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Oh, For Art's Sake! (The Passion)
Anna Zetchus Raetz

Posted on 02/28/2004 8:54:36 PM PST by AnnaZ

Oh, For Art's Sake!
Anna Zetchus Raetz, Los Angeles
Somewhere in the midst of all of the hype that preceded the Passion's highly (or warily) anticipated opening, the subject of the debate was lost, and, sadly, no one noticed.
To its detractors, the first stage was pre-emptive, sprung whilst the film was still being shot. It was dismissed as too inaccessible -- dead languages, an uncomfortable-to-the-point-of-gruesome focus, dogmatic. Distributors balked.
Once distribution was guaranteed regardless, the spectre of Anti-Semitism was the next attempted, still attempting, dissuader. Is Mel a Holocaust Denier? "Who killed Jesus"? Blood libel! Is the script too literal or too mythical? Are the roots not too Biblical, but really the rantings of a Jew-hating hallucinogenic nun?
Lots of seemingly normal people still planned to see it.
Thus, stage three was the launching, still flying, of the "too violent"-"gory"-"barbaric"-"fetishistic" assault, unsuccessfully disguised as public service. This, frankly, was the more amusing of the accusations if only for the sheer audacity of its hypocrisy, considering the sources from whence these slams derived. (The only thing more naked was the New York Times' article regarding studio heads' plans to boycott Gibson forthwith, a shockingly unspun outburst.)
Still, people went and saw it, I among them, and Passion of the Christ had the biggest opening of an R-rated film. Ever. By a mile.
But due to the cacophony from both sides I now realize that I will not have seen it until I see it a second time, without their words ringing in my ears. And I strongly recommend the same to all.
As I exited the theatre after seeing it opening night, I was suffused with love for my fellow man and resolute in my philosophy that there is nothing of greater import than one's relationship with God, with one's Creator, and that, at the end of the day, it's between the individual and Jesus.
Here, the film said to me, here is this gift, do you accept it? And if you choose to accept the story just depicted then the only acceptable response to it, indeed the demand of it, is love. Accept it and arise, new, redeemed, golden, victorious. Decline and one's fate is that of the maggot-ridden ass, of Legion, dust and howls and bones. And all this demonstrated with very, very few words.
As I walked with friends and family down the street a sad anger aimed at the detractors began to build inside, an anger certain, though dulled by the depth of the experience.
Too narrow? It is the directive of the director's faith. Anti-Semitic? Almost every protagonist is Jewish. Too violent? Not, unfortunately, compared to reality. Too not what you'd prefer it would be? It is one artist's vision.
Too beautiful! The colors, the poses, the lighting, the emotion. A film -- neither agitprop nor absolution, but rather a moving tableau illustrating God's love for man, created by a man who loves God in return, with a dying world in between. Within the confines of Gibson's understanding he has touched the depths of that question that lives within us, that is answered daily in the complex and the banal, in the choices of the moment that craft the theme of a lifetime.
For this aspect, and this alone, some will love it and some will hate it and some will weep and some will be stunned and it needs to be seen again on its own worthy merits, for what it is, unperverted by the prism of anyone but one's self.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:
for they are foolishness unto him:
neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned.
    1st Corinthians 2:14
See it in the Spirit, see it in the flesh, but for a moment at least see it simply as art. Where is the discussion of the lighting, the performances, the camera work, the music, the vision? Mel Gibson's Passion of The Christ may very well be, so far, the 21st Century's Sistine Chapel, but the viewers will need to look up to see it. To be finally appreciated as such, The Passion will need to survive the boxes that people on both sides keep attempting to put it into. And thus has it always been for real, actual, art -- with the pious and the fashionistas, down the road, trying to convince all that they were there in the beginning.
For at the end of the day, this is art -- meditative, redemptive, devotional, powerful art -- because that was the gift of the director. The film is less a series of scenes and more a literally and figuratively moving mural of, objectively, an incredible story. It doesn't try to be a documentary, for which one should be grateful.
This week has been tough in Hollywood with the Oscars overshadowed by, of all things, a film that exalts the Lamb of God. The American Film Market is also currently in town, and the self-promoting and self-congratulating is reaching crescendo.
After seeing the movie a few of us went around the corner for a drink, to relax, ruminate. A man was hosting a party for himself -- posters for his movie all around, the flick itself projected onto the walls, postcard-sized headshots that read "For your consideration for work"...
After what we had just experienced it was a garish surreality. We chose to step back outside lest the resonance of the beauty we had experienced slip out of our grips as well.

TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: passion; thepassion
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To: Syncro
"But I don't think it was my "imagination"

I understand you.

Does inspiration come to many people but only a few can put it in words, or into stone or even onto canvess or celluloid in ways that leave the rest of us practically speechless?

101 posted on 02/29/2004 2:38:31 PM PST by Dust in the Wind (I've got peace like a river . . .)
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To: AnnaZ
I just watched the Passion with my wife.

I got in the car before I remembered that I smoke.....................


102 posted on 02/29/2004 2:39:34 PM PST by Eaker ("Do I feel your pain?? Hell, I caused your pain!!!!" - Tom Eaker, 2004)
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To: AnnaZ
Thank you for the beautiful homage to this beloved film. I just returned from seeing it and its beauty and love I find overwhelming.
103 posted on 02/29/2004 3:23:13 PM PST by eleni121 (Preempt and Prevent)
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To: AnnaZ
We have tickets for tommorow at 2:00PM in Murfreesboro TN (a bedroom community 30 miles SE outside Nashville where my mom lives and where she will watch the children).

It should be noted that all of the shows today on 3 screens at the Carmike multiplex were sold out as well as all evening shows till March 9th and all weekend showing thru next weekend. Basically only some matinees were open for the next week and a half.

Murfreesboro is the hub of Rutherford county with a city population of around 70K and countywide population of around 200k and is one of 7 counties comprising metro Nashville.
104 posted on 02/29/2004 4:49:01 PM PST by wardaddy (A man better believe in something or he'll fall for anything.)
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To: AnnaZ; dix; humblegunner; Allegra; antivenom; bobbyd; eastforker; Flyer; Humidston; olliemb; ...
The Passion.

Where to start?

The hype and reviews would have swayed me in a normal movie.  I forgot about all of it as I watched.  I forgot that I was a husband, father, friend, and FReeper.  I slipped quietly into the movie.  Only occasionally did I really remember that it was indeed a movie.  Quite a few idiots brought children from baby to teen, but there was just barely a peep from them.  Bringing children is just stupid, but bringing mature teens is acceptable as long as they understand the story, know who the players are and have a grasp that Jesus died for us.  For our sins.

I never thought about a drink or popcorn, which is understandable considering the gravity of the material.  However, after getting into the car when the movie was over I realized that I never once thought about a cigarette.  I have been a smoker for 32 years.  Smokers will understand.

To the movie.

The cinematography was unbelievable.  There were no gaps, only a few breathing breaks that came in handy.  One could breath during the flashback scenes for the most part, but during the movie breathing was an option.

I felt as if I was walking in the crowd during some of the scenes, and not during other scenes.  I really had to think about why, then being a FReeper kicked in. When I felt part of the crowd I was a rank and file person amongst fellow workers.  Craftsmen, blacksmiths, accountants, buyers and the like.  When I was not part of the crowd it was during the day when I would have been at work.  It was the motley mob of lackeys that we conservatives rail against.  The very people who don't work and want higher taxes.  They cheered every time the Jewish High Council call for crucifixion.  They actually chanted the word in response to their corrupt leaders.  They could show up at 9:00am on Tuesday morning.  I and all of my friends would have been at work.

Satan walked among them ........ every time.  Satan and that damned baby, or the baby of the damned.  I have to work on that one as I am really woefully ignorant of the Bible and need to make sure that I am not walking with Satan on occasion.

The Romans were a different story.  I could see the difference in rank by attitude.  The ones who took great relish in beating Jesus were the scummy conscribes, kicked out of better units, stationed in "hell" and without a prayer of a better life.  They were not your average producing, 401k saving, want to retire someday Roman.  They were the dregs.  The Romans on horseback rolled their eyes and I could see them chanting the same mantra that I chanted throughout most of the movie.  Quit hitting him.  For your souls sake quit hitting him.

Pilate was a middle manager in a crappy job in "hell".  Normally he would have been there for two years and gone back to Rome with a cushy job.  He had been there for eleven years and on top of that Caesar was ticked at him.  "One more uprising and the blood is yours" is what Caesar had told him.  

He was between a rock and a hard place.  That is a funny saying and many of us use it.  We never discuss what it means.  He didn't have any options.  There was going to be an uprising either way.  He had Jesus beaten 98% to death to save Jesus' life and that wasn't good enough.  I am not trying to make Pilate out as a good man as he would not have been in this position if he was a good man.  He was stuck.  He did have a good wife as she felt the Mother's pain and brought her cloths.  It is a shame that you could see the yellow streak up her back when she turned and ran from what could have been a gracious act.

