Pasolini’s Matthew coming to Vancouver!

Wow, good news! I just got the newest Pacific Cinematheque program, and apparently we are about to be treated to “the most comprehensive retrospective of [Pier Paolo Pasolini’s] work ever presented in Vancouver”!

This, of course, will include The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), widely regarded by many as the best film to be based on the gospels so far; even Mel Gibson paid it homage by shooting his own The Passion of the Christ (2004) in the same region of Italy where Pasolini made his film. (There are a few overlapping ironies here, as Pasolini was a gay atheist Marxist who dedicated his film to Pope John XXIII, who convened Vatican II; whereas Gibson is a deeply traditionalist, and some would argue homophobic, Catholic who rejects all the popes since Vatican II.)

But the great surprise, for me, is the news that, on June 19, Matthew will be preceded by this unexpected delight:

Seeking Locations in Palestine for “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”
(Sopralluoghi in Palestina per “Il Vangelo secondo Matteo”)

Italy 1964.
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
With: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Don Andrea Carraro

Pasolini ended up filming The Gospel According to St. Matthew in southern Italy (Mel Gibson would use some of the same locations forty years later for The Passion of the Christ), but he originally planned to shoot in the Holy Lands. This diary-on-film has Pasolini and his team visiting Galilee, Jordan, Damascus, Bethlehem and Jerusalem – and coming to the conclusion, with disappointment, that Matthew would have to be made elsewhere. B&W;, VHS video, in Italian with English subtitles. 52 mins.

Has this behind-the-scenes short ever been included on any of the various DVD versions of Matthew? If so, then that’s the copy I want!

FWIW, I have never written an article or essay on Matthew, per se, but I do devote three-and-a-half paragraphs to it in this article that I wrote for Books & Culture, as well as two paragraphs in this review of W. Barnes Tatum’s book, and two more in this essay on point-of-view shots that I wrote for Re-Viewing The Passion.

JULY 11 UPDATE: I went, I saw, I blogged.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).

  • Matt Page

    how envious am I?


  • John

    I wondered if Mel Gibson, though a traditionalist, actually does reject all the popes since Vatican II. I have searched but have never found that he does. Can you tell me where you found that info?

  • qraal

    Mel’s father is one of an off-shoot group that have rejected all the current popes as anti-popes and have even elected their own pope, Linus II.