Thursday, July 12, 2007
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES (ATTI DEGLI APOSTOLI, 1969, Italy/France/Germany/Spain/Tunisia, Roberto Rossellini, screenplay with Vittorio Bonicelli / Jean-Dominique de la Rochefoucauld / Luciano Scaffa)
They won’t change the world.
This exceedingly faithful (and strongly Jewish) treatment of the New Testament book of Acts is one of the more accessible of Rossellini’s televised history films, a five-plus hour miniseries that uses long, unedited shots to create a sense of realism and evoke the slower pace of another century. There is something Franciscan in the way Jesus followers “gossip the gospel,” carrying out their evangelism in the doing of simple physical work, isolated from one another, unaware of the impact their words are having in the wider world. Miracles are described but only one or two are portrayed on-screen, and the highly dramatic events of Paul’s journey to Rome are skipped. Naturalistic performances and flat English dubbing may make the film a tough go for many viewers, but its emphasis on the commonplace and avoidance of melodrama add credibility and another sort of appeal – the matter-of-fact beheading of James suggests Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts, where “even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course / Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot / Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s hourse / Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.”
PETER AND PAUL, THE FLOWERS OF SAINT FRANCIS, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW
Matt Page has a very nice piece on the films at his Bilbe Films Blog, and there are great notes in connection to the Rossellini Retrospective that's been touring around.