Peter T Chattaway

The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

137 posts in this topic

FWIW I used to hate GSET, but now have a growing appreciation for it. The Mis-en-scene is, as you say, impressive, and moments of von Sydow's portrayal are good too.

But at the same time it is marred by it's weakness, forced baptisms awful hallelujah choruses. Older writers tend to find the gallery of stars distracting, but personally I saw this before I'd seen many of their other films. I find those in Jesus of Nazareth much more distracting.

Darrell - Gospel of JOhn is filmed in the Good News BIble, not the Living Bible. I was brought up on the GNB and it still has a place in my heart. I have no love for the LB FWIW

Back to Pasolini, I've not manged to see La Ricotta. I keep waiting for a DVD release of RoGoPaG, but no joy yet. I might try and get hold of that other one though.

FWIW I did a Top Ten Jesus films a while back, as did Peter. The Gospel According to Matthew was on both lists. I;ve been meaning to write about it for ages, but haven't quite had the nerve yet.

Matt

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I bought this video -Pasolini's Gospel According to St. Matthew a couple of years ago. It is very different from other Jesus stories. The film is very startk, gritty, raw, and portrays Jesus as the true revolutionary. No nonsense, no liquid blue eyes, no beard. The actors were all non-professionals. How Pasolini decided to direct this film is an enigma, since I think he was an atheist and a communist. Could be wrong. Anyway, the film's score is an odd assortment of music, but somehow it all fits. I loved it. Jesus' walking on water scene was beautiful, and the entire trial scene was seen from afar. Try to find it. Loved the angel!

Peppa

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I'm currently in the midst of the treatment of Il Vangelo in Walsh's Reading the Gospels in the Dark. A very interesting analysis, especially comparing Pasolini's use of his source (Matthew) with Matthew's use of his sources (Mark, Q, and especially the OT).

As to his Communism, Walsh points out that Pasolini saw Marxism and Catholicism (at least the Catholocism he saw emerging from John XXIII and Vatican II) as somewhat complimentary. (Note that the film is dedicated to John XXIII.) The key quote by Jesus for Pasolini (and the reason he said he had to make the film) is "I didn't come to bring peace, but a sword."

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Jesus' walking on water scene was beautiful

It was difficult not to fall in the water every other second. The scene was shot with a long tele lens and it was a matter of faking the walk lifting one leg at a time over a wooden board tied up to some empty big drums. Fun, but very wet a few times.

I enjoyed a lot reading all your posts. Thank you all.

Enrique Irazoqui

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Alan do you have any info that might indicate whether this is for real? (I know it's unlikely but still, it would be cool

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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:o

WOW

I'll go on faith that it's the real Enrique, and say, "Thanks for stopping by."

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:o

WOW

I'll go on faith that it's the real Enrique, and say, "Thanks for stopping by."

Well, yes, I am the "real Enrique". Living in Cadaqu

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Enrique, I just rewatched the film last week as part of my regular Lenten movie watching. I'm grateful for what you and Pasolini have done. (Like another poster mentioned, I especially love the walking on water scene, and I almost wish now I didn't know how it was done!)

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In that case:

:o

WOW

Like the other guys said thanks for stopping by and for your work on the film.

By the way, you might be interested to know that I recorded a podcast on your film which is posted here.

Many thanks again.

Matt

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Like the other guys said thanks for stopping by and for your work on the film.

By the way, you might be interested to know that I recorded a podcast on your film which is posted here.

Many thanks again.

Matt

Hi Matt,

It is a pleasure to post here. I found your

podcast moving and insightful. The beauty of Odetta's "Sometimes" in the background is almost a low blow.

I was not aware that "Il Vangelo" has been accused of anti-Semitism. I don't see any.

Enrique

Enrique, I just rewatched the film last week as part of my regular Lenten movie watching. I'm grateful for what you and Pasolini have done. (Like another poster mentioned, I especially love the walking on water scene, and I almost wish now I didn't know how it was done!)

Sorry if I spoilt it. I won't do it again, I almost promise you.

Enrique

Edited by Enir

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Enrique, are there any stories you can share here about the making of the film, your interaction with Pasolini, your own personal faith, etc.? I love this film and am fascinated and delighted that you've stopped by.

