Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pasolini visits the Holy Land @ FilmChat

I am gradually catching up with what I've missed on all the blogs in recent weeks and here's a post that's unmissable for Jesus film buffs:

Pasolini Visits the Holy Land

In it Peter Chattaway describes a film shown as part of a Pasolini retrospective all about Pier Paolo Pasolini's scouting trip to Israel to search for locations for The Gospel According to St Matthew:
. . . . there was Seeking Locations in Palestine for The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), a sort of diary-on-film in which Pasolini tours the Holy Land -- usually in the company of a Catholic priest, Fr. Andrea Carraro -- and comes to the realization that he may not be able to make his adaptation of Matthew's gospel there after all. Since this is a very hard film to come by, I took notes obsessively during this particular screening.

The film opens with a farmer threshing his grain, and Pasolini tells us, "That's what I sought with great hope, a biblical, archaic world." At Mt. Tabor, where the Beatitudes were delivered, he says, "I was struck by the poverty and humility of this place," and soon after, he says of another place, "Capernaum is sublime for its smallness, its bareness, its lack of scenery." But already he bemoans how the nearby landscape has been "contaminated by modernity ... These houses could be seen in Rome or Switzerland." Fr. Andrea suggests that he should continue with his travels through Palestine, absorbing the spirit of the place, and then feel free to recreate the biblical story in whatever setting seems right to him. Pasolini replies, "I think I have completely transformed my idea of sacred places. Rather than adapt places, I must adapt myself.". . . .
This is just an excerpt -- it's all worth reading. I'd love to see the film. I hope someone releases it on DVD. Thanks to Peter for this excellent summary and related observations.

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