XL Popcorn – The Gospel According to St. Matthew

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 441/1007Title: The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Il Vangelo secondo Matteo)
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Year: 1964
Country: Italy

Going into this the only other film I had seen by Pier Paolo Pasolini was the very controversial Salò. Not exactly an easy film to watch if you are easily shockable – rape, murder, cophrophagia, scalping and… just a whole lot of unpleasantness.

So, the fact that Il Vangelo secondo Matteo is widely seen as one of the best spiritually themed films, as well as being a reverential and faithful (pun unintended) adaptation of a biblical text, is nothing short of bizarre.

And faithful it is too. The film takes only from Matthew’s gospel and other than some rearranging it is pretty accurate. Well, accurate in the terms of staying true to the Bible that is.

One thing about this film is that whilst it was beautifully shot (and had a rather beautiful man taking on the role of Jesus), I know that a lot of this was lost on me because I am not a believer. It actually made me look at this film at a slightly different angle albeit one that got a bit bored of a lot of the scripture when it took a narrative turn and it was just Jesus speaking.

Honestly, watching this as a non-believer was interesting since a lot of it, including the cutaway healing of a leper, just felt a little bit far-fetched. I know that if I did believe it would have effected me on a different level. For now, it was an interesting watch.

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