Saint Jerome

A crash 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.

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.

Saint Jerome

(BRAZIL)

Production: A Rio Filme release of a TB Producoes production. Produced by Julio Bressane. Executive producer, Guilherme Spinelli. Directed, written by Julio Bressane. Camera (color), Jose Tadeu Ribeiro; editor, Virginia Flores; music, Fabio Tagliaferri; production designer, Rosa Dias; costume designer, Maria Aparicida; sound (Dolby digital), Toninho Murici; assistant director, Noa Bressane. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (New Territories), Sept. 6, 1999. Original title: Sao Jeronimo. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Everaldo Pontes, Hamilton Vaz Pereira, Balduino Lellis, Helena Ignez, Bia Nunes, Silvia Buarque.

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