Pier Paolo Pasolini was an Italian filmmaker who was also a poet, essayist, marxist and homosexual. But he was in all things an outsider. He was shunned by the Catholic bourgeoisie for his marxist views and his homosexuality. The marxists shunned him for not toeing the line in his philosophy. And his writings on film and literary theory were often dismissed by the intelligentsia because of his lack of academic credentials and a perceived lack of rigor in his work. It is, therefore, in many ways ironic that one of his most successful films is this adaptation of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Yet the principal force in Pasolini's life, to which all others were subordinate, was passion. And in all of literature there is no greater example of unrationalized passion than the story of Christ and his death.
Pasolini's style is that of a poet, which of course he was. Thus the scenario is paced more by the concerns of poetry than those of narrative. The camera often pauses on faces or scenes, forcing the viewer to reflect on them. When used sparingly this can be very effective, but when done too often it loses its value and can become tiresome. Like almost all of his works, this film could stand some editing. And the low-budget miracles would have been better left to their role as allegories; in the film they too often come off as mere photographic tricks.