Acrash course in Comparative Religion would be helpful before seeing this deadpan, stylized bio of Saint Jerome, the monk who first translated the Bible into Latin. Low-budget and visually drab, pic is mostly a series of tableaux, set first in rocky desert, then briefly in lush jungle and finally in the Vatican, where the saint begins his life work.
Lacking the mocking irony of a Bunuel (though the desert scenes evoke “Simon of the Desert”) or the meticulous precision of a Bresson, helmer Julio Bressane simply illustrates episodes from the life of this man, who is never more than a vague presence as played by Everaldo Pontes. A collector, copier and translator of sacred texts, Jerome spends much of the film agonizing about how to translate Hebrew words into Latin. For a film about the main source of all Western literature, the result is disappointingly drab. Presence of a prowling lion in the Vatican is the film’s chief claim to eccentricity.