I never felt like a father.  There was no place for me to be a father.  I was a friend to the Mother.  I couldn't project me as a father to Jesus.  I hurt for Jesus, but knowing Jesus' power and grace I could not put myself in that place.

The subtitles were not a problem.  No problem at all.  I actually picked up on some words and phrases and could skip reading some of the subtitles.  Other times the character could only say one thing.  I didn't have to read those.  When the guards were beating Jesus subtitles were neither used nor required.  I could fill in the blanks and that kind of sickened me, about me.

The movie's score was masterful.  It never interfered and only occasionally became part of the experience.  When it presented itself I always knew that the Calvary was coming.  It didn't.  It never did.  I knew it couldn't, but so wanted to see some of our favorite Hollywood heroes come over the hill and righteously kick some butt.  I and my friends and my FRiends would have done some stomping.

We all know that it wasn't our place.  Jesus could have stopped the proceedings at any time.  He could have called upon our Father to bring in 20 legions of Angels at ANY time.  They were close, weeping and ready.  He couldn't as that would not have cleansed our sins.

That is my take, right or wrong and sorry to be so long winded.

105 posted on 02/29/2004 8:29:26 PM PST by Eaker ("Do I feel your pain?? Hell, I caused your pain!!!!" - Tom Eaker, 2004)
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To: AnnaZ
good article...It was such a realistic portrayal of Christ's sacrifice.I thought that the dialogue in their own language gave it more realism.
106 posted on 02/29/2004 8:33:27 PM PST by fabian
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To: Eaker
Mr Eaker you have missed your calling ...........very good.

Stay safe !

107 posted on 02/29/2004 8:37:27 PM PST by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.)
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To: Eaker
Well Said!!!
108 posted on 02/29/2004 9:01:23 PM PST by olliemb
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To: Eaker
Thanks FRiend. I haven't been yet and am really anxious to see it for myself. I remember years ago, seeing a medical explanation for what Christ went through and it was staggering. I wish I had copied it.

You've given me a good description.
109 posted on 02/29/2004 9:18:40 PM PST by Humidston (Two Words: TERM LIMITS)
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To: Eaker
That is my take, right or wrong and sorry to be so long winded.

Thank you.


110 posted on 02/29/2004 9:25:39 PM PST by thackney (Life is Fragile, Handle with Prayer)
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To: AnnaZ
Where is the discussion of the lighting, the performances, the camera work, the music, the vision?

Thank you. I was just saying, on another thread, that I have never seen so many movie reviews that mentioned *none* of those things. Until now.

111 posted on 02/29/2004 9:29:10 PM PST by hellinahandcart
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To: Eaker
Best thing you've ever written Tom.

God Bless

112 posted on 03/01/2004 5:02:07 AM PST by HoustonCurmudgeon (PEACE - Through Superior Firepower)
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To: AnnaZ
And if you choose to accept the story just depicted then the only acceptable response to it, indeed the demand of it, is love.

By now millions have testified that this was their reaction. Yet, William Safire just told us that the only response to the film is vengeance.

Who is blind?

113 posted on 03/01/2004 5:07:59 AM PST by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Eaker
Thanks for sharing that, brother.
114 posted on 03/01/2004 5:16:23 AM PST by humblegunner
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To: Eaker
Thank you
115 posted on 03/01/2004 5:22:15 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Just once I'd like to get by on my looks.)
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To: AnnaZ
Okay, okay, okay...Geez, I will see it a THIRD time for God's sake (the pun intended)...)

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!!!

116 posted on 03/01/2004 9:43:01 AM PST by Outraged
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To: AnnaZ
Thanks for the flag and analysis!
117 posted on 03/01/2004 10:01:59 AM PST by The_Eaglet (Conservative chat on IRC:
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To: tame
Ping to post #105
118 posted on 03/01/2004 12:42:52 PM PST by Eaker ("Do I feel your pain?? Hell, I caused your pain!!!!" - Tom Eaker, 2004)
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To: AnnaZ
Beautiful article.
119 posted on 03/01/2004 12:49:33 PM PST by RightWingMama
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To: livius
Interesting that you mention "all the senses".

My wife thought that the music in the movie was excellent.

