Salt of the Earth

With The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Pier Paolo Pasolini likened the Messiah's sacred flock to the lumpen proletariat

If the essence of the Gospel is the inevitability of human suffering, Pasolini's crucifixion scene follows suit by refusing to let the viewer off the hook. Blatantly unsentimental even in its silent cinema-style shots of Christ's hysterically sobbing mother (who, appropriately, appears even more tortured than the man on the cross), this rather utilitarian denouement isn't so much about the glorious gift of Jesus dying for "our" sins as it is about the stubborn withholding of catharsis. Confrontational to the very end, Pasolini dispenses even more swiftly with the resurrection (no Hollywood magic here, either), leaving the viewer safe only in the knowledge of continued struggle. Such holy frustration calls to mind a critique leveled years ago by Scorsese's own parish priest, who complained of Taxi Driver: "Too much Good Friday, not enough Easter Sunday."

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