turn it off before it spoilt the original for me. I will return to look at it for the bits where Jesus doesn't speak, but when the Subtitled version is available from Amazon I'm amazed that people still put up with a dubbed version. (If you have it on taped video that's a different story I suppose)

Matt

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He shot 12 films for Pasolini, according to the IMDB, and The Gospel and La ricotta were both among them ...

- - -

Italian Cinematographer Delli Colli Dies

Tonino Delli Colli, for half a century the eye behind the camera for some of Italy's best-known movies, has died at age 83, his niece said Thursday.

The renowned cinematographer was found dead in his Rome apartment Wednesday morning, Laura Delli Colli said. He had been suffering of heart problems, she said.

Delli Colli was a driving force in the birth and evolution of neo-realist cinema during the mid-1940s and 1950s. He went on to shoot over 130 movies, including such classic films as "The Name of the Rose" "Once Upon a Time in America" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". . . .

In a career spanning six decades he worked alongside directors Sergio Leone, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini, retiring in 1997 after directing the photography for Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning "Life is Beautiful."

Associated Press, August 18

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Sara   

I've said on this forum somewhere in some thread that I really don't like Jesus movies. I've seen Mel Gibson's. Pasolini's. and a few others.

Well, at 5AM this morning I watched on TCM the 1927 The King of Kings (Cecil B. DeMille, silent, and black and white.) This Jesus was totally sanitized. A goody goody. Never resisted. And his crucifixion was bland as far as nails and pain.

But as passive and as overly sweet as this Jesus was, I COULD NOT QUIT WATCHING THE FILM. During the Resurrection scene I felt like laughing. I ended up crying.

All morning I have been wondering why I kept watching this old 1927 film. The music score was really good and appropriate, but that is not why I kept watching.

I'm still wondering.

Sara

Edited by Sara

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MattPage   

You could ask Alan nicely (and more to the point directly). smile.gif

Glad you stuck with it, perhaps Peter and I are starting to get to you! Or perhaps it's just the subject matter that resonates with you. tKoK never really does much for me, other than by way of a historical artifact (of what 20s movies were like at their best)

Alan, if you're moving posts then you should probably move this one too.

Matt

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For me, at least at first viewing, this one's a real mix of excellence and annoyance.

Got it through Netflix and ended up with that English-dubbed version... which is a nightmare. I've made it through, but not without a Herculean effort. I'll be interested to learn how much difference hearing the Italian and reading the subtitles make the experience.

It seemed to me that the actor playing Jesus spoke as if well aware he was supposed to bring this movie in under three hours. By contrast, the recent Gospel of John project shows the rewards of slowing down and letting Christ's messages proceed at a more natural pace. It looks especially strange when Christ delivers long, important statements while practically running through the garden during the arrest. If Jesus really spoke so fast, no wonder the crowds were confounded. (But even as I write this, I wonder if the lines would have sounded less rushed in the original Italian.)

I'm also a bit annoyed by the way that Jesus looks so well-groomed and attractive compared to the rough and rugged faces of everyone around him. If Pasolini was so intent on natural faces and non-actors, why cast a Jesus who looks like a model?

Having said that, I too am amazed at some of the camerawork, the scenery, the intricate faces, the diverse music. I'm especially fond of the opening scenes with Mary and Joseph. And the scene of the murder of the firstborn sons... that was horrifying to watch. I don't know that it's ever been filmed so effectively.

I like the quiet, non-verbal moments of the film best, when the pictures are left to speak for themselves.

I'm glad I saw it.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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MattPage   

Hi Jeffrey - wow had you never seen this before?

The dubbed version makes a HUGE difference in my opinion. I had a VHS subtitled version, and about a year ago I happened to get a dubbed version of the film in with a 10 pack of other films. I put it on just to see, and had to turn it off becuase it was so awful. Imagine someone saying that the Mona Lisa was a nice painting, but to make it more accessible we should just photoshop out the background and put here against a garish yellow, and that should be the version people see - that's what the dubbed version is like artistic heresy. It doesn't help (me at least) that (as an someone used to English accents) it's dubbed by an actor with a cheesy American accent, who can't really put any emotion into his words (at least for the bit I saw)

By a point of comparison, I never really realised how much I had convinced myself that I really did like my horribly dubbed and foggily transferred version of Babbette's Feast until I was recently blown away by the non-dubbed clarified DVD version recently. If this makes this much difference to that film I'll bet it does to Pasolini's.

It seemed to me that the actor playing Jesus spoke as if well aware he was supposed to bring this movie in under three hours. By contrast, the recent Gospel of John project shows the rewards of slowing down and letting Christ's messages proceed at a more natural pace. It looks especially strange when Christ delivers long, important statements while practically running through the garden during the arrest. If Jesus really spoke so fast, no wonder the crowds were confounded. (But even as I write this, I wonder if the lines would have sounded less rushed in the original Italian.)
Hmm, I wonder how yo'd feel about this as you watch the dubbed version. Jesus's delivery is very deliberate IMO. Pasolini is trying to show him as a revolutionary. There's a hard, passionate edge (that IIRC the dubbed version loses totally), and an urgency to Jesus as he rushes around trying to spread his message.

It's interesting that you say "no wonder the crowds were confounded" because of couse they were - perhaps this is more realistic than we imagine? Actually one of the things I appreciate about this film is how it challenges my assumptions of how Jesus did do things. Most of the time the gospels are quiet on such things as how did Jesus Speak? Fast or slow? With a smile or not? We tend to fill int the gaps on these tings on little other than our own personal perception. What I like about this film is how much it exposes that in me. Other films will do it for others, but for me it is this film that shows how unbiblical much in my view of Jesus actually is.

As for the comparison with the Gospel of John, it's interesting because whilst they are both films using the words from just one gospel, they are two very different gospels. John's is far more wordy than Matthew's. It is far more about the long speeches Jesus gave. Matthew is more about what Jesus did, and shorter sayings and parables.

So yeah I'm glad you enjoyed the visuals - they are terrific, but if I were you I'd send it back to Netflix telling them it's an inferior product and asking for a subtitled version to watch instead. It's truly art-heresy IMHO.

Not written that very well, but I'm hoping Doug weighs in real soon to cofirm the subtitled vs dubbed issue.

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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M. Leary   

Got it through Netflix and ended up with that English-dubbed version... which is a nightmare. I've made it through, but not without a Herculean effort. I'll be interested to learn how much difference hearing the Italian and reading the subtitles make the experience.

I wasn't even aware that there was a dubbed version on DVD! But I guess there is. And one of the notes on this version is that even though it is seven minutes shorter than the official running time, there are no frames missing. Which means that for some reason, this transfer runs much more quickly than it should. I can imagine that this corrupts the soundtrack as well.

Having never seen the dubbed version, I have always found the intensity of Pasolini's Jesus to fit well with his version of who Jesus is. Which is by no means everybody's version. He is passionately aware of his mission and intent on shaking people out of their political malaise, a surprisingly fitting role model for Pasolini. But the film only excels in its details, faces, quiet voices, serendipitous matches between music and image, long shots of the disciples doing their thing. The whole is less than its parts, or as you say, those helpful moments of lo-fi reflection. And it is a masterstroke that he cast a truck driver as Judas.

So it may not be a great "Jesus Film," but it is an excellent film about Jesus and his persistent importance to culture.

Edited by MLeary

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