Looking through bubuweb, I came across the Pasolini film “Seeking Locations in Palestine for the Film “The Gospel According to Matthew.”
In 1963, accompanied by a newsreel photographer and a Catholic priest, Piero Paolo Pasolini traveled to Palestine to investigate the possibility of filming his biblical epic The Gospel According to Matthew in its approximate historical locations. Edited by The Gospel‘s producer for potential funders and distributors, Seeking Locations in Palestine features semi-improvised commentary from Pasolini as its only soundtrack. As we travel from village to village, we listen to Pasolini’s idiosyncratic musings on the teachings of Christ and witness his increasing disappointment with the people and landscapes he sees before him. Israel, he laments, is much too modern. The Palestinians, much too wretched; it would be impossible to believe the teachings of Jesus had reached these faces. The Gospel According to Matthew was ultimately filmed in Southern Italy. Mel Gibson would use some of the same locations forty years later for The Passion of the Christ.
Tiffany Malakooti of Bidoun speaks about bubuweb and the Pasolini film among others here:
I first heard of the film through a reflection on it by Palestinian artist Ayreen Anastas called Pasolini Pa* Palestine (2005). Anastas talks about this project in the following video:
Anastas notes that in her version, “this was another Pasolini that I wished had gone there, to Hebron at the time…the other documentaries of Pasolini are for me much more interesting so I was trying to do a game with Pasolini and bring the Pasolini who went to Africa and India, which are also in a way problematic but quite interesting…he’s going to gather ideas and project ideas onto the landscape…so this attempt for me touches on the question of landscape which is a political question and also a poetic question because it is related to the imaginary, about the image, this kind of idea about the Biblical landscape.”
Pasolini Pa* Palestine is an attempt to repeat Pasolini’s trip to Palestine in his film, Seeking Locations in Palestine for “The Gospel According to Matthew” (1963). It adapts his script into a route map superimposed on the current landscape, creating contradictions and breaks between the visual and the audible, the expected and the real. The video explores the question of repetition. For Heidegger Wiederholung ‘repetition, retrieval’ is one of the terms he uses for the appropriate attitude toward the past. “By the repetition of a basic problem we understand the disclosure of its original, so far hidden possibilities.” The project ventures a conversation and a dialogue with Pasolini, especially his Poem for the Third World. Discutere ‘to smash to pieces’ is the Latin source of dialogue, discussion. The piece does not criticize Pasolini, but reveals unnoticed possibilities in his thought and works back to the ‘experiences’ that inspired it.