A Luminous Mary | Gibbons J. Cooney | Catholic World Report
Alissa Jung overwhelms in the new film “Mary of Nazareth”
On October 11, at the Metreon Theater in San Francisco, Ignatius Press sponsored a premiere screening of the film Mary of Nazareth. Originally released in 2012 as a two-part, 200-minute production for Italian TV, the film has been edited down to 153 minutes for theatrical release. Mary of Nazareth was directed by the Italian Giacomo Campiotti, whose other religious movies include Bakhita about St. Josephine Bakhita, and St. Giuseppe Moscati, about the Physician Saint of Naples. It was written by the Italian Francesco Arlanch, author of the screenplay for Restless Heart (about St. Augustine), Pius XII, and Pope John Paul II. Actors include the Germans Alissa Jung as Mary and Andreas Pietschmann as Jesus, and the Italian Luca Marinelli as Joseph.
The movie chronicles the life of Mary from just before the time of her Presentation at the Temple until the Resurrection. Much of Mary of Nazareth can be seen as a modern version of the “pious legends” of the Middle Ages. Like the pious legends, nothing in the movie contradicts Scripture, but it does contain scenes that are not in Scripture—things that a reasonable person realizes must have happened even if there is no record. Such things include the wedding of Mary and Joseph, Jesus as a boy falling and hurting himself, the death of Joseph, etc. Luca Marinelli is splendid as Joseph: young, masculine, kind, and, of course, just. When he requests permission from St. Joachim to speak to Mary for the first time, and meets with the familiar fatherly suspicion on Joachim’s part, we laugh, because we know the outcome, but we feel for the nervous young man at the same time. Joseph’s character grows the most in the movie, as he accepts, then loves, and finally, in his humility, even develops a sense of humor about his unprecedented situation. A seminarian who was in attendance at the premiere said, “That’s masculinity, right there!” Andreas Pietschmann is good as Jesus, strong and steady in an almost impossible role. Paz Vega is properly intense and passionate as Mary Magdalene. But this movie is all about Alissa Jung’s Mary.
Ms. Jung’s performance is radiant—like nothing I can remember seeing.