Magdalene went against the patriarchal notions of her time

Joaquin Phoenix played Jesus of Nazareth in the film Mary Magdalene. Phoenix remarked on the positive portrayal of women in the film, saying “It made me really excited, the prospect of young girls feeling like they’re represented in a biblical context in such a positive way.”

Rooney Mara plays the titular character. The film was directed by Garth Davis and recounts Jesus Christ's life and death from a female perspective. It tells the tale of a first-century young woman who joined a brand new social movement led by Jesus Christ.

Incidentally, Rooney is Joaquin's real-life girlfriend. They have been dating since 2016.

Breaking Catholic Church tradition, the film does not portray Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. The notion of Magdalene being a sex worker came from a claim by Pope Gregory, a sixth-century pontiff. The then pope claimed Magdalene was a “sinful” woman who was found to anoint the feet of Jesus. The event was elaborated on in Luke 7. Phoenix claimed Mary Magdalene was an important personage in the movement. To shore up his assertion, the 43-year-old pointed out that not even one of the male disciples were present during the crucifixion of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, however, was present when Christ was resurrected. This proves her courage. Phoenix said the Bible's two most prominent figures were Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. He went on to say there lies the problem; young religious girls have a binary choice. The Bible offers them two polar opposite choices, either the virgin (Mary, the mother) or whore (Magdalene). This subconsciously affects them in the way they navigate their faith and their world.

Phoenix hopes that this film's authentic and fresh portrayal of Mary Magdalene, who went against the existing societal norms of her day, will connect with people. The prevailing patriarchal society ridiculed her. She was told that demons had possessed her. To this, she answered that there exist no demons inside her. She trusted her feelings and her instinct turned out to be correct. There is no need to care what any girl's father or brother says if her instincts turn out to be true.

Mary Magdalene opened on March 16 in the United Kingdom. It will hit theaters in the United States on March 23.


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