New on Video – ‘Hail Mary’

Hail Mary

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard

France, 1985

When Jean-Luc Godard’s 1985 film Hail Mary was initially released, it set off a firestorm of protest. According to an article in a contemporary issue of Film Quarterly, the film was met with everything from “the Pope’s Vatican Radio denunciations and Italian magazine covers depicting barebreasted blondes on crucifixes, to Catholics lighting candles and shaking rosaries outside offending theaters.” The film was banned and was the subject of boycotts, and religious leaders worldwide deemed it blasphemous (a quote from Pope John Paul II, stating that the movie, “deeply wounds the religious sentiments of believers,” was displayed on a previously issued DVD almost as a badge of honor).

At the heart of the controversy, first and foremost, was the plot. Godard’s film is a modern-day retelling of the virgin birth. Here, Mary (Myriem Roussel) is a basketball-playing student who works
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