Director: Roberto Rossellini
Year Released: 1948
Two shorts from Rossellini get stuffed into a "feature": in The Human Voice (based on the play by Jean Cocteau), a sad, lonely woman (Anna Magnani) who lives with her dog Miccia has a series of phone conversations with an ex-lover that she's trying to win back; in The Miracle, a nutty goat woman named Nanni (Magnani again) sees a man passing through (none other than Federico Fellini, with a glorious mane), is convinced he's St. Joseph, he gives her too much wine, she passes out and when she wakes up she eventually realizes she's pregnant (Maestro ... no!). For the first half, Rossellini is content to just fixate his camera on Magnani's face as she goes through all the emotions or starts screaming "Pronto!" repeatedly (it's over but she won't believe it), but the second part is at least semi-interesting: it was actually banned (for sacrilege) which brought about the landmark case Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson and helped show that movies were a form of artistic expression (and protected under the First Amendment). Is it blasphemous? I would say absolutely not: it's a thought experiment - like Nikos Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ years later - that takes creative liberties with the Jesus narrative. Is it out of the realm of possibility that another Messiah could be born to some poor lady somewhere in the world? I doubt it, but you never know (just watch out for false prophets).