Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Overstreet

The Passion of the Christ

Recommended Posts

\"And now, Mark Harris of the Georgia Straight:

There are some parts of the New Testament that are known to have been altered for political purposes. The most insidious of these misrepresentations is the systematic slander of Pharisaic Judaism by the Gospels' editors. Whitewashing the Roman role in Christ's judicial murder was the editors' second major priority.\"

This is a fairly well-documented position in Gospel's Studies. It is a point of view that you will find in all of the classic liberal studies of the Gospels from the period of history when scholars first began to think of the Gospels not as canonical, but "historical" pictures of Jesus that are subject to scrutiny just like any other "historical" document.

Now, Mark Harris doesn't seem to know that there is a ton of variance on these positions in contemporary thought. I personally wouldn't want to have been quoted saying what he has. Especially the "whitewashing the Roman role" bit. That is a bit of a non sequitor. The early church was not interested enough in getting in the good graces of Rome to alter the details of Jesus' life story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, a revised version of my review is now up at my site, FWIW.

And Mr. Bortz, I have no quarrel with you. Of course I don't! 8)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jason Bortz wrote:

: : You mean, the first movie ever to be rated PG-13? Is it the most violent

: : movie ever? Nah.

:

: At the time it was, enough so that the Guinness Book of World Records

: listed it as the Most Violent Movie ever made, a title it held until Rambo

: III usurped it.

Oh, wait, I think I might remember knowing that once. Weird.

: However, my answer was tongue in cheek, denoted by the italics and the

: 'I know, I know.' But you don’t know me that well yet, so an easy mistake.

And "Nah" is the epitome of seriousness? Methinks you don't know me that well yet either. smile.gif

: : Well, for one thing, they often aren't pretending to be something

: : they're not.

:

: Would you have the reader believe 'The Passion' is a new benchmark in

: hypocrisy?

No, the kind of hypocrisy it deals in is nothing new.

: Your summation is your opinion. I came away with something you didn't

: -- I won't pretend to understand why.

Well, that's what we critics do -- we try to understand why films do what they do. (And I do think our primary focus SHOULD be the films, and not ourselves so much.)

: However, I find your rebuttal above at the very least dismissive and at

: the most broad brushed.

You asked why we go easier on "insubstantial" films. I said we go easier on some of them (but hardly all of them!) because they don't pretend to be what they're not. Whereas Mel Gibson and his supporters, from day one, have been pretending The Passion is something it's not.

: I also understand that methodological fashion means relatively little to a

: large portion of the moviegoing demographic.

Consciously, it may mean little to them. But it still affects how they see, whether they know it or not.

: Your analytical approach to Spielberg's cinematographic technique

: sidesteps the impact the 'casual violence' has on people who, say, aren't

: filmmakers -- and, just as valid, aren't as obviously experienced in

: matters of objective discernment as you are.

Well it's not for lack of opportunity on their part, if they are actually GOING to these films!

: Peter, the 'typicality' of a Gibson film versus a Spielberg film has nothing

: to do with what I addressed -- that saying Passion is more violent than

: Schindler's List by merit of the Holocaust being 'a violence-tolerant'

: theme is something akin to a double-standard.

Yes, just as all those social conservatives who deplore violent R-rated movies but endorse THIS one are employing a double-standard, too. I myself do not endorse these double-standards. Even with as hallowed a subject as the Holocaust, the important thing is not WHAT the movie is about, but HOW the movie is about it. And as with the Holocaust, so with the Crucifixion -- like the rabbi said, Jews should not allow their suffering to overpower the fact that it is Mt. Sinai, not Auschwitz, that defines who they are; likewise, while we Christians see profound significance in the cross (as a necessary phase in Jesus' quest to conquer death by death, and as the moment when he made a mockery of the world's honour-shame paradigms, etc.,) there is a lot more to us than that, and we CAN go too far in dwelling on the brutality of the crucifixion.

: : Wow. The second time I saw it, I just felt numbed, even bored.

:

: That's unfortunate, in my opinion.

In mine too. I'm just more apt to blame the filmmaker than myself. smile.gif

: : And as far as God's love is concerned, I think the Globe and Mail critic

: : has a point when he says that, within the typical Western Christian

: : worldview, the only person responsible for Christ's death is ... not the

: : Jews ... not the Romans ... not even us ... but God himself.

