Mary Magdeline to release in American cinemas

After a long delay, the Mary Magdeline biopic is set to debut in the United States.

The film stars Rooney Mara as Magdeline and Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus.

Mary Magdeline was delayed in America due to the collapse of the Weinstein Company. It will screen in cinemas in April. The film is a fictionalisation of the Biblical character. Unlike other texts like The Da Vinci Code, it does not represent Magdeline as being in a romantic relationship with Jesus.

Mary Magdeline already played in Australian theatres a year ago, receiving a mixed response from film critics. Russell Matthews’ review said that the film served a purpose in challenging viewers to explore the Biblical story in more depth.

It was directed by Garth Davis, an Australian filmmaker who also directed the acclaimed 2016 film Lion. In an interview, he told Insights that he hoped the film would give viewers the chance to see the story from the characters’ perspectives.

“I’m going to take you in to the characters, help you see the story through their eyes,” he said.

“You have to learn the lessons through the characters and through your own feelings – so I had to make [the film] experiential in nature.”

Mary Magdeline debuts in US Cinemas on 12 April. It is currently available on Blu Ray/DVD and digital release in Australia.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor




One thought on “Mary Magdeline to release in American cinemas

  1. Warren Bird

    (Most of this comment repeats the comments I made when the film was shown in Australia.)

    The director speaks about telling the story through the characters’ eyes. I thought that’s what the gospels did already. This movie bears little relation to the story of Mary Magdalene as we have it in the gospels. So he’s told a story as seen through fictional eyes rather then the eyes of Mary, the disciples or Jesus.

    As a movie, I found Mary Magdalene to be very dull, at times turgid and in many ways downright annoying. It’s slow, very slow. Every scene is slow, the full effect is slow. I longed for it to end well before its conclusion.

    Rooney Mara plays her role well, but the director has helped by a simple device. All the women except Mary seem to wear black. She can’t but stand out as the star of the film. But that’s one of the many aspects of the movie that take it well beyond a re-telling of one woman’s story and symbolically elevating her to a unique status not justified by what is historically known of her.

    Theologically, I think the film is blatantly wrong. It represents Mary as the real Messiah, the one who stands strong while all the disciples and Jesus fall in an emotional and mental heap, the one who comforts the sobbing Judas whose backstory has been invented out of thin air for this venture, the only one who comes to the foot of the cross, the only one who saw Jesus after his resurrection. (And by the way, at that moment this film portrays Jesus sitting there, as weak as water, chuckling to himself about something, but not risen triumphantly.) There’s no rushing to the empty tomb by the disciples, Mary alone is the only one who embraces it in any way.

    I believe that the real Mary Magdalene would turn in her grave to think that ‘her story’ had been turned into one that diminishes Jesus the way this one does! Her ministry was one of support for him financially, not emotionally and spiritually!

    Some people have asked me if it’s a ‘love story’ between Mary and Jesus. It isn’t. Although Mary does have feelings for Jesus, she doesn’t do anything in the film to escalate them sexually or romantically. Not that the Jesus of this movie could have responded – he’s portrayed as a feeble mystic barely capable of having a relationship with anyone let alone a man-woman relationship with Mary.

    One of the things we do know about Mary from the Bible is that she was one of the group of women who had independent financial wealth and used it to fund Jesus and the disciples. (Luke 8 tells us this.) She presumably did this because Jesus had healed her from a significant demon possession, which would have restored her to society after a period of ostracism. (The women who’s company she kept included someone whose husband was on king Herod’s staff – Mary had come up in the world!)

    That little piece of information has been neglected completely.

    So it’s quite deceptive of the film makers to say this finally telling Mary’s real story. It does nothing of the sort.

    If it were just all the theological and historical nonsenses in this I’d be willing to recommend people see it if it were a good film. In my view it isn’t. Instead, just let it fade into the dustbin of cinematic history where it belongs.

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