Saturday, March 24, 2018

Mary Magdalene

Mrs maytrees and yours truly went to the local HMV Curzon cinema to see the film 'Mary Magdalene'. 

Next week being Holy Week climaxing with Easter Sunday, is probably a reason for the timing of the film's first public viewings. In any event a good opportunity to consider the scenes portrayed, from a different perspective from those in the written gospels.

The film was reviewed fairly poorly in The Times, reasonably well in the Daily Telegraph, and there was a Guardian review. signifying that it was good viewing for those who are of the Christian faith.

We attended the cinema at an off peak week-day lunchtime so the comparatively small number of film buffs in attendance was as expected. More surprising however was the fact that I was the only male member of the viewers present. Strange because the account portrayed is certainly interesting for all who are adult or should I say, 'grown up'.

The film is excellent in my view, though concentrating the 30  years  or so of the life of Christ into 120 minutes, inevitably results in many omissions. 

The story commences with Mary Magdalene's home life followed by her departure with Jesus and his disciples  at which point  the sadness of members of her family at her departure is well portrayed. The parts are excellently acted with Peter (Chiwetel Ejioror)  being particularly interesting. Mary Magdalene (Rooney Mara) is also of course extremely good though given the Middle Eastern location, she is perhaps too fair skinned. 

Mary's possible role in spreading the gospel message was interesting as were her challenges to some of the other disciples and their difficulties in accepting her role, bearing in mind the contrasting lives in society  of men and women at the time of Christ. The photography was sometimes stark, often inspiring and always absorbing. 

For me the film brought to life, parts of Christian beliefs that are often hard work to assimilate through the written word alone.

The betrayal by Judas and his subsequent  suicidal death by hanging is very brief. The Agony in the Garden is well portrayed though there is no scene of Peter attacking a Roman soldier. The stations of the cross including the crucifixion are well handled. The pain  of Christ his mother and Mary Magdalene are clear cut  and well portrayed with not too much gore. It was disappointing for me  anyway, that there was no real reference to Pontius Pilate given his importance  in Israel at the time. Perhaps as a result, the crucifixion itself did not display the INRI inscription or Pilate's comment on that ,to the effect "what I have written I have written."

Overall though a good film imho.

The credits at the end of the film included the statement made  by a pope in c. 550AD to the effect that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. Interestingly this statement in the film's credits was was immediately followed by that made by Pope Francis in 2017 to the effect that she is 'An apostle of Hope for the World'.

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