:

: I don’t know the Globe and Mail critic, nor do I know any typical Western

: Christians, but it's a provocative concept.

Oh sure you do -- Protestants and Catholics alike share certain belief in God's need to punish somebody, anybody, for the crimes committed by humans. Suffice to say that the Orthodox I know tend to focus on things a little differently, and this is, indeed, one of the primary reasons behind my current attendance at an Orthodox church (whatever qualms I might have with other aspects of Orthodoxy -- but I think I would have qualms no matter WHERE I went smile.gif ).

(M)Leary wrote:

: I gotta tell you though SDG, this film has done more to force Protestants

: to actually look into "Catholic" forms of spirituality than anything else in

: the last decade.

No doubt. Though for me the film just might confirm my Eastward drift. I don't think the film really challenges Protestants so much as it shows how certain Catholic tendencies are kind of like an extreme form of Protestantism. As I've said before, if it weren't for all the Mary stuff, this film would be right up Jack T. Chick's alley!

: I guess I am just trying to propose (as others have) that violence in the

: artistic depiction of the Passion is so unique that we can't quite make it

: part of the typical discussion of "violence in film." It exists in a different

: tradition. It has its own rules.

And yet I hope this is not to say that that tradition cannot, itself, be critiqued.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No. Oh, I am sorry to give that impression. BUT if it is to be critiqued, it must be critiqued from a thorough understanding of what it really is.

Gibson's film is a great case of people critiquing the tradition with little knowledge of it. They come away with false readings and critiques. It just seems that more powerful readings of the film will come out of someone inhabiting that tradition for the sake of criticism and reviewing the film that way. Exposing just where Gibson fits in the tradition itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Peter, for your clarification. There's one area I'd like to address (and I know I'll probably get a quote) smile.gif--

Whereas Mel Gibson and his supporters, from day one, have been pretending The Passion is something it's not.

I support Mel Gibson's effort, as I support every actor-turned-director who strikes out to present a personal vision in a way that audiences might benefit from.

Your insinuation that Mel is lying about something (for if he's pretending something is what he knows it isn't, that's what he's doing in representing it to others) has me baffled...I guess I just can't see how you can say it's not something that many others, and more than a few of them educated, artistic types, feel it is:

One man's vision and adaptation of the final hours of Christ's humanly walk, told with high production values and a passion for the material presented therein, which ultimately attempts to glorify our Lord's sacrifice directly, wholeheartedly, and as accurately as he knew how.

I get the impression that you feel that the only ardent supporters of this film are sheep--mindless followers, unable to discern true Art from hackneyed, hype-driven sensationalism. I know you probably don't feel this is true, but your reactions to those who came away with positive experiences have been less than conciliatory and more of a 'seeking the flaws despite the gold' paradigm. Even scrolling through this thread, your tendencies to positively reinforce those with negative critiques and to call to task those who found the film redemptive seem to support this perception of you...

Like when DGibfen said:

The startling contrast to the two thieves on the cross - who seemed virtually unhurt by any pre-crucifixion torture.

You repsonded with

Good point!

I don't get it--Christ was scourged. Pilate made an effort to appease the call for Christ's blood by having him severely flogged--one lash less than was considered deadly (yes, I concede, Mel did embellish here--but if anything, the caning should've been eliminated.) When the governor returned Christ to be judged the people still demanded his life. The two thieves were sentenced and summarily executed--they would not have borne the same amount of injuries.

How come ya didn't mention this?

Am I way off the mark? Are you upset with Mel, or what? I'd like to think I'm missing something--help me out here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've received several hate mails already this morning in response to my "Passion" review. One consisted merely of this interesting comment:

"I think you is the aggorant one."

:?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't get it--Christ was scourged. Pilate made an effort to appease the call for Christ's blood by having him severely flogged--one lash less than was considered deadly (yes, I concede, Mel did embellish here--but if anything, the caning should've been eliminated.) When the governor returned Christ to be judged the people still demanded his life. The two thieves were sentenced and summarily executed--they would not have borne the same amount of injuries.

