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"My own viewing of the film" + "Mel does a Tarantino job on Christ"
My own viewing of the film ^ | 2004 | 2 authors

Posted on 02/20/2004 1:44:16 PM PST by dennisw

http://wquercus.com/passion.htm



My own viewing of the film   (NOT WRITTEN BY DENNISW)


Summary 
I saw a nearly completed version in Denver in January at the conference of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Based on that, I can affirm that all the statements made about the movie I've quoted above are true, both the comments from those who loved it and from those who are concerned. It is a beautiful and well-crafted work of art. It is a clearly Catholic work, accenting the self-giving of Jesus, his relationship with Mary, and the Eucharist. It is gory, with excessive and gratuitous violence (including a crow plucking out the eyes of the "bad thief" after his taunting of Jesus). 

And it does exaggerate the role of the Jews. There are many examples that could be cited. Jesus is beaten to a bloody pulp by the temple guards (and thrown off a bridge) before he ever gets to Caiaphas. Jews are present in the Praetorium for the scourging of Jesus--and only Romans express concerns about the excesses inflicted by both their own guards and the Jews. There are no sympathetic figures on the via dolorosa, except for figures from Scripture and tradition, such as Simon and Veronica, who have generally been seen as people who came to believe in Jesus--Gibson inexplicably left out Jesus greeting the women of Jerusalem. Caiaphas leads the procession to Calvary on a donkey, and presides over the execution as if he were in charge. The earthquake at the end, an act of divine vindictiveness, is barely noticed by Pilate, but creates a chasm in the temple (the Biblical tearing of the veil is left out, though). 

It is a movie, with good and bad. For most Catholics, it will be a moving meditation on the sufferings of Christ. For others, it will be perhaps puzzling, perhaps just a work of art, perhaps revolting. For some, it will confirm their deepest prejudices. 

Unfortunately, in the months since we first heard details emerge, advocates of the movie have refused to discuss it in objective terms. They have slandered those who have asked questions, glossed over the movie's inaccuracies and distortions, and have made excuses for its horrific violence. 

And yet discussing such a movie is essential. We should be able to ask the same questions of it as we would ask of any film--What's good? What's not as effective? Where does it follow Scripture? Where does it depart? Why? Unfortunately, we've seen that those who have asked such questions to date have far too frequently received blank looks or hostility in return. 

This movie needs to be evaluated in terms of the objective criteria provided by the US Catholic Bishops, and in the context of the history of passion plays. This is what a group of scholars did when they obtained the script. But the defenders of Mel focused on the question of how they got the script, and not on the issues they raised. 

For my own part, I don't think Mel was being intentionally antisemitic. He wanted to make a movie focusing on the meaning of the Passion for us. He used the writings of an 18th century German nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich, as the basis, and this resulted in the inclusion of some problematic elements. Her Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the product of a pious but overworked imagination, and reflects both misunderstanding and ignorance of Scripture and unquestioning acceptance of antisemitic assumptions that prevailed among Catholics of the era. Some of her most bizarre scenes that were in the initial script, as indicated by the Scholars Report, are not in the movie (e.g., Caiaphas having the cross made in the temple courtyard, Jesus having the Passover lamb killed in the upper room rather than the temple). But her "visions" are so much a part of this movie that it would be fair to say it is a movie of her book, not of the Gospels. 

In months gone by, some few spoke of boycotting or protesting the movie. That, I think, would be extreme, and inappropriate. But the reaction to this film (and questioning of it) does underscore the question of how well Catholic theologians and leaders are communicating contemporary Catholic teaching on the Passion and on relations with the Jews, and so provides an opportunity for discussion and education. 

Would I recommend it to people who want to know about Jesus and the gospel? No. I'd tell them to see "The Gospel of John," "Jesus" (based on Luke's gospel alone), or even "Jesus of Nazareth." But I would use "Passion" as an example of a great work of art that unfortunately presents wrongful stereotypes and pre-Vatican 2 theology. 

The positives 
The movie, as I said, is a very Catholic vision. It is easy to see why so many Catholics have got so caught up in it that the offensive parts have slipped by them. It is harder for me to understand why Evangelicals have shared their enthusiasm. 

The film opens with a scripture that accents the theological point Gibson wants us to focus on: Isaiah 53 ("He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities--with his stripes we are