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Released in 1964, The Gospel According to St. Matthew marks an important shift away from the gritty urban realism of Pasolini's earlier films towards the visionary imagery of his later work. A committed but far from conformist Marxist, Pasolini took a powerful and immediate approach, with no false piety or sentimentality. Employing a cast drawn largely from the peasantry of Southern Italy, where the film was shot, the action has the feel of a mystery play reenacted for the camera. Enrique Irazoqui's Christ is part folk hero, part political agitator, but always pursuing his destiny with unswerving conviction. The disciples make for vivid contrasts in facial expression, while Susanna Pasolini (mother of) is unforgettable as Mary, distraught at the Crucifixion. The recourse to handheld cameras and zoom sequences is well ahead of its time, while the almost jump-cut editing and diverse soundtrack--including Bach, Mozart and the Missa Luba--enhance the sense of action being experienced as it happens. A classic of post-war cinema which has lost none of its urgent humanity.

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LEG0422 Gospel According To St. Matthew DVD (1964/Pier Paolo Pasolini) $14.95