Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
So now the story seems to be that Icon may have overstated the Pope’s alleged reaction to seeing THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. The Vatican now claims that the Pope never said “It is as it was,” and that he would not be making any official comment on the movie. Man, that’s gotta suck for Newmarket. They almost had the chance to quote the Pope on a movie poster.
Not that there’s any lack of good reviews for this film out there. I’m still struggling to articulate just what I felt about the movie, and hope to have a review ready soon. In the meantime, here’s someone who seems to have reacted quite strongly...
I have been reading your site on an almost daily basis for about 2 years. I love checking in daily to see what's happening in the movie world. I have especially appreciated your coverage of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." I had the privilege this afternoon of sitting with 4,000 other church leaders at a special screening at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago. It's part of an attempt on the behalf of Icon Productions to get the support of influential church leaders for the movie. Mel Gibson was there in person for a Q&A time afterwards. From what I can see, the strategy is a huge success!
What we saw was a working print that was missing some effects and the final music score. I won't go into a huge amount of detail on the movie because the other reviews posted in the last few weeks have been very descriptive. However, let me share a few thoughts:
- The use of original languages is brilliant and works very effectively. There is not nearly as much dialogue as most other movies because Gibson's intent is to tell the story mainly through visuals. Using Aramaic and Latin gives the movie a very realistic feel that I have never experienced in a "Jesus" movie.
- The violence is very graphic and brutal. When you think of violent films, you imagine the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" or scenes from "Braveheart." But in "The Passion," the shots do not just glimpse Jesus' broken body--the LINGER on it. Predictable, the most disturbing images were during the flogging (whipping) and crucifixion scenes. At times I could barely watch it. It helped me understand better the Old Testament prophet Isaiah's words "by his stripes we are healed." When you see the flogging scene, you'll know what I mean by "stripes." However, the violence is not gratuitous, but wholly necessary to realistically and factually tell this story.
- The acting is simply marvelous. Jim Caviezel is basically unrecognizeable as Jesus. He gives an outstanding performance that is Oscar-worthy. It is not just a matter of acting like he was in pain--he simply had to BE in pain during some of those scenes.
- The accusations of the film being anti-Semitic are a joke. SOME of the Jews (most notably the Sanhedrin) were responsible, along with Herod and Pilate, but the movie in now way points out the Jewish people as the only ones responsible for Jesus' death.
- This will easily be the most important film released in 2004. It is the most graphic and accurate Jesus film ever made, and every person ought to see this movie when it's released. It doesn't matter if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus or not -- you owe it to yourself to witness this amazing piece of art. Mel Gibson has given us a masterpiece that must be seen to be believed. Really, no joke. I LOVE the Lord of the Rings movies, Spider-Man, the Last Samurai, and all the other great films in recent memory, but "The Passion" is on a whole different level altogether in terms of importance, achievement and raw artistic, cultural and spiritual value.
After the movie, Bill Hybels (the senior pastor of Willow Creek) did a Q&A time with Gibson. For someone with so much fame, money and success, Gibson is a very humble man. It is a real joy to see someone with so much passion and energy for a project. He spoke openly about his faith in Christ and why this film is so important to him. Gibson is Catholic, but Christians of every variety have welcomed him with open arms. This is a good thing! It takes something very special to gain the support of Christians from a wide spectrum. From the Pope to Billy Graham, beleivers of all kinds are turning out in droves to support Gibson. I find it ironic that it is a work of art that has brought people together on this level.
A man named Paul from Icon Productions accompanied Gibson to the screening, and they briefly mentioned the "internet guys" and the screening from BNAT this past December. They mentioned that you guys loved the movie. It was obvious both he and Mel appreciated the invitation to BNAT and enjoyed being there.
I am a music minister is a medium-size church not too far from Chicago, but in a couple of weeks I am moving to St. Louis to be a college professor. So if you use this on your site, call me "Music Prof."
Well, I appreciate you taking the time to write in, and I’m glad to see the film is still causing very strong reactions from those who see it.