Maybe a question would help: Do you remember how long it took to shoot the Sermon on the Mount sequence? If I recall correctly, doesn't it take place over several days, sometimes in the night, sometimes during the day? I suppose it all could have been shot in a single day. Or maybe I'm misremembering?

Edited by Christian

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Hi Enrique, thank you very much for stopping by! I have written and lectured about your film countless times over the past decade, and enjoy it quite a bit.

Christian: Yes, the Sermon on the Mount is a montage, which is one of many brilliant things about this film. Unlike a lot of Hollywood films, in which the Sermon is treated like a Shakespearean monologue, Pasolini's film captures the essential nature of the text, which is that it pulls together various sayings from various points in Jesus' ministry and deposits them in one place for dramatic/literary structural reasons. Did Pasolini know the scholarship around that? I don't know, but if not, then he had great intuition.

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Hi Enrique, thank you very much for stopping by! I have written and lectured about your film countless times over the past decade, and enjoy it quite a bit.

Christian: Yes, the Sermon on the Mount is a montage, which is one of many brilliant things about this film. Unlike a lot of Hollywood films, in which the Sermon is treated like a Shakespearean monologue, Pasolini's film captures the essential nature of the text, which is that it pulls together various sayings from various points in Jesus' ministry and deposits them in one place for dramatic/literary structural reasons. Did Pasolini know the scholarship around that? I don't know, but if not, then he had great intuition.

He did not know the scholarship about the Christ. His approach was intensely direct. In a letter to the producer Alfredo Bini he wrote: "Until now, beauty always came to me with an adjective: moral beauty, artistic beauty. Only reading the gospel of Matthew I found absolute beauty." That

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Enrique, are there any stories you can share here about the making of the film, your interaction with Pasolini, your own personal faith, etc.? I love this film and am fascinated and delighted that you've stopped by.

Maybe a question would help: Do you remember how long it took to shoot the Sermon on the Mount sequence? If I recall correctly, doesn't it take place over several days, sometimes in the night, sometimes during the day? I suppose it all could have been shot in a single day. Or maybe I'm misremembering?

I don’t remember if we shot the Sermon in one day. About stories, sure, so many. Maybe the most overwhelming episode took place one morning in the South of Italy, on the beach, when dressed and ready to act I saw a line of older women, impeccably dressed in black, who came towards me and kneeling asked me “Christ! Make a miracle for me!” I tried to explain I was just acting, but they wouldn’t understand. Neither did I.

I apologize for my tortured English. To tell some stories I would need a much better control of the language.

Enrique

Edited by Enir

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Just noticed Netflix will stream this film.

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Nathan Schneider @ Killing the Buddha saw this film with an ex-Catholic friend of his, and finds that his friend -- who was raised in a pre-Vatican II environment -- "wholly recognized" the Jesus of this film: "dark, beautiful, distant, the utterer of hard and strange truths, supplanting all human love with a love wholly other." Schneider, OTOH, doesn't recognize the movie's Jesus "at all": "My Jesus, the post-Vatican II hippie-meets-philosopher, is a poor man with good news." Interesting.

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Just saw this for the first time. I'm slowly working on catching up to everyone else here on the Top 100 list. And so far, it's been a rewarding exercise. This version was fascinating. I really don't have the heart to rank and number "Life of Christ" films for some reason. Some I simply can't stand, others I like. The ones I appreciate get some things right and some things wrong. The Gospel According to Matthew is very likeable. Although, I have to say the soundtrack is the very first thing about it that I was immediately in love with.

On another note, as an avid William F. Buckley, Jr./National Review reader, my marxist/communist idealogy radar didn't pick up anything untoward during the film, even though I was looking for it. I suspect that for anyone watching it, without knowing who the director was, it wouldn't even cross their mind that there was anything Marxist about the film.

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.)

With a couple Italian friends, I can vouch for the fact that Italian is simply a really fast language. Not only do Italians speak too fast all the time, but they are personally of the opinion that English speakers speak much too slowly.

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)

I just ordered the first DVD version that came up on Amazon without really thinking about it. When I turned it on, it was in color, and it was dubbed with English. I lasted five minutes and had to stop. Looking on the "Bonus Features" of the DVD, they thankfully had the black and white undubbed version of the film on the same DVD. So I just started it over. The colorized version was easier to see, but I may not have had the highest quality version in black and white. The dubbing ... well, I can only appreciate that in old kung fu movies.

