Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Gospel According to St. Matthew

Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964, Italy (9.0*)
Pasolini's intention was to film the gospel verbatim, without Hollywood scripting, without blue-eyed, blond Jesus actors - his actor was a Spanish student, Enrique Irazoqui, who'd never made a film - this works much better than using an established actor. Compare this to the U.S. films that used Max Von Sydow and Jeffrey Hunter (both blond and blue-eyed!)

The story is totally unembellished, so it appears fragmented and fast-paced. The extras are all Mediterraneans, so they look authenic for once. The settings are very sparse, primitive, and poor. Roger Ebert said "it looks like a documentarian with a low budget followed Jesus around", and gave it 5*'s, his top rating. It's like NO other religious film I've seen: grainy, gritty, realistic, almost manic and fanatical in places.

Make sure you view the subtitled, black and white original version. There's an awful dubbed version, and even a colorized version out there. The disk I rented had the original, and the colorized/dubbed one both - they managed to ruin it both ways in one version.

#103 on our "Top Ranked 1000" films compiled from internet polls

Pasolini was murdered in Italy in 1975 after making a dozen films, most say by the neo-fascist right wing. He had just completed "Salo", based on the Marquis de Sade.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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