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Beware of "The Passion"


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The making of, "The Passion of the Christ", will be showm on PAX TV on Tuesday eveining 8icon_razz.gif:P-->m CST. We watched it last night and I got chills through the whole thing. I can't wait to see it and yes, I will have my box of kleenex beside me.

It's interesting to note that the man who plays Jesus is 33 years old and his inictialss are JC. I know with out a doubt, the Holy Sprit was there throughout the making of this film...I think this will be the start of a great revival in America! The Lord knows we need it desperately! "come Lord Jesus..."

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Thanks for the correction, def. Sorry I screwed that up.

My point still holds, though. If one gospel says Jesus carried it, and the other three say Simon carried it, then there are two (IMO) equally reasonable resolutions to the apparent conflict:

1. The cross Jesus bore in the gospel of John was not to be taken literally.

2. The cross Jesus bore in the gospel of John was to be taken literally, and Simon was called in when Jesus proved unable to carry it all the way.

I repeat my thought: I think each of these resolutions is equally reasonable.

And the reason I brought it up was, why should anyone be concerned that a movie depicts Jesus falling from the burden of a huge wooden cross he's forced to try to carry after a brutal beating? The reality is that he might have, or he might not have: neither outcome negates his sacrifice. Neither outcome compromises Biblical accuracy or integrity. Whether he's depicted with the thing or not, he still died.

When you see this movie, are you going to get upset because the beating is taking place on a Thursday instead of a Tuesday? Are you going to get upset because the crucifixion is taking place on a Friday and not on a Wednesday? Are you going to get upset because there are three crosses on the hill and not five? Are you going to tie yourself into knots over issues that are essential neither to the gospel nor to salvation?

I've come to the conclusion that I do not care if there were three crosses or five: I only care about the one in the middle!

And if Mel Gibson has a different understanding of what took place on that day, I'm not going to hold that against him. I'm going to praise God that Christ is preached. If I see Christ stumbling under the burden of the wooden cross, I'm going to be reminded that he held strong under the burden of the cross I placed on his shoulder.

[This message was edited by Rafael 1969 on February 23, 2004 at 19:57.]

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Well,all this talk about the "Passion" movie and it's anti-Semitism on the talk shows inspired me to blow the dust off of my KJV and read through the Gospel accounts of the death of Jesus...

From a historical perspective the Gospels state regarding who was responsible for crucifying Jesus:

Judas led Jesus to the chief priests and elders...(Matt.26:47)

Who in turn led him to Caiaphas,the high priest...(Matt.26:57)

Caiaphas was he who counseled the Jews,that it was expedient that one man should die for the people...(John18:14)

Caiaphas rent his clothes and accused Jesus of blasphemy and asked the people(chief priests,elders and Jews) "What think ye?"..They all condemned him to be guilty of death...(Mark 14:63,64)

Then the whole multitude of them arose and led him unto Pilate...(Luke 23:1)

Pilate tried to pawn judgment of Jesus onto Herod(Luke23:7)who sent him back to Pilate(Luke 23:11)

Pilate told the Jews to judge Jesus according to their law.The Jews told him it was not lawful for them to put any man to death(John18:31).Pilate told Jesus "thine own nation and chief priests have delivered thee unto me"(John18:35)

Pilate made several pleas to release Jesus(Luke23:16-23)

The chief priests and elders pursuaded the multitude that they should release Barabbas and crucify Jesus(Matt.27:20)

Fearing the tumult,and seeing that he could not prevail,Pilate gave in,but washed his hands of "this innocent man's blood"(Matt27:24)

All the people answered "his blood be upon us and on our children"(Matt.27:25)

Then Pilate delivered him to his soldiers to be crucified(Matt.27:26,27)

Jesus was accused of stirring up all the people and teaching throughout all Jewry and calling himself King of the Jews(Luke23:2-5)

It may very well be as Sister Clare Mary taught me in 5th grade catechism,that "every one of our fingerprints are on the whips that scourged Jesus"...But from a Biblical historical basis,it seems pretty clear who his ministry was directed to,and who the principals were in his death...In my opinion the Jewish nation and/or religion(I can never distinguish the two) can only accept the gospel accounts of Jesus' death as a dark day,or a black eye in the history of Judaism,or refute the gospel accounts as false...It will be interesting to see who Mel makes the villain out to be,if there is one at all..

