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Pier Paolo Pasolini

Sunday, September 22, 2013
5:00 p.m. The Gospel According to St. Matthew
Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy, 1964)

New 35mm Print!

(Il Vangelo secondo Matteo). What was seen in 1964 as a daringly direct, almost reportorial account of the Gospel of St. Matthew, set against the everyday life of the times, today looks like a radically stylized classic. Pasolini employed a cast of nonprofessional actors, and settings of rugged Southern Italian landscapes and hill towns, shot with a mixture of cinema-verité techniques, expressive close-ups, and ingenious set pieces. His Christ (Catalonian economics student Enrique Irazoqui) is an anguished and determined revolutionary, setting children against their parents as he has turned against his, a peripatetic preacher against the afflictions of social injustice. (He has an artist’s ego: “Only in his own country, a prophet goes unhonored.”) His miracles are as matter-of-fact as Pasolini’s pageantry is gritty. The faces Pasolini has chosen are those of the rural proletariat, but they evoke parallels with Italian religious art; similarly, the music is a mixture of black spirituals, the Missa Luba, and Bach.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Pasolini, based on the New Testament Book of Matthew. Photographed by Tonino Delli Colli. With Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso, Susanna Pasolini, Marcello Morante. (137 mins, In Italian with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Luce Cinecittà, permission Compass Film)