Mary Magdalene: Close to Jesus
For Ages 12 and Over
When the marriage between AMOS and MARY MAGDALENE turns out to be childless, he casts her out and gets a divorce. Mary has to leave Magdala. She befriends SILVANO, a Roman prefect, who promises her a new life at his side. A few days after her departure Mary meets the prophet JOHN THE BAPTIST whom Silvano suspects of being a revolutionary. The prefect tells her to cultivate John more intensively. In this way Mary becomes acquainted with the teaching of the coming Messiah, and it begins to interest her. To protect John from the Romans she pretends to Silvano that he is harmless – but when the prefect finds out how dangerous John is in the eyes of the tetrarch HEROD ANTIPAS, he feels he was wronged and purposely tricked by Mary. He casts her out as well. After a suicide attempt, Mary lowers herself to prostitution. HERODIAS, the wife of Herod Antipas, invites Mary to come to her because of her knowledge of the healing arts. In this way she gets to know SALOME, who later asks for the Baptist’s head. Mary is also drawn into the war for Galilee, in the course of which her home town Magdala goes up in flames. She tries in vain to save the life of SAMUEL, the son of her friend JOANNA. He dies in her arms. She then takes him to JESUS, who brings him back to life. Mary recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, and becomes one of his disciples.
This is an interesting portrayal of Mary Magdalene to be sure. I am not certain of all the background information that the filmmakers made use of, such as works of historians, and how much was simply creative license, but some of the movie is based on Biblical text and some is a work of fiction or drama. The Biblical aspects in the movie include the facts that Mary Magdalene was a sinner with seven demons, was an outcast, and wound up following Jesus and becoming one of his most devoted followers. Some of the other parts of the film concentrate on Mary’s sexual life, her contact with John the Baptist (which is not recorded Biblically), and conversations that take place.
The film does a good job in showing the conversion that takes place in Mary’s life near the end of the movie and Maria Grazia Cucinotta, who portrays Mary, is a solid actress. The actor who portrays Christ is very effective as well. That said, the movie does have a direct comment by a character who wants to take Mary to bed, and a bit of an awkward scene in which Herodias pretends she is a man and takes Mary into her arms and shows her how a man would act.
As long as the viewer keeps in mind the movie takes creative license with the story of Mary Magdalene, there are also some dramatic Biblical scenes including one in which Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipes them away with her hair. We are awarding this film our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for ages twelve and above. This one has some neat Biblical moments in it!