My apologies for the doctrinal tone of this post,....way flashback,I guess....

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This review tells me all I want to know about this movie... and shows why I just don't feel compelled to see it.


New York Times

February 25, 2004


Good and Evil Locked in Violent Showdown


here is a prophetic episode of "The Simpsons" in which the celebrity guest star Mel Gibson, directing and starring in a remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," enlists the help of Homer Simpson, who represents the public taste (or lack of it). Homer persuades Mr. Gibson to change the picture's ending, replacing James Stewart's populist tirade with an action sequence, a barrage of righteous gunfire that leaves the halls of Congress strewn with corpses. The audience flees the theater in disgust. I thought of Homer more than once, with an involuntary irreverence conditioned by many years of devotion to "The Simpsons," as Mr. Gibson presented his new movie, "The Passion of the Christ," to carefully selected preview audiences across the land, making a few last-minute cuts, and then taking to the airwaves to promote and defend the film. It opens on Wednesday nationwide.

Given the Crucifixion story, Mr. Gibson did not need to change the ending.

"The Passion of the Christ" is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of Jesus' final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it. Mr. Gibson has constructed an unnerving and painful spectacle that is also, in the end, a depressing one. It is disheartening to see a film made with evident and abundant religious conviction that is at the same time so utterly lacking in grace.

Mr. Gibson has departed radically from the tone and spirit of earlier American movies about Jesus, which have tended to be palatable (if often extremely long) Sunday school homilies designed to soothe the audience rather than to terrify or inflame it.

His version of the Gospels is harrowingly violent; the final hour of "The Passion of the Christ" essentially consists of a man being beaten, tortured and killed in graphic and lingering detail. Once he is taken into custody, Jesus (Jim Caviezel) is cuffed and kicked and then, much more systematically, flogged, first with stiff canes and then with leather whips tipped with sharp stones and glass shards. By the time the crown of thorns is pounded onto his head and the cross loaded onto his shoulders, he is all but unrecognizable, a mass of flayed and bloody flesh, barely able to stand, moaning and howling in pain.

The audience's desired response to this spectacle is not revulsion, but something like the cowering, quivering awe manifested by Mary (Maia Morgenstern), Mary Magdalen (Monica Bellucci) and a few sensitive Romans and Jerusalemites as they force themselves to watch. Disgust and awe are not, when you think about it, so far apart, and in Mr. Gibson's vision one is a route to the other.

By rubbing our faces in the grisly reality of Jesus' death and fixing our eyes on every welt and gash on his body, this film means to make literal an event that the Gospels often treat with circumspection and that tends to be thought about somewhat abstractly. Look, the movie seems to insist, when we say he died for our sins, this is what we mean.

A viewer, particularly one who accepts the theological import of the story, is thus caught in a sadomasochistic paradox, as are the disciples for whom Jesus, in a flashback that occurs toward the end, promises to lay down his life. The ordinary human response is to wish for the carnage to stop, an impulse that seems lacking in the dissolute Roman soldiers and the self-righteous Pharisees. (More about them shortly.) But without their fathomless cruelty, the story would not reach its necessary end. To halt the execution would thwart divine providence and refuse the gift of redemption.

