In «Accattone» (1961) and «Mamma Roma» (1962), Pasolini’s first films, the main characters were conceived of as martyrs and allegories for their own impotence.
The allegorical figure of Accattone makes a passion-journey in the Roman Borgata only because this path itself follows a dramaturgical predestination borrowed from the Christian tradition, ends in tragic death and is only differentiated from the Gospels through a drastic connection to the present […].
Pasolini’s films «Accattone», «Mamma Roma» and, most clearly, «Il vangelo secondo Matteo» («The Gospel of Matthew», 1964) do not only correspond to the conflation of Christianity and Marxism, which had defined post-war Italian auteurist cinema since, at the latest, Curzio Malaparte’s «Il Cristo proibito» (1951), in their 'reoccupation' of 'political theology', but actualise a profane realism on the basis of an anthropological interrogation of the happy life […].
In the fragments of his St. Paul script (1967), the early Christian vision finally becomes the utopia of a community on the soil of modernity: Rome turns into the New York of Allen Ginsberg, and Jerusalem becomes the Paris of Jean-Paul Sartre, and hence ›the world in which […] Saint Paul lives and works is therefore the world of 1966 or ’67.
‹ On the basis of these experiences with the possibilities of filmic-narrative profanation, the short film «La sequenza del fiore di carta÷» represents the key cinematic postscript to Pasolini’s engagement with the New Testament.«
(Toni Hildebrandt, »The Profanation of Montage: Pasolini’s Allegorical Death/Cut in the Sequence-Shot«, in: «Senses of Cinema 77», 2015).