Mary Magdalene: Art’s Scarlet Woman
About this film →
All saints in art are inventions, but no saint in art has been invented quite as furiously as Mary Magdalene. For a thousand years, artists have been throwing themselves at the task of describing her and telling her story, from Caravaggio to Cézanne, Rubens to Rembrandt, Titian to van Gogh.
Her identity has evolved from being the close follower of Jesus who was the first witness to his resurrection, to one of a prostitute and sinner who escaped from persecution in the Holy Land by fleeing across the Mediterranean to wind up living in a cave as a hermit in the South of France, enjoying ecstatic experiences with Christ.
It is this role as a repentant prostitute that has pressed the buzzer of art most violently. The loose woman, wild haired and sexy, draped in her iconic scarlet garb, who, as the archetypal penitent, set the moral benchmark for which women were to aspire.
Her identity has been re-imagined by bishops, artists, authors and musicians. Whilst possessing the relics of Mary Magdalene was big business for Medieval monks in France, she has also proved her worth in the West End and Hollywood, playing the role of the lover of Christ in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and in Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
Delving into the great art of the last 1000 years, Waldemar will explore the evolution of the identity of this scarlet woman and reveal what this all really says about the artists whom she bewitched.