The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

If I told you I just saw a movie made in Italy in the 1960s where people stare at each other while the wind blows, and with the sound of horses whinnying or roosters crowing in the background, you would probably guess that I had seen a spaghetti Western by Sergio Leone. But no, it was this Jesus movie, The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Because the movie is filmed in gritty black and white, you would almost think that documentary footage of the life of Jesus had been found.

Unlike other Jesus movies, this one actually has Jesus talking about sending people to Hell. Other Jesus movies play it safe with the Beatitudes. There might be mention of the “gates of Hell” as Jesus gives Peter the keys of the Kingdom, but that is about it. However, the Jesus in this movie spends half his time talking about Hell and the people who are likely to go there.

This movie does have one thing in common with Hollywood Jesus movies: there is not one word about divorce being a sin and that those who remarry are committing adultery. No Jesus movie has the guts to touch that subject.

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