Hers was the first comment that I've heard/read on the score.
120 posted on 03/01/2004 1:01:26 PM PST by kidd
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To: AnnaZ
Thanks for the ping AnnaZ! Great writing. I've been on vacation for the last week, so I'm just now catching up on my Freeping. I plan on seeing The Passion this weekend with my wife.
121 posted on 03/08/2004 8:10:43 AM PST by Pest (I will choose Free Will!)
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To: Outraged
Looks like I'll be seeing it for the third time next week, when my mom comes into town. I have never ever done that before... not in a theater.
(An aside: I find it interesting that, as overrun as we are by a secularly biased media that extols the virtues of "nuance", the biggest moneymakers on the big screen haven't had any shades of gray.)

122 posted on 03/08/2004 8:27:24 AM PST by AnnaZ (I hate Times New Roman... and it's all Mel Gibson's fault!)
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To: Eaker
I just saw The Passion of Christ.


I feel I have to give background first, sorry to those who don’t want to hear it.

I am a born-again Christian. I lived without God in my life and in a pit of despair, lost and confused, I prayed for help. How I got there before and after are too long a story and a distraction, but I feel my point-of-view is very important to my view of this movie. The hymn Amazing Grace is about me; and that greatly affects how I saw the movie.

I know the story well. After turning back to God, I’ve read and studied the Gospels along with the rest of the Bible. And I’ve read and studied other “texts and lost gospels” not in the Bible.

With all the hype, I expected the “graphic gore” to be much worse. Honestly, I think it fit very well to what I know of the time. I didn’t find it a distraction, but I did find it made it more personal and real, than previous readings have done for me.

When Judas pointed out Jesus, my eyes already began to swell. I felt pain for Judas and what had begun.

When Peter denied Jesus, my chest heaved. The pain he was going through for how he responded in fear, and the fulfillment of prophesy just hours before was already moving me.

When Jesus was first being beaten, my tears fell. Later, during the flogging, when I remember the phrase “this is my body, broken for you; this is my blood, poured out for you”, I wept.

While Jesus began to carry the cross (and this sounds corny), I wanted to carry it for him. I knew Simon was coming and somehow I wanted that to be me. Then I thought “I can’t carry the cross for Jesus, he carries it for me”. I wept a lot after that. During those scenes, I often heard sobbing in the theater from others.

I feared the crucifixion scene by now. What I have read, I expected this to be the worst part. I think this was intentional glossed over; by now many of the audience is wrenched.

When I had previously read about Mel Gibson’s cameo, I thought it a bit too much, too vain. I know understand better his desire and think better of him for it.

I expected the sub-titles to be a big distraction; I’ve never liked them in a movie. At first, they were somewhat of a distraction, but quickly became unimportant to me. In retrospect and a global perspective, it is probably better. No one on earth will see this movie made for their country as it is in a dead language. Perhaps it will give it more appeal to the rest of the world.

I cannot begin to see this movie as anti-Semitic. I saw the high priests as foolish people caught up in their own importance. The multiple lies they tell trying to get Jesus executed made them seem foolish and scared. But this was not a trait of their faith and people, just the selfish people trying to have fame and fortune they did not deserve. All of the people who tried to help Jesus were Jewish. The only outright scorn give by the Roman to the Jews were to Jesus and Simon who helped him.

I’ve never been to a movie where everyone stayed quiet and seated until the very end of the credits. In reality, I needed that time to pull myself together. Walking outside through the snow in 18°F weather seemed something of a shock. I stumbled out of the theater without a clear understanding where I was.

I went alone. My wife is too emotionally involved to see it in a theater scene. We will own it on DVD and she will watch in the privacy of our home, with plentiful use of the pause button.

I’m glad I saw it in the theater. I may need to see it there again, I will own a copy of it for our home. I don’t think it is for young teens, and I think a talk about it before and after would be best for older teens seeing it.

I’m glad we had communion this Sunday. I would like some time before I take communion again.

Peace of God be with you all.
123 posted on 03/08/2004 11:01:52 PM PST by thackney (Life is Fragile, Handle with Prayer)
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To: thackney
While reading your review, you brought me right back into the theature to see it again.(through your eyes)

Excellent job, and believe me when I say that I experianced the same thing to a T.

124 posted on 03/08/2004 11:07:03 PM PST by Cold Heat (Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. --Mark Twain)
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To: thackney
I just saw The Passion of Christ.

Yes, you did. In a way that few really could.

Take care bro'.

125 posted on 03/09/2004 4:44:09 AM PST by Eaker ("Do I feel your pain?? Hell, I caused your pain!!!!" - Tom Eaker, 2004)
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To: teresat

Hey, good to see you!

126 posted on 07/03/2004 5:41:34 AM PDT by RaceBannon (God Bless Ronald Reagan, and may America Bless God!)
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