Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Mary Magdalene" and the ancient emphasis on procreation


The film “Mary Magdalene” is the first of the “Close to Jesus” or “Friends of Jesus” series from Artisan and Barnholz.  And it may be the most daring.

As the film opens, Mary’s husband, Amos, tells her he is divorcing her because she cannot give him children. He wants heirs.  That’s all he has, the future inherent in his sperm.  That’s as far away from my own temperament as it gets.

Mary  (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) goes on her own life adventure, and soon finds out from the Roman Silvano, that married women under Roman law had some property rights.  But soon she encounters John the Baptist, and starts following the ministry at Jesus.  At the same time, she comes under the wing of a (possibly lesbian) matron who shows her how to become a “lady” and get rich with prostitution. Her story takes her into territory of the opera “Salome” by composer Richard Strauss (which I saw in NYC around 1976, complete with its “Dance of the Seven Veils”), when John is beheaded.  But by now Mary has become a disciple of Jesus.

The natural extension of this story is, of course, Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” (Books, April 16, 2006), which became a major motion picture from Columbia, leading to the theory that Jesus did not really ascend but lived a log time after resurrection but married Mary Magdalene, or might have even married him before the crucifixion.  Ancient Jewish culture was indeed very much “pro procreation” as a matter of survival, and here is a nice source on it.

There is a scene, early, where Mary overhears Jesus commanding his disciples to “love the unlovable”, not just love someone who will love you back.  This would not satisfy Dr. Mehmet Oz, with his comments on social isolation and longevity.

In a scene near the end, shortly before Jesus (Danny Quinn, 36 at the time of filming) is arrested, Mary washes his ankles.  In a way, the visuals here are as explicit and telling as anything. 

Shokos TV has this documentary (45 min) “Secrets of Mary Magdalene” on YouTube.

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