Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew)

1964

Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew)

Critics Consensus

The Gospel According to St. Matthew forgoes the pageantry of biblical epics in favor of a naturalistic retelling of the Christ story, achieving a respectful if not reverent interpretation with political verve.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 34

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,329
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Movie Info

Relating his facts in straight-on documentary fashion, Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1964 Biblical film stars Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus. In it, Christ and his followers are depicted as gentle radicals working against the grain of the unjust Roman power structure. Typically offbeat Pasolini touches include having Satan disguise himself as a Catholic priest and the casting of the director's own mother as the Virgin Mary. The music is selected from a variety of sources, from Bach to American spirituals. Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo was released in the U.S. as The Gospel According to St. Matthew -- much to the discomfort of Pasolini, who didn't want Matthew designated as a saint. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Cast

Margherita Caruso
as Mary (younger)
Susanna Pasolini
as Mary (older)
Mario Socrate
as John the Baptist
Guido Cerretani
as Bartholomew
Luigi Barbini
as James, Son of Alpheus
Marcello Galdini
as James, son of Zebedee
Elio Spaziani
as Thaddeus
Alessandro Tasca
as Pontius Pilate
Amerigo Bevilacqua
as Herod the Great
Francesco Leonetti
as Herod Antipas
Franca Cupane
as Herodias
Rosana di Rocco
as Angel of the Lord
Eliseo Boschi
as Joseph of Arimathea
Natalia Ginzburg
as Mary of Bethany
Ninetto Davoli
as A young shepherd
Renato Terra
as A pharisee
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Critic Reviews for Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew)

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (8)

Audience Reviews for Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew)

