Two weeks hence (Monday, 3.26) a Masters of Cinema Bluray of Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s The Gospel According to St. Matthew will be released. It’s my second favorite Jesus drama, the first being Martin Scorsese‘s The Last Temptation of Christ, which Criterion is releasing a Bluray of tomorrow. My admiration is about Pasolini’s refusal (or inability) to play the typical Jesus game. His film is dryer than Scorsese’s, but they’re both about shaking the tree to see what kind of odd fruit falls.
Enrique Irazoqui in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew.
I’ve only seen Pasolini’s film once, but my recollection is that Enrique Irazoqui‘s Christ is the least tender and compassionate of all the Nazarenes in all the Jesus films. Pasolini took the dialogue straight from St. Matthew, but somehow I remember Irazoqui speaking to his costars in a very straightforward manner, like a mathematics teacher instructing students, and being rather stern and blunt about it. He seemed to always be saying “I don’t want to hear any more of your bullshit, and I’m sure as shit not here to add to the bullshit…I am what I am and the truth is the truth, and if I were you I’d listen up because I’m not here to fuck around.”
Remember when Last Temptation‘s Willem Dafoe tells Harvey Keitel that all the love stuff is yesterday’s news and that now he’s all about the axe? That’s what the Pasolini film is like all the way through.
You know what I’d like to see? A Jesus movie written by Quentin Tarantino. Seriously. It would be worth it just for the reactions it would stir from the Rick Santorum crowd.
Pasolini “employed some of the techniques of Italian neorealism in the making of his film,” says the Wiki page. “Most of the actors he hired were amateurs. Irazoqui was a 19-year-old economics student from Spain, and the rest of the cast were mainly locals from Barile, Matera and Massafra, where the film was shot.”