We aren't told anything of their judgment, crimes, or other punishments. Crucifixion was not like our dignified executions of prisoners. It was among other things a public humiliation, which is why the bodies were likely stripped nude (which Gibson chose not to do). It's not much of a jump to figure that the others would have been beaten somewhere along the line. It's likely that there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about Jesus' crucifixion. Although letting him be taken down from the cross for burial might have been.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Darrell:

I hear ya. It's not much of a jump, no--but by the same token it isn't much of a jump to allow that they had not excited a mob mentality to riot against them, had not had religious authorities crying for their blood and had not incited the governing class to attempt to quash a potential uprising by appeasing them with a suitable, bloody punishment.

In the film they bled, screamed and gritted their teeth as well--they lacked the scourging and we didn't delve into their speculative beatings because it wasn't about them. (The crow was an odd touch that my internal jury is still out about...)

I don't claim they'd been allowed a dignified and 'clean' execution--early crucifixion was also carried out differently than the locked out legs and supporting beam behind the head and neck.

When reading the Bible, there are huge gaps between instances such as this--we never know what the thieves stole, for instance, but who cares?--and it's simple for us to accept this.

I submit that when it's put on screen, we are bidden to fill in the same type of blanks in a manner which points toward the consistency of the entire story and gives the benefit of the doubt to the visionary--and I believe that it's only when we can't do this without compromising the integrity of the tale that we should begin finding fault.

My question to Peter was along those lines: why is it such a simple thing to reiterate that it is a flawed piece and to staunchly adhere to the negative when there are just as many positive aspects which can be used to edify the overall effort?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, the film actually grossed $26.6 million in its first day, $1.1 million of that in Canada -- that's the 9th-highest opening day ever (the record is Spider-Man's $39.4 million), the 3rd-highest Wednesday ever (behind only The Return of the Kng's $34.5 million and The Phantom Menace's $28.5 million), and the highest opening day ever for a movie released outside the summer and winter holiday seasons (the previous record was Hannibal's $19.8 million -- yet another grisly R-rated movie with Christ-figure elements filmed partly in Italy and released in February). Oh, and in one day, The Passion of the Christ has surpassed the entire $25.6 million gross of Jonah - A VeggieTales Movie to become the top-grossing "Christian film" of all time.

Jason Bortz wrote:

: Your insinuation that Mel is lying about something (for if he's pretending

: something is what he knows it isn't . . .

I never said the word "knows". It is entirely possible that Gibson is, like many of his supporters, engaged in self-deception to some degree.

: I guess I just can't see how you can say it's not something that

: many others, and more than a few of them educated, artistic types, feel it is . . .

Since when do "feelings" matter? Gibson and his supporters have been hawking this film from day one for its alleged "authenticity", for its alleged "accuracy", and the film so clearly is NOT as accurate as everyone has been pretending it is. I do wish Christians would be more honest about this. But no, it seems a lot of them want to treat this film as a time machine, taking them back to see how it all "really" happened, bla bla bla.

: I know you probably don't feel this is true, but your reactions to those

: who came away with positive experiences have been less than

: conciliatory and more of a 'seeking the flaws despite the gold' paradigm.

Well, yes, when I see a severe imbalance in public discussion of the film, my natural instinct is to provide some sort of counter-balance, not to add to make the imbalance even worse than it already is. As it is, if you check my posts after my two screenings of the film on the original thread, you will see that I came away with positive experiences, too -- but not that many of them, and not that deep. (And ironically, despite all the evangelical hubbub around this film, the deepest impression this film made on me was to increase my awe and respect for Mary!)

: I don't get it--Christ was scourged. Pilate made an effort to appease the

: call for Christ's blood by having him severely flogged--one lash less than

: was considered deadly (yes, I concede, Mel did embellish here--but if

: anything, the caning should've been eliminated.)

Exactly -- Mel portrays the scourging as something that Pilate did not wish to happen, but which the soldiers inflicted on Jesus because Jesus all but invited them to abuse him even more than they already had. Mel lets Pilate off the hook. Mel is very, very inaccurate -- and not just on the level of fact, but in the overall tone of his portrayal of Jewish-Roman relations. (Oh, and Pilate was not interested in "appeasing" the crowd so much as he was interested in snubbing the crowd while getting away with whatever he could. I believe ALL of the gospels show Pilate calling Jesus the "King" of the Jews, and basically taunting the Jews by doing so.)

