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also known as Il vangelo secondo Matteo

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew1965

  • 4.4
The birth, life, teachings and death on the cross of Jesus Christ presented almost as a cinéma-vérité documentary. Pasolini's second feature seemed a strange choice for such a revolutionary director, but it is an attempt to take Christ out of the opulent church and present him as an outcast Italian peasant. Applying Neo-Realist methods, the director shot in Calabria, using the expressive faces of non-professionals including that of his mother as the Virgin Mary. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MATTHEW is considered the greatest screen version of the "greatest story ever told" and this freshly remastered version brings the film to life in a away that has never been seen before. Nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Music at the 1967 Academy Awards®.

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Member Reviews (6)


Such a powerful film! I love the scene on Mount Vesuvius. Great use of natural locations.

1 member likes this review
top reviewer

Has the look and feel of a silent era film. Grossly inaccurate historically. I would recommend this film only for interest in cinema history. One may ask why so many pretty boys in the film. Some history of the director will reveal the answer...

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–75) was a transgressor. His teaching career was ruined in 1949 when political enemies publicized his homosexuality, leading to his trial for seducing three teenage boys, expulsion from the Communist Party and loss of his teaching post. His life on the sexual fringes in Rome is portrayed in his early novels Ragazzi di Vita and Una vita violenta, and most notably in his provocative film Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom, an analysis of Fascism in terms of sexual sadism. The erotic films Trilogy of Life made him famous in the 1970s, and portrayed a world of sexual innocence, paralleling his own longing for an uncomplicated life with "bands of twenty-year-old youths who laugh with their innocent male voices and take no notice of the world around them, continuing along their lives, filling the night with their shouts." His film work, such as the mystical–ideological Teorema, was complemented by numerous controversial articles advocating political and religious reform. A large volume of his homoerotic poetry, including a cycle written for Ninetto Davoli the cute actor who appeared in his films, has not been published. Pasolini had many brief encounters in the suburban cinemas of Rome, in Trastevere, on building sites, and regularly on the via del Tritone. In November 1975 he was murdered by a piece of rough trade he had picked up in Ostia, seventeen-year-old Pino the Frog, who beat him with a nail-encrusted board and then ran over him with a sports car. The Communists claimed he was killed by the Fascists, who had staged the encounter with the hustler to discredit him. This is probably wishful thinking by intellectuals who find a politically motivated death less disturbing than sexual violence...

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“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

top reviewer

Pasolini's use of handheld cameras, black and white film, available light, and natural locations gives this version of the the life and death of Jesus a cinéma vérité feel. Using African-American blues in the musical soundtrack is another inspired choice.

Also, by keeping the camera away from the action during Jesus's accusation and trial by Jewish and Roman authorities Pasolini places the viewer in the scene as well. I found myself moving from side to side trying to see around the head of the man who was placed directly in front of the camera's eye. Wonderful decision on the filmmaker's part.

Unbelievably moving in its simplicity. Maybe the most authentically ancient-feeling film I've ever seen; strangely enough, its almost self-consciously eclectic soundtrack is a big part of that. Rarely has a director - or any artist, for that matter - had an eye for human faces like Pasolini's. That he was able to cast such a wide variety of amateurs and direct them to such moving performances - even the dozens of bit players - is astonishing.

Interesting translation of a story changed a thousand times.

Atheist, Communist and homosexual, Pier Paulo Pasolini delivers a powerful retelling of St. Matthew's gospel in all of its primitive simplicity and purity.