Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Christ Superstar. The Last Temptation of Christ. Just a selection of the films, television dramas and stage shows that have depicted Mary Magdalene as a fallen woman redeemed by the Son of God.
A new film, though, flips the script to show Mary in a new light – as an independent free-thinker who bore witness to Jesus’s death and resurrection and who deserves to be considered as an apostle in her own right.
This is deeply contentious territory that flies in the face of the commonly accepted orthodoxy that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute.
Yet Rooney Mara and Garth Davis, the star and director of Mary Magdalene, are prepared for whatever controversy comes their way.
The claim that Mary was a sex worker comes from Pope Gregory I, who declared her to be a penitent prostitute in the year 591.
It is a notion that has been perpetuated for centuries – partly thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had Mary sing about the “many men” she’s “had” in Jesus Christ Superstar.