I am not particularly keen on biblical films, with the notable and unapologetic exception of Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ. These films tend to suffer from unnecessary sentimentality and a strange romantic view, especially of Jesus Christ; this tendency robs the viewer of the power of the biblical stories, regardless of our individual faiths. Pasolini, however, gets it right: the gentleness and turmoil of Christ, the craggy, unforgiving landscapes which test the disciples’ faith, the beauty of faces who believe. Even non-believers, I think, will momentarily have faith in film’s ability to transport and to linger in those places which we might bypass. Or at least have faith in the astonishing sequences of near-quiet, save for the angelic strains of Bach.
Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo. Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini. Arco Film et al., 1964. In Italian.
Museum of Modern Art: Pier Paolo Pasolini