: . . . why is it such a simple thing to reiterate that it is a flawed piece and

: to staunchly adhere to the negative when there are just as many positive

: aspects which can be used to edify the overall effort?

"Just as many"? I doubt that. The film's negative elements overwhelm its positive ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My question to Peter was along those lines: why is it such a simple thing to reiterate that it is a flawed piece and to staunchly adhere to the negative when there are just as many positive aspects which can be used to edify the overall effort?

I appreciate this point, Jason, and I do hope you'll continue to encourage us along these lines.

Finding fault and belaboring the point is a fairly easy thing to do. Talking about things done well is the harder job.

So let's see:

The cinematography... good, sometimes breathtaking. I love the opening descent into Gethsemane... bringing us down to the level of human experience... until the moment that Christ gives up his spirit (nice subtle dilation of his eyes) and we sore suddenly right back up to God. (Interesting, that Gibson chose to avoid any suggestion of Christ's visit to hell.) I love the ballet-like fall of Jesus as Simon holds his hand, like some twisted dance.

Jim Caviezel's performance seemed "blank" to a lot of folks I've talked to, but I was powerfully affected and impressed by how intensely he "performed" through the makeup and the gore. The way he developed bonds with those who walked alongside him, all without dialogue... quite a marathon performance. He spoke Aramiac like he'd done so all his life, it seemed.

I appreciated the portrayal of spiritual warfare, even if I thought the childrens' pursuit of Judas was too over-the-top. Opening the film by making it very clear that this is a struggle between God and the devil was a wise choice to frame the whole film. Continually reminding us that Satan was behind all of the evil kept things in perspective. And I'm glad he didn't get carried away with the defeat of the Devil. (I especially appreciated that Satan's downfall in hell was an EMPTY pit... that he's in a sort of solitary confinement there.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And now THIS:

Two Studio Chairmen Wash Their Hands of Gibson

The chairmen of two major motion picture studios have told the New York Times that they will avoid working with Mel Gibson because of the contents of The Passion of the Christ and Gibson's remarks in promoting it -- particularly his refusal to distance himself from his father, who has denied the existence of the Holocaust. The Times said that neither studio head would speak for attribution, although, as one remarked: "It doesn't matter what I say. It'll matter what I do. I will do something. I won't hire him. I won't support anything he's part of. Personally that's all I can do." The Times also quoted an executive close to DreamWorks principals Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen as saying that the two men have privately expressed anger over the film. However, John Lesher, an Endeavor talent agent, told the newspaper that he doubted any backlash would be lasting. "People here will work with the anti-Christ if he'll put butts in seats," Lesher said. Meanwhile, the film continues to generate a mountain of news reports. The Google Internet search engine today listed 1,759 recent articles related to the movie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Finding fault and belaboring the point is a fairly easy thing to do. Talking

: about things done well is the harder job.

True. But those points can be belaboured, too.

: Continually reminding us that Satan was behind all of the evil kept things

: in perspective.

Actually, I'm somewhat leery of that. I don't think Satan is behind ALL the evil that goes on in the world -- each of us DOES have free will, after all -- though of course he exploits whatever he can.

: Two Studio Chairmen Wash Their Hands of Gibson

You can read the original story here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey--

Hey man, just call me Mr. Sunshine.

Peter--

True. But those points can be belaboured, too.

Talking about things well done can be belaboured...what if someone you've never met, or rarely talk to, praises a piece you didn't particularly like. Do you roll your eyes and dismiss them as 'one of the hopeless' based on your experience, or listen carefully to them and weigh their experience?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears Mel has more than one cameo in this film (the first, of course, being the hand holding the nail).

In an article regarding the soundtrack, composer John Debney says

Gibson also lent his voice to the soundtrack for some chants and other sound effects. \"He's a great actor,\" Debney notes. \"He can emote and do pained sounds. We had a lot of fun.\"

Article here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jason Bortz wrote:

: . . . what if someone you've never met, or rarely talk to, praises a piece

: you didn't particularly like. Do you roll your eyes and dismiss them as

: 'one of the hopeless' based on your experience, or listen carefully

: to them and weigh their experience?

