The Gospel According to St. Matthew (film)

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The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Italian: Il Vangelo secondo Matteo) is a 1964 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

The dialogue is primarily taken directly from the Gospel, as Pasolini felt that "images could never reach the poetic heights of the text."[1] He reportedly chose the Gospel of Matthew over the others because he had decided that "John was too mystical, Mark too vulgar, and Luke too sentimental."[2]



Pasolini dedicated the film to Pope John XXIII, because the then Pope was indirectly responsible for its creation. The story is that Pasolini was trapped in an enormous traffic jam in Florence due to a papal visit to the city. In frustration, Pasolini had checked into a hotel room where he picked up a copy of the New Testament from the bedside table, a common text in hotel rooms in Italy, and read through Matthew. What he discovered in those pages so startled him that he determined to make a film using no text but the actual words from Matthew’s gospel. As a reputed atheist, the reverential nature of his film was surprising, but Pasolini himself said "If you know that I am an unbeliever, then you know me better than I do myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief."[citation needed] The film's credits include the announcement that it is dedicato alla cara, lieta, familiare memoria ("dedicated to the dear, joyous, familiar memory") of Pope John XXIII. Pasolini had previously been sentenced to jail for the allegedly blasphemous and obscene content of his contribution to the anthology film RoGoPaG


Pasolini used some of the techniques of Italian neorealism. All of the actors are amateurs: Enrique Irazoqui (Jesus) was a 19 year old student from Spain, and the rest of the cast were mainly locals from Barile, Matera and Massafra (Italy), where the film was shot (Pasolini visited the Holy Land but found the locations unsuitable and "commercialized").[3] Pasolini cast his own mother, Susanna, as the elderly mother of Jesus, and Natalia Ginzburg as Mary of Bethany.

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