Mary (2005 film)

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Film poster
Directed by Abel Ferrara
Produced by Roberto De Nigris
David Hausen
Fernando Sulichin
Written by Abel Ferrara
Mario Isabella
Simone Lageoles
Scott Pardo
Starring Juliette Binoche
Forest Whitaker
Marion Cotillard
Matthew Modine
Heather Graham
Victoria Justice
Music by Francis Kuipers
Cinematography Stefano Falivene
Edited by Patrizio Marone
Adam Mcclelland
Fabio Nunziata
Langdon Page
Julia Ruell
Distributed by Pan Europeene (France)
IFC Films (USA)
Running time
94 minutes
Country Italy
United States
Language English

Mary is a 2005 drama thriller film, written and directed by American director Abel Ferrara. The film stars Juliette Binoche, Forest Whitaker, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine and Heather Graham.

The film premiered at the 2005 Venice Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize as well as 3 smaller awards. The film also played at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, Deauville Film Festival and San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Plot summary[edit]

Following the shooting of a film on the life of Jesus called This Is My Blood, Marie Palesi (Juliette Binoche), the actress who plays Mary Magdalene takes refuge in Jerusalem in search of the truth behind the story.

The director of the film, Tony Childress (Matthew Modine), who also plays Jesus, can think of only one thing: self-promotion.

In New York, television journalist Ted Younger (Forest Whitaker) presents a programme about the life of Jesus.


Themes and imagery[edit]


One of the central concerns of Mary is the examination of the feminine within the Catholic tradition. Like The Da Vinci Code the film puts forward the theory that Mary Magdalene is much more significant than the Catholic Gospels would suggest. However while The Da Vinci Code suggests that Mary Magdalene was the lover or wife of Jesus, Ferrara's film presents the theory that she was in fact one of the disciples and a trusted confidante of Christ.

Holy Trinity[edit]

Mary presents three narrative threads which represent the three elements of the Trinity.

Marie Palesi on her spiritual quest and her relationship with Mary Magdalene represents the Holy Spirit.

Ted Younger, whose wife has just given birth, represents God the Father.

Tony Childress (literally Childress) represents God the Son.


Screens play an important part in Mary. Each of the three main protagonists are involved in the moving image. Marie Palesi is an actress. Tony Childress is a director and actor, while Ted Younger presents a religious TV programme. Ferrera presents constant images of cinema and TV screens. Younger watches constant images of violence from the middle east. He is presented as being somewhat separated from reality, engaging through screens of different sorts. New York City is seen only through his car window, he gazes at his baby son through the glass of an incubator and looks at his wife's reflection in a mirror.


Upon its release Mary immediately divided critics and viewers alike.


  • "A sincere grapple with faith and redemption in cynical times." – Leslie Felperrin, Variety[1]
  • "Somehow turns confusion into a concise study on what it means to believe in God in this day and age." – Chris Cabin,[2]
  • "..both Forest Whitaker and Juliette Binoche (as with the rest of the cast) give such amazing performances that they should be added to the list of the best work of their careers." – Michael Ferraro, Film Threat[3]


  • "Ferrara presents his ideas in what's meant to be a meditation on the nature of faith but ends up an incoherent, pretentious mess." – Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly[4]
  • "Some critics went as far as rebaptising (excuse the pun) the director "Unable Ferrara" after the press screening here in Venice." – Boyd van Hoeij,[5]
  • "Murky and forgettable." – Ray Bennett, The Hollywood Reporter[6]


The original soundtrack was written by Francis Kuipers.

Track listing[edit]

  • "Mary (prologue)" – 1.53
  • "They Took my Lord" – 6.15
  • "Disciples & Discord" – 4.04
  • "Street Attack" – 1.06
  • "Mary in the Desert" – 3.54
  • "Gnostic Gospel" – 3.29
  • "Women at Sea" – 1.56
  • "Sacred Heart" – 3.18
  • "Among Believers" – 2.50
  • "Holy Land Explosion" – 1.25
  • "Madness of God" – 3.36
  • "This is my Blood" – 5.43
  • "Hidden Scripture" – 2.53
  • "Mary (Epilogue)" – 3.35

Soundtrack credits[edit]

  • Francis Kuipers – Guitar
  • Miriam Butler – Bassoon
  • David Barittoni – Voices
  • Giulio Luciani – Viola, violin
  • Roberto Bellatalla – Double Bass
  • Paola Di Silvestro – Soprano
  • Fabio Colucci – Music producer and mixer

Recorded at Herzog Studios, Rome (Italy)


Venice Film Festival 2005
  • Grand Jury Prize
  • Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award
  • SIGNIS Award
  • Sergio Trasatti Award

French film poster[edit]

The French poster for Mary features a woman praying at an altar. The image was taken in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The film was the first film to be allowed film in the actual church.


  1. ^ FELPERIN, LESLIE (Sep 19, 2005). "Mary". Variety. 
  2. ^ Cabin, Chris. "Mary". Archived from the original on 2007-02-11. 
  3. ^ Ferraro, Michael (2006-06-15). "MARY". Film Threat. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived December 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3] Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]