Matera and the Cinema

Matera is a city that is particularly photogenic, in fact, telegenic, as it looks wonderful on both cinema and television screens. When directors and producers discovered Matera, they were immediately enchanted by its spectacular beauty. For example, Mel Gibson saw Matera and simply called it perfect. But others had already noticed the city of Sassi before him. In 1949, Matera appeared in the documentary entitled “Something Has Changed in the South” by Carlo Lizzani, which described the situation in which the South of Italy found itself soon after the Second World War. Thanks to the rough rock, the primitive and archaic landscape, the houses embedded in the rock, and the golden light, the love affair between Matera and cinema was definitely sparked in the 50s. Seen on screen, Matera reflects perfectly the South of Italy, of which it is a perfect visual synthesis. Sometimes, perhaps because of the way the rock reflects the sunlight (that sun of Matera that Pasolini defined as “fiercely ancient”), Matera even recalls the Middle East. Therefore, the city of Sassi is an open-air set that has stimulated the creativity of many directors. Here are some of the most important movies filmed in Matera.

Pasolini in Matera

007 - No Time To Die, 2021

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

Cast: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Lèa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz.

The twenty-fifth film in the James Bond saga, the most famous secret agent in the world, was partly filmed in Matera. Four weeks of filming, between August and September 2019. A huge production that led to the closure of part of the historic center during the tourist season. So many visitors had the chance to peek during the filming, between Aston Martins whizzing through the narrow streets of the Sassi, shootouts and other exciting action scenes.

No time to die

Mary Magdalene, 2018

Directed by Garth Davis

Cast: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tahar Rahim, Shira Haas.

Rooney Mara plays Mary Magdalene beautifully. In fact a revolutionary figure, the woman who chooses to follow Jesus, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a concept on which the director chooses to focus attention. In this film Matera acts as an ancient and magical background.

Mary Magdalene

Wonder Woman, 2017

Directed by Patty Jenkins.

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya.

Based on the DC Comics superheroine of the same name, played by Gal Gadot. Wonder Woman was a film of great success with critics and audiences, so much so that the American Film Institute included it among the ten best films of 2017. The film reveals the Sassi of Matera as an ideal set for science fiction stories and Super heroes.

Wonder woman

Ben Hur, 2016

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Cast: Jack Huston, Nazadin Boniadi, Morgan Freeman

The film is a modern film adaptation of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur (Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ), written by Lew Wallace, the most famous adaptation of which is the 1959 film, directed by William Wyler starring Charlton Heston , winner of 11 Academy Awards.


Italian Race, 2016

Directed by Matteo Rovere

Cast: Stefano Accorsi, Matilda De Angelis, Paolo Graziosi

Veloce come il vento also known by the international title of Italian Race, is a 2016 film starring Stefano Accorsi who plays an Italian rally driver, a figure freely inspired by the driver Carlo Capone.

Veloce come il vento Matera

The Passion of the Christ, 2004

Directed by Mel Gibson

Cast: Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Rosalinda Celentano, Sergio Rubini

The Passion of the Christ” is certainly one of the most famous films in the recent history of Cinema. A very controversial movie, criticized for the extremely realistic scenes of violence. Despite this, it was a huge box office success. The original languages of the film are Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin. This film made Matera one of the most famous film tourism destinations in the world.

The Passion of the Christ

L'uomo delle stelle, 1995

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore.

Cast: Sergio Castellitto, Tiziana Leodato, Leopoldo Trieste, Leo Gullotta

The film received numerous awards and awards, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. The film tells the story of a man (played by Sergio Castellitto) who sells dreams of becoming a star in the poor southern Italy of the 1950s. Although the story is set in Sicily, many scenes have been shot in Matera.

L'uomo delle stelle

King David, 1985

Directed by Bruce Beresford.

Cast: Richard Gere, Edward Woodward, Alice Krige, Denis Quilley, Niall Buggy

King David is an American film from 1985. An epic historical drama that tells the story of the second King of Israel, David. The film was directed by Bruce Beresford, produced by Marin Elfand and written by Andrew Birkin. The film is starred by Richard Gere in the lead role. When the film came out, it was not very well received. However, it confirms Matera as an exceptional set for biblical films.

King David

Christ Stopped at Eboli, 1979

Directed by Francesco Rosi

Cast: Gian Maria Volontè, Lea Massari, Alain Cuny, Irene Papas

Based on the 1945 book by Carlo Levi, the film tells the story of an anti-fascist intellectual sent to the border by the Mussolini regime in a small village near Matera. The film was a great success and visually describes the peasant world that Carlo Levi looks at with great sensitivity. Many roles are played by local people. Gian Maria Volonté is one of the greatest Italian actors of all time.

Christ Stopped at Eboli

The Tree of Guernica, 1975

Directed by Fernando Arrabal

Cast: Mariangela Melato, Ron Farber, Cosimo Cinieri, Franco Ressel

The film is set during the Spanish Civil War. The title refers to the Guernica tree, a symbol of the freedoms of the Basque people. The film has an onirical and surreal style and is a profound reflection on topics of great relevance such as rebellion and social institutions.

L'albero di Guernica

The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 1964

Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Cast: Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso, Susanna Pasolini, Marcello Morante

Work faithfully based on the Gospel of Matthew, from the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary to the Resurrection of Jesus. For the filming Pier Paolo Pasolini did not employ professional actors, but decided to involve some of his intellectual friends and people from the places where he went.

Il vangelo secondo Matteo locandina

Roaring Years, 1962

Directed by Luigi Zampa

Cast: Nino Manfredi, Gino Cervi, Gastone Moschin, Rosalia Maggio, Salvo Randone, Michèle Mercier

It is a fun Italian comedy with great actors. The film is set in the 1930s, during the fascist twenty-year period. The subject is inspired by the comedy “The Inspector General” by Nikolaj Gogol in 1836. This is a fierce and funny criticism of the gentle man.

Anni Ruggenti

The She-Wolf, 1953

Directed by Alberto Lattuada

Cast: Kerima, Ettore Manni, Mary Britt

The She-Wolf is an Italian drama film based on the famous novel by Giovanni Verga. While the original novel is set in 19th-century Sicily, the film translates the story in the Basilicata of the 1950s.
La Lupa is a beautiful, mature woman who seduces men with her charm. It is a story of passion, misery and jealousy that fits into the line of Italian neorealism.

La Lupa - The She-Wolf

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