The Gospel According to St. Matthew
Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew pulls off the not inconsiderable trick of imbuing the familiar Biblical story with Pasolini's own special brand of Marxism. The film eschews the usual Hollywoodized reverence afforded religious stories, opting for a near-documentary approach with nonprofessionals in the leading roles. Christ and his followers are depicted as gentle radicals working against the grain of the unjust Roman power structure -- and despite this flirtation with charges of blasphemy, the film is more spiritually faithful to the writings of St. Matthew than most "straight" approaches to the material. 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. Filmed in Southern Italy (with no effort made to disguise this fact, nor to hide the anachronisms inherent in such a setting), The Gospel According to St. Matthew was well-distributed internationally, enjoying a far wider critical appraisal than most of Pasolini's earlier works. The DVD release offers a never-before-released documentary on the director.