5 March 2004 | oznickolaus
Beautifully filmed and "Biblically" interesting....
There are exactly 12 lines in the Bible that mention Mary Magdalene by name. She is said to have had 7 demons cast out of her by Jesus and to have helped fund His ministry. She was also present at the Crucifixion, along with Mary the Mother, and the first apostle Jesus appeared to after His Resurrection. She was asked by Jesus to take a message to the rest of His followers. That's it. That's the extent of what we "officially" know about Mary from Magdala.
Pope Gregory preached a sermon in the late 6th century that merged Mary Magdalene with two other biblical characters: an unnamed "sinful woman" in the gospel of Luke who anoints Jesus' feet with perfume poured from an alabaster jar and dries them with her hair, and Mary of Bethany, the sister of Jesus' friend Lazarus whom he raised from the dead. So common misbelief is that Mary was a repentant prostitute, when in reality she was most likely Jesus' closest apostle.
Raffaele Mertes' 1999/2000 film takes Mary's 12 lines in the Bible and elaborates on them to create a very beautiful, if not historically interesting story. Like with most Bible based films, artistic liberties need to be taken to create a full length movie. "Maria Maddalena" is no exception.
Former Bond girl Maria Grazia Cucinotta makes a wonderful Mary Magdalene, not just physically, but her acting as well. The character she is given to work with is a very angry, revenge hungry woman, set out to avenge her divorce and brutal rape at the hands of Roman guards. Cucinotta's Mary just wants to be loved. She has been betrayed by men and her anger is really the result of hurt. She does an amazing job showing the audience her plea for love using her very expressive eyes. On a personal note, Cucinotta has become my favorite Magdalene in the movies.
The interesting twist to this film, is Mary's connection with Herodias and John the Baptist. No Biblical or historical source has ever linked Mary to the other two, but in film form, it makes for a very beautiful story.
Benjamin Sadler's John the Baptist has now become my favorite interpretation of the character on film. He is the "wild man" we tent to associate with him, without going over the top. He is also VERY compassionate, asking Mary questions of her, not for his knowledge, but for her. He has a kindness in his face and demeanor that I have never seen in the Baptist before. It made knowing the outcome of his fate all the harder.
While I don't recommend using this film as the sole basis for your beliefs about Mary Magdalene, it is in no was a waste of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The version I saw, as part of the "Close to Jesus" DVD set, Was partially filmed in English, but dubbed throughout. I'm NOT a fan of dubbing, but it didn't bother me in this film.
Incidentally, "Maria Maddalena" is part of a Biblical trilogy, also containing "Giuda" (Judas) and "Tommaso" (Thomas). The brilliant thing about these three films, is that the same actors play the same roles in all three films, each told from a different point of view. All three movies al available on DVD here in the USA, in the "Close to Jesus" 4 disc set, the 4th film being "Giuseppe di Nazareth" (Joseph of Nazareth), and earlier work by director Raffaele Mertes.