THIS PAST week news arrived of a forthcoming Mel Gibson project, a Warner Brothers “biopic” concerning the life of Judah Maccabee. The announcement provoked the inevitable outrage, an example of which is Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who stated the proposed film is akin to “having a white supremacist portray Martin Luther King Jr.” The analogy however is founded, even if understandably and legitimately enough, not upon logic but rather emotion. Considered on logical grounds alone, Gibson’s fitness to portray sympathetically the life of a guerilla war hero and anti-secular reactionary religious fundamentalist is beyond question.
“Martha and Mary Magdalene”
IF MICHELANGELO Merisi da Caravaggio, known today simply as Caravaggio, were our contemporary, he would be often in the news. Violent, captious, cruel, and reckless, he was notorious even by the standards of late 16th-Century Rome. A good source on the Italian capital circa 1600 is John L. Varriano’s “Caravaggio: the art of realism,” which catalogues “a level of sadism that would be shocking in any age.” But to give you an idea of the sort of man Caravaggio was, I can think of nothing better than to cite his flirtation with the Knights of Malta, who soon having deemed the painter “foul and rotten” expelled him from their ranks.
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