Anyway, this is a film review, not Sunday school. The paradox of wishing something horrible to stop even as you want it to continue has as much to do with moviegoing as with theology. And Mr. Gibson, either guilelessly or ingeniously, has exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what he and his allies see as a higher end. The means, however, are no different from those used by virtuosos of shock cinema like Quentin Tarantino and Gaspar No?who subjected Ms. Bellucci to such grievous indignity in "Irr?rsible." Mr. Gibson is temperamentally a more stolid, less formally adventurous filmmaker, but he is no less a connoisseur of violence, and it will be amusing to see some of the same scolds who condemned Mr. Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" sing the praises of "The Passion of the Christ."

Mr. Gibson, from the moment he began speaking publicly about this project, emphasized his desire to make his "Passion" as realistic as possible. To that end the dialogue is in Aramaic and a dialect of Latin, which takes some getting used to but which dispenses with the stilted, awkward diction that afflicts so many biblical epics. The absence of identifiable movie stars (with the exception of Ms. Bellucci, who comports herself with fitting modesty) also adds an element of verisimilitude. But the style and tone of "The Passion" are far from what is ordinarily meant by realism.

The first part, which takes place in the murk and gloom of night (shot by the superb cinematographer Caleb Deschanel), has the feel of a horror movie. As Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane, the camera tiptoes around him like a stalker, and John Debney's score is a high-toned creep show of menacing orchestral undertones and spine-jabbing choral effects. A slithery, effeminate Satan (played, the end credits reveal, by a woman named Rosalinda Celentano) slinks around like something in a Wes Craven nightmare, and Judas, reeling from his betrayal, is menaced by demon children with pointy teeth and milky eyes.

When daylight dawns, the mood shifts from horror-movie suspense to slasher-film dread. Throughout, Mr. Gibson lays on Mr. Debney's canned sublimity with the heaviest possible hand, and he indulges in equally unsubtle visual and aural effects. Judas's 30 pieces of silver fly through the air in slow motion, and the first nail enters Jesus' palm with a thwack that must have taken hours of digital tweaking to articulate. The thuddingly emphatic storytelling (along with the ancient languages) makes the acting almost beside the point, though it is hard not to be impressed by Mr. Caviezel's endurance.

The only psychological complexity in this tableau of goodness and villainy belongs to Pontius Pilate and his wife, Claudia, played by two very capable actors, Hristo Naumov Shopov and Claudia Gerini, who I hope will become more familiar to American audiences.

Is "The Passion of the Christ" anti-Semitic? I thought you'd never ask. To my eyes it did not seem to traffic explicitly or egregiously in the toxic iconography of historical Jew hatred, but more sensitive viewers may disagree. The Pharisees, in their tallit and beards, are certainly shown as a sinister and inhumane group, and the mob they command is full of howling, ugly rage. But this on-screen villainy does not seem to exceed what can be found in the source material.

Mr. Gibson a few weeks ago reportedly expunged an especially provocative line of dialogue that referred to the Jews: "His blood be on us, and on our children." That line comes from the Book of Matthew, and it would take a revisionist to remove every trace of controversy and intolerance from a story that rests squarely on the theological boundary separating Christianity from Judaism.

That Mr. Gibson did not attempt to transcend these divisions may be regrettable, but to condemn "The Passion of the Christ" for its supposed bigotry is to miss its point and to misstate its problems. The troubling implications of the film do not arise primarily from its religious agenda: an extreme, traditionalist Roman Catholicism that has not prevented "The Passion" from resonating, oddly enough, with many evangelical Protestants.

What makes the movie so grim and ugly is Mr. Gibson's inability to think beyond the conventional logic of movie narrative. In most movies — certainly in most movies directed by or starring Mr. Gibson — violence against the innocent demands righteous vengeance in the third act, an expectation that Mr. Gibson in this case whips up and leaves unsatisfied.

On its own, apart from whatever beliefs a viewer might bring to it, "The Passion of the Christ" never provides a clear sense of what all of this bloodshed was for, an inconclusiveness that is Mr. Gibson's most serious artistic failure. The Gospels, at least in some interpretations, suggest that the story ends in forgiveness. But such an ending seems beyond Mr. Gibson's imaginative capacities. Perhaps he suspects that his public prefers terror, fury and gore. Maybe Homer Simpson was right after all.