  • Feb 06, 2012
    Pasolini's "The Gospel According to St. Matthew" begins as an intriguing tale about an intense preacher in ancient times, but the plot turns less plausible as the film continues and the character gains various magical powers. Too bad. Wonderful locations and hats, though.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 01, 2010
    Pasolini seems to assume that everyone knows the story by heart and therefore glosses over some passages making it feel too eventful; even so, there is an astonishing baroque intensity in what we witness here, as though he traveled in time with a camera to register those epic moments.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 27, 2009
    <i>"He that loveth father or mother, son or daughter... more than me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it. He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."</i> <CENTER><u>IL VANGELO SECONDO MATTEO (1964)</u></CENTER> <b>Director:</b> Pier Paolo Pasolini <b>Country:</b> Italy / France <b>Genre:</b> Biography / Drama <b>Length:</b> 137 minutes <CENTER><a href="http://s712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/Decorated%20images/?action=view¤t=virginmary_gospelaccordingtomatthew.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/Decorated%20images/virginmary_gospelaccordingtomatthew.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a></CENTER> On the endless path of finding the style that would recognize him as a visionary auteur, acclaimed Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini directs what is arguably the best film of his entire filmography, and one of the most marvelously inspiring. Ultimately, it is the most faithful and moving adaptations of the true story of the life of Jesus Christ. Curiously enough, it resorts to a beautiful neorealist style to enlighten the visual beauty and wonderful nature of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the first book of the New Testament of the Holy Bible. Despite its significantly low budget, an extraordinarily developed technicality and its resulting final outcome are the principal undeniable qualities of the film, thanks to the director's vision that was still in the process of being established, finalizing with the creation of his Mythical Cycle that included the films <i>Edipo Re</i> (1967), <i>Teorema</i> (1968), <i>Porcile</i> (1969) and <i>Medea</i> (1969). The reasons and motivations behind the creation of this film remain extremely unclear. It is noticeable how Pasolini intended to portray Jesus Christ as the greatest revolutionary of all time, but being a Marxist and a homosexual director makes its audience to stop and think what motivated Pasolini to ironically direct the best version of a Gospel in motion picture history, a cinematic project that undoubtedly surpasses any blasphemous, historically inaccurate version directed by Hollywood, including the pretentious remake of <i>King of Kings</i> (1961), the tedious <i>The Greatest Story Ever Told</i> (1965), and the blasphemous and confused <i>The Last Temptation of the Christ</i> (1988), let alone the extremely idiotic, moronic, insulting, stereotypical, exaggerated and extraordinarily awful <i>Jesus Christ Superstar</i> (1973). I won't even dare to mention the title of Mel Gibson's pathetic, supposedly Catholic statement. The film bases its script and storytelling on half of the text of Matthew, retelling the story of Christ from the moment of the conception of Joseph's wife, Mary, by the Holy Spirit, to His prophesized crucifixion. It follows the most important teachings and parables told to the multitudes and His disciples, and the most relevant events of His life, including the increase of bread and fish, the walk over water and the resulting lack of faith of Peter, the persecution organized by the Scribes and Priests, the last Supper, His arrival to Jerusalem, his constant criticism against the Pharisees and His resurrection, restoring the faith of the devastated disciples and ordering them to disseminate the Gospel to the towns of the world. The film received 3 Academy Award nominations in 1967 for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, and Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment, unfairly losing against the inferior films <i>Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?</i> (1966) and <i>A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum</i> (1966). However, Pasolini won both the OCIC Award and the Special Jury Prize at the prestigious Venice Film Festival of 1964. He was also nominated for the Golden Lion, losing it against Michelangelo Antonioni's <i>Il Deserto Rosso</i> (1964). The sore beauty and amazement of <i>Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo</i> irradiates from its simplicity and its faithfulness. Thanks to its neorealist style, it becomes a wonderful journey to experience. A film that has served as an inspirational Italian sample of filmmaking was the result of the work of an auteur that fully comprehends the honesty and historical accuracy cinema as an art should contain. Is it, therefore, an unwatchable film for atheist masses? No. <i>Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo</i> conforms a cinematic visual feast that is, in the end of terms, a "hard-not-to-fall-in-love-with" movie. The language is not distracting, but poetical and beautiful. The editing, due to the low budget, may seem amateurish and inexperienced, but it is not. A lot of hard work is implicitly shown during the editing process, accomplishing to create scenes that the financial means did not fully allow. Such aspect is compensated with literally one of the most inspirational musical scores ever heard by human ears, ranging from eastern joyful traditional music to pieces of Johann Sebastian Bach, Sergej Prokofiev, Anton Webern and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It may be repeated in several scenes, but the treatment it receives and the joy it transmits is modernly unparalleled. The art direction, the costume design and the cinematography are, by their own terms, near to perfection. Some proclaim the costume design as poor and boring. It is not poor and boring, it is accurate! Hollywood stereotypical "holy" music full of chants, false dialogues and luxurious and colorful costume designs are the visual beliefs that have been blasphemously popularized in American culture. <i>Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo</i> possesses a sincerity that Hollywood could never have. Such characteristic can even be noticed in the overall depiction of the low-class people and citizens, who showed a rather unpleasant physical appearance and facial features. Both the physical resemblance interpretation by Pasolini concerning the characters of Joseph, Mary, Jesus Christ and the disciples is astonishingly impressive and non-stereotypical. The neorealist performances are pretty much convincing. Once again, irony is served since the best cinematic Jesus Christ performance ever offered was in charge of an agnostic person... an agnostic actor under the direction of an atheist filmmaker. You may attribute the credit to the revolutionary ideas spoken by Jesus Christ and His defiance of abusive human authorities and governments and compare it with Pasolini's Marxist ideals; you may attribute the credit to the influence on modern Christianity and the strength that the Catholic Church has gained around the world; you may attribute the credit to the inspiration and controversy that the Holy Bible, as a group of texts written in a period longer than 2,000 years of human history, has achieved through more than 2 millenniums; you may attribute the credit to a possible intentional pride of the director and its cast. The truth is that its effect on cinema fans has been a very evident consequence, not to mention it is Pasolini's best film. The faithfulness of the adaptation is the most glorious accomplishment of this magnum opus. As a homage to Italian neorealism, it effectively works, surpassing such task. However, it is much more than that. <i>Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo</i> is an unprecedented masterpiece from beginning to end that brings tears of both amazement and restored faith to worldwide masses, and a powerful religious statement that was capable of even improving the wrong visual lavishness of Cecil B. DeMille's silent classic <i>The King of Kings</i> (1927). The film is dedicated to the "beloved, happy, familiar" memory of John XXIII. 100/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Nov 02, 2008
    the most beautiful gospel film i have seen...made by an openly gay communist and dedicated to the pope. amazing faces!
    Stella D Super Reviewer

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