Enrique Irazoqui, actor, intellectual, political activist and famous for being Jesus in Gospel according to Matthew of Pasolini, who died during the night in a hospital in Barcelona. He was 76 years old and when the writer-director chose him, wanting an unfamiliar face, he was a twenty-year-old student of anti-Franco roots and arrived in Italy precisely to involve Italian culture in fighting against Francoism. So much so that Irazoqui gave the profits to the political cause and for this he was punished by the regime once he returned to Spain. The experience as an actor in the magnificent evangelical film shot in Matera, at the highest levels, remained isolated, it was a coincidence and not the beginning of a career as a star: the film had a contrasted first at the Venice Film Festival but then it pleased the public (income at the time 376 million lire) also for the dedication to John XXIII. Enrique graduated in economics in Paris and in the States in Spanish literature, becoming a teacher and finding an ideal hobby in chess but since then away from the set.
Struck by his gaze
Pasolini offered him the role in his film after seeing it, struck by the violence of his gaze: as is well known, the great writer’s Jesus brought the message back to its origin and became an ideological manifesto in line with the Italy of the opening of the time and the sacred of the words of Jesus. Produced by the trusty Alfredo Bini before Birds and birds, Pasolini’s “scandalous” Gospel remains a fundamental work precisely in the suture of two cultures even if it was accused by the poor in spirit of being a slightly snobbish film as the director had used not only his beloved mother Susanna in the cast of the Madonna, but also literary friends such as Alfonso Gatto, Enzo Siciliano, Rodolfo Wilcock, Natalia Ginzburg, referring to the great traditions of Tuscan painting of the ‘400-500 and also to his autobiographical vein, linking every slice of humanity, from the Ricotta a Life boys ad Beggar, to a need for transcendence that cinema had been able to render splendidly, only by pretending to suspend the revolutionary discourse that instead found new vital lymph with Jesus thanks to Mozart, Bach and Prokofiev in the soundtrack and the black and white ideal colors of Matera, before Mel Gibson approached for another but very different film about the Passion.
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