"The Passion of the Christ" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has many scenes of graphic violence.


Directed by Mel Gibson; written (in Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles) by Benedict Fitzgerald and Mr. Gibson; director of photography, Caleb Deschanel; edited by John Wright; music by John Debney; production designer, Francesco Frigeri; produced by Mr. Gibson, Bruce Davey and Stephen McEveety; released by Icon Productions and Newmarket Films. Running time: 120 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: Jim Caviezel (Jesus), Monica Bellucci (Magdalen), Hristo Naumov Shopov (Pontius Pilate), Maia Morgenstern (Mary), Francesco De Vito (Peter), Luca Lionello (Judas), Mattia Sbragia (Caiphas), Rosalinda Celentano (Satan), Claudia Gerini (Claudia Procles).

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Telling the truth carries risk.

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I give as much creedence to a film critic as I would the tarot card lady on Alcoa Highway...

You're right, Rocky...

Telling the truth carries risk.

Peace and Love.

Love y'all,



''...show a little faith, there's magic in the night, you ain't a beauty, but hey, you're alright, oh, and that's alright with me...''

-Bruce Springsteen

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I understand JF, about looking to a film critic for the "truth" about God, which would be silly.

However, I look to a New York Times film critic for reasonable reflection on what to expect from sitting through such a long, intense depiction of violence.

I can see the excitement Christians would have thinking they would, perhaps, deepen their faith by having a more acute sense of what Jesus went through. However, I'm not sure that being exposed to that much violence on the screen can return the expected spiritual enhancement.

I don't watch horror movies. The only violence I can tolerate in movies is implied violence, not explicit. I just think I would be traumatized, emotionally, rather than energized.

I don't see the value in that.

Telling the truth carries risk.

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Gibson's film 'Passion' inflames tempers

Director wants Jewish-Christian dialogue, says spokesman

(CNN) -- In reaction to the controversy over his film about Jesus Christ, called "The Passion," Mel Gibson is planning to convene a series of meetings with religious leaders to "invite their dialogue, their feedback," said a Gibson spokesman.

"We are very concerned about this [critical] feedback, and we are processing that feedback, and we have always planned on inviting this kind of dialogue," said Paul Lauer, director of marketing for Gibson's Icon Productions, on CNN's "NewsNight with Aaron Brown."

Icon plans on convening meetings with "eight to 10 significant Jewish leaders over the next 30 days," he said.

Although it's months away from release, "The Passion" is already kicking up a storm over its portrayal of the last hours of Jesus.

Some Jewish and Roman Catholic groups are concerned the film will fuel anti-Semitism. Others, including fundamentalist Christians and media names such as columnist Cal Thomas and Jewish Web personality Matt Drudge, have said the film is "beautiful" and "magical."

Biblical scholars have called Gibson's reading of the New Testament into question, and rumors have floated that the script's sources allegedly include an 18th-century Roman Catholic mystic.

Gibson's company, Icon Productions, has denied the rumors and claimed that a Catholic-Jewish group that criticized the film saw an early, purloined copy of the script.

All this for a film that is performed completely in Latin and Aramaic, features no A-list actors, and is still struggling to gain distribution.

Gibson, an Oscar-winning director ("Braveheart"), has said that the film is intended "to inspire, not offend." He wants "to create a lasting work of art and engender serious thought among audiences of diverse faith backgrounds (or none) who have varying familiarity with this story," he said in a June statement.

Gibson, a devout follower of a Roman Catholic splinter group that believes in a Latin Mass and rejects changes made in the Church by Vatican II, has poured up to $30 million of his own money to produce the film, according to The Associated Press.

The reaction has bothered him, said Lauer.

