The Gospel According to Matthew

In the opening scene where the viewer is introduced to the Virgin Mary, she is standing looking blankly into the camera in front of an arch way.  By positioning her in this spot, we get the sense that she is indeed Devine and cherished by God.  Also, while Mary stands there, we see Joseph walking away from her with no music or dialogue, only the sounds of nature.  The lack of background noise, just the birds chirping gives a dramatic feel and sets the tone for the rest of the film.

This is obviously not a big budget movie.  Little expense was spent on special effect to make the miracle scenes more real.  In a very simple way, the miracle is presented to the audience and then with a cut to another person or scenery, it goes back to the miracle at hand and it has occurred off camera.   This does not take away from the power of the miracles, in a way it adds to the mystery of Jesus’ powers and abilities.  The only miracle we see on screen occurring is when Jesus walks on water which was done very nicely to give the desired effect.  The only part where some kind of effects or special techniques had to be used was when Judas hung himself.  I am not quite sure how they accomplished this scene without hurting the actor.

Throughout the film, there are long stretches of dialogue where Jesus speaks directly into the camera.  By having this happen, it is as though Jesus is speaking directly to you, the viewer.  This can evoke a greater sense of connection to the story.  There is a part of the film (57:25) where Jesus is giving a speech as he stands at the edge of a building while his disciples are below him on steps.  This was a visual indication that Jesus is above all men and closer to God.  Another speech of Jesus’ which makes the viewer feel that they are there is when the camera is not simply focused on one specific aspect.  The camera is almost like a personal view of an audience member walking through the crowd to get closer to Jesus as he speaks.

A striking moment during the crucifixion scene is when I realized that there is no sound from the scene at hand, only music playing.  We do not hear cries from the Virgin Mary, anything the guards may be saying, the smack of the hammer as they nail Jesus to the cross- Nothing.  I feel that this relates to the fact that Jesus remains silent during his crucifixion, and the music, as well as the facial expressions of the witnesses, conveys all the emotion needed.

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