Hey, I love the Pasolini and the Rossellini, but I think that The Greatest Story Ever Told is incredible cinema. I'm not sure why people dislike it and mock it so vehemently. Maybe they haven't seen it. It's like a Tarkovsky film with movie stars, and dense with ideas and beautiful, rigorous mise-en-scene.

While I'll acknowledge it isn't perfect, I personally love The Greatest Story Ever Told. So many great scenes (the first appearance in the Synagogue, the calling of Matthew, the best John the Baptist on film, a beautiful musical score, etc.). But I can't prefer that one over this one. Instead, I'll just be grateful for the existence of both.

Also, the more Top 100 films I try, the more I'm thankful for Arts and Faith.

Edited by Persiflage

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I saw this for the first time other night, and I instantly fell in love with it.

I’ll save space and just say my thoughts and feelings echo most of MattPage’s on the matter, and I did not share the experience of boredom others have reported. I have a deep appreciation for this film’s ability to quite fairly rework many of my preconceptions about how Jesus’ presented himself.

One scene in particular, Jesus’ matter-of-fact calling of the first disciples, spun me a full 360. It plays out as it is spelled out in the written word. Previously I’d have read those verses and thought, “Matthew is just being concise. It’s not as if Christ simply walks up to a few guys fishing, says ‘Follow me’ and 10 seconds later they find themselves walking behind him.” So in my mind I paint in extra time and extra words spoken, and then Pasolini comes around and shows me how Matthew might’ve been quite literal. Very nice job with those disciple performances too, appearing somewhat coerced, but careful not to look merely brainwashed. They give their characters a balanced “startled by their own decisions” expression.

I loved the lead's intensity. He beautifully represents the Christ I often need to remind myself of.

Terrific score too. Bluesy spirituals? Who would’ve thunk it, but it works marvelously.

Edited by Judo Chop

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Judo, your post makes me so happy. To see someone's first experience with the film, and to remember the first time I watched the movie. It's been a while, but it comes flooding back.

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I saw this for the first time other night, and I instantly fell in love with it.

I am so glad. I love this film.

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Judo, your post makes me so happy. To see someone's first experience with the film, and to remember the first time I watched the movie. It's been a while, but it comes flooding back.

I saw this for the first time other night, and I instantly fell in love with it.

I am so glad. I love this film.

And I am so glad and happy to have helped out! Three cheers to you, Ryan, for recommending it.

I'd like to add that I find a beautiful dichotomy present in the way TGATSM is filmed. Maybe I’m inventing stuff to be excited about now, but I found it be so ‘taught’ in narrative, yet grand and spacious visually, and felt the two working together quite well.

So many memorable scenes. I really want to gush about, but as I said, MattPage covers in earlier posts about everything I have to say.

My brother has just finished up a double masters in Seminary, and these days is finding Matthew to be packed with all kinds of juicy stuff. He wavers constantly about which are his favorite books of the bible as a whole, as well as the gospels in particular. Previously it was John, but it is now Matthew. I am going to insist that he sees this film before he changes his mind again. ;)

So, you two… in your opinions what’s the ‘next best’ Jesus film out there?

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So, you two… in your opinions what’s the ‘next best’ Jesus film out there?

People will bring out the flamethrowers if I say this, but I shall do so anyway.

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.

There. I said it.

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So, you two… in your opinions what’s the ‘next best’ Jesus film out there?

People will bring out the flamethrowers if I say this, but I shall do so anyway.

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST.

There. I said it.

I'll be the first to incinerate the suggestion, but only because I already know about that one and have it coming in Netflix. For that matter, the reason I'm seeing LAST TEMPTATION is not to satisfy a need to see a Jesus film, but to satisfy a need to see a decent film from Scorsese.

So, aside from Marty's heresy, what else measures up?

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I'm not sure if I'd say it's "the best," but Son of Man, which is streaming on netflix, gave me more new things to think about than most Jesus/Bible movies I've seen.

I've wanted to see that for a long time.

People here love THE MIRACLE MAKER. I don't, but I'm not the arbiter of all that is good in the world, so you might want to check it out.

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