"It's hurt him a great deal. He has many close Jewish friends. He's worked with Jewish people in his career, in -- certainly in the movie industry for 25 years. He's never been accused of any degree of anti-Semitism or hatred or bigotry," he told CNN.

Gibson is expected to release a statement about the film and controversy in the next week, Lauer said.

'We were troubled'


ADL head Abraham Foxman has expressed concern about the film inciting anti-Semitism.

Most viewers of the film have defended it.

"You actually hear what Jesus said in his original language. You hear what Peter said and what Mary said. And that's gripping. And then there were English subtitles in the version that we saw. And so it was amazing," said Rev. Ted Haggard, executive director of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Nevertheless, the Anti-Defamation League has "grave concerns," according to Rabbi Eugene Korn, the director of the organization's Office of Interfaith Affairs. Korn is the only ADL official who has seen the film.

ADL Executive Director Abraham Foxman expanded on Korn's statement.

"We were troubled ... that it portrayed the Jews, the Jewish community, in a manner that we have experienced historically. Seeing passion plays used to incite not only a passion of love in terms of Christianity, but at the same time, to instill and incite a hatred of the Jews because of deicide," he told CNN.

Some Roman Catholic officials are also troubled.

"There's so much violence that was part of the script, I mean, the suffering of Jesus is -- I have to say, in my reading of the script, to me, there was a fixation on the suffering, the torture, the brutality done to Jesus," said Sister Mary C. Boys of the Union Theological Seminary.

The group of Catholic and Jewish scholars released an 18-page report on the film earlier this summer. Both The New Republic and Beliefnet.com have published articles from members of the group expressing their views in more detail.

"Fidelity, accuracy, and sensitivity were all lacking in the script I saw for Mr. Gibson's production," wrote Beliefnet's Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University.

Contrary to Icon's statement, the group has maintained that the script was obtained in an above-board manner.

Is there a market?


"It was amazing," said Rev. Ted Haggard, executive director of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Gibson's representatives say the film is not finished yet, and critics shouldn't be so quick to judge.

Lauer added that he hopes the film improves dialogue between Jews and Christians.

"What can we build around the film to further Jewish-Christian dialogue?" he asked. "And so we're reaching out to [critical groups] now and saying, 'Look, work with us. Build something positive around this controversy.' "

Lauer did not address the Catholic scholars' concerns, but added: "We condemn ... the Passion plays which led to anti-Semitism, hatred, intolerance. We in no way want to turn back the clock to a pre-Vatican II church that supposedly condemn the Jews."

Even after the dust settles, a big question in Hollywood is: Who will see "The Passion"? Post-production continues, and the budget can be expected to increase by millions of dollars to cover print, distribution and advertising costs.

Moreover, although Gibson agreed to have the dialogue subtitled, there's no guarantee there's a market for such a strongly religious film. Since the last successful wave of biblical epics in the 1950s, a number of films with biblical or spiritual themes have flopped at the box office, most recently Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988), Scorsese's "Kundun" (1997) and Michael Tolkin's strange "The Rapture" (1991).

Taken together -- the controversy, the religious theme, the subtitles -- the outlook isn't very good, said one observer.

"This film has all the makings of a [box-office] bomb," entertainment publicist Michael Levine told The Washington Times.

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I saw "The Passion" yesterday afternoon at a prescreening for the movie. The theater was packed with about 450 people at the 4:30 showing and sold out with 505 people at the 7PM showing.

I brought my 3 kids who are 16, 13, and 11 along with two of their friends aged 14 and 16 (with parental permission, of course)......imo, it was an accurate portrayal....and follows exactly simonzealotes outline of historical events...except for the part where the jews say "his blood be upon us and on our children."

yes, it's intense and the beatings are more than brutal.....and yes, the final scene is of the resurrection....btw, mel uses raphael's resolution #2 regarding Jesus carrying the cross.

i think the movie was VERY well done.