Dude, people I've never met or seen or spoken to praise things I don't like All The Time on this board! And you'll find I don't dismiss people easily. The assertions people sometimes make, yes. (Not all opinions are equal. Hutton Gibson has his opinion about the Holocaust, and I have mine. And mine is right, and his is wrong.) But not the people themselves. And indeed, it is ONLY by hearing what other people have seen that I can develop a broader perspective myself. I would never be so naive as to assume that I can see everything all by myself. (And FWIW, I prefer "see" to "experience" because "see" keeps our focus outward, on the thing that can be seen and discussed publicly by all, whereas "experience" implies something more inward and out-of-bounds. Telling me about your "experience" of a film often tells me a lot more about you than it does about the film -- and that has its place, but it shouldn't be overemphasized.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been following the discussion on The Passion of the Christ for as long as we've had a thread, and will likely continue to follow its discussion; discussion which seems likely to continue for a long time. Until this moment I've never really had the desire to wade in and offer something to the discussion.

However, last night at 9:45 PM I finally saw the film and want to offer a few comments:

The theatre was completely sold out, not surprising considering the Bible Belt-esque make up of Saskatoon. However, there were no religious groups handing out tracts, and no altar call.

I came away really impressed with the film. I must admit, I'm a fan of Braveheart and many of Gibson's other films, however I would in no way consider myself blue-collar or uneducated. My father is a University professor and I myself am in my third year of an English Honours degree. That said, I find it a key component of my discipline to be able to critically analyze works of art.

Contrary to many of the opinions I've read, I found this film to be as good as any I've seen in recent years. From cinematography to acting, the film itself, and not the hype surrounding it, is ART. And as such, I was very pleased with it.

It's strange to disagree with people one respects so much, but this is the second film in recent months that I've had strong dissagreements with the general concensus of the board (the other film is Cold Mountain); and it's strange.

I agree with Jason. It definitelyl isn't the most violent film I've ever seen; perhaps a youth of watching Evil Dead has numbed me to the effects of violence, but no, I did find the film disturbing and hard to watch. But not so much because of the violence but the context of the violence.

Anyway, I just wanted to post my first few quick thoughts on the film and say that, while it isn't my favorite film of all time or anything, I definetely give it a hearty thumbs up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Jason. It definitelyl isn't the most violent film I've ever seen; perhaps a youth of watching Evil Dead has numbed me to the effects of violence, but no, I did find the film disturbing and hard to watch. But not so much because of the violence but the context of the violence.

I sympathise. I was quite unaffected by what I saw and actually found much of the beatings, particularly during the stations of the cross to be quite tedious and piling on. Maybe I'm jaded as well. I've often wondered if I am as I haven't shrunk from very much since I overcame The Horse's Head Scene as a teenager. I don't share your positive analysis of the film, though. Neither do I feel the following is a fair analysis either.

Check out www.andrewsullivan.com and scroll down to the PotC blog and the two or three that follow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've received several hate mails already this morning in response to my \"Passion\" review. One consisted merely of this interesting comment:  

\"I think you is the aggorant one.\"

:?

Did Tony Soprano write that? :wink:

"Hey boys, I needs ya to fly to Seattle and rough up the guy that wrote that bad review about 'da Jesus movie."

I did bring up your point about "This is not the fifth gospel" in a conversation about the film today. You articulated something much better than I could have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alan wrote:

: I've been waiting for these...

: and they're here (Frederica Mathewes-Green) . . .

I think I linked to this back in September on the mother thread. It prompted a theological tangent that got shifted over here.

: . . . and here (Chicago Greek Orthodox Diocese).

Wow! Groovy. At last, something quasi-official and on the record (as opposed to the competing personal viewpoints of Mathewes-Green and Reardon).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just re-posting something I just posted here:

- - -

It's weird seeing the death of Christ turned into just another pop-culture artifact that can be used to set up regular punchlines. Did anyone see Mel Gibson on Leno last night? In his monologue, Leno actually said "The message of the film is that we all killed Christ..." And then he said, "...except for Robert Blake!" I didn't know whether to be impressed that that one bit of theology ("we all killed Christ") had so permeated the culture that Leno could just take it for granted that we'd catch the reference (compare this to his mistaken belief that his audience would get his reference to Alexander Hamilton in another joke -- boy, did THAT joke fall flat), or chagrined to see it become yet another excuse to humiliate a celebrity caught in a tabloid scandal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m starting to understand why I see you on at 3:00 AM Peter…you don’t sleep, do you? biggrin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...