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jen-o, I had heard that quote "his blood be upon us and on our children." IS in the movie, he just took out the subtitles... they say it, kind of in the background... at least that's what Mel said on his deal with Diane Sawyer...

the kids all did OK with it?

I'm on the outside, looking inside, what do I see? Much confusion, disillusion, all around me.

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not sure if I'll see it or not. though it is a movie, movies do provoke emotions and I'm not sure I need to have mine provoked.

I have a deep passion for God and Christ and am not sure I want to sit in a theater with a box of tissues and a bunch of strangers. it's not good for the biker looking dude to sob in public. icon_cool.gif

I did see the actor who plays christ say in an interview that the cross they used weighed about 125 lbs.

as far as kids, I wouldn't let mine see it unless he was over 17 like any other movie rated the same. I do my best to keep him sheltered from acts of violence and I'm not to sure if I need to be exposed to it either.

hmm, an after thought:

I know what christ went through and now I can see it, why would I want to? to afirm my faith? no, thats about as firm as it's going to get at this point in my life. if it's not something I would want to see happen in real life, why would I go to a theater and watch it larger than life?

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Random violence: If people saw more of the actual nature of "random" violence, and the cost, which this movie depicts some of, the world would be a lot better off.

To make known Jesus Christ and Him crucified really was the thrust of Paul's life, and Billy Graham's mother told him (and he listened to his mother) "You just preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

This movie, from what I have seen, although more graphic than most Jesus movies, the violence of the movie falls short of the reality of the thing.

(I saw the tv special Sunday and last nite), and I have my ticket for the 5:30 pm show today)

Jesus really was so marred beyond the form of a man he didn't even look like a man. He was literally beaten to a pulp.

icon_smile.gif:)-->," God

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Rocky said...

I understand JF, about looking to a film critic for the "truth" about God, which would be silly.

However, I look to a New York Times film critic for reasonable reflection on what to expect from sitting through such a long, intense depiction of violence.

And that makes them/him/her an authority on Christ's suffering and death???

C'mon, Rocky...you're smarter than that!

And if you're not a Christian...why are you getting your panties in a wad over this movie??? I would think that you would just choose not to see it. Do you critique every horror movie you choose not to see, or is this just because it's about Christ?

I respect your choice not to want to see this movie, but why try to discredit it for the folks who do?

Just my observation...no hard feelings...

Peace and Love.

Love y'all,



''...show a little faith, there's magic in the night, you ain't a beauty, but hey, you're alright, oh, and that's alright with me...''

-Bruce Springsteen

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papajohn i think my feelings about it are kinda like yours

and about provoking emotions, it's really weird, when i was a kid (around the time you make your first holy communion) my father was beating up my mother, and then i heard this banging noise over and over and over. i thought he was crucifying her, literally nailing her to a cross

ended up after he kicked her on the floor he started kicking the wall over and over. that's what the noise was


i wouldn't let my kid see this movie


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No JF, it doesn't make them an authority on any biblical matter. Film critics, especially for "The Newspaper of Record", are educated people who can give legitimate reflections and observations on the impact on individuals and audience groups. And in some cases, give reasonable comparisons between this film and others that have been made depicting various aspects of Jesus's life on earth.

I've also paid attention to what religious persons have had to say about it, but in most of those cases, the insight leaves out the kinds of observations someone who has studied other aspects of society and culture can give.

Telling the truth carries risk.

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all 5 of the kids were more than okay with the film....they are all boys and they all liked the film...they had a few questions about who some of the characters were....and a couple didn't care for the subtitles...they also asked a few questions about different events.. ..but they were not "shocked" by the violence....my 13 year old said it was not as "gorey" as he expected..... and actually, he is right.....Jesus was beaten more brutally in real life and looked much, much worse than depicted on this film...as Kit has mentioned. still, the film is graphic....you know your kids best...some kids can handle it and others can't.

btw, i would much rather let my kids see this film than have them watch MTV or a lot of the other garbage that is on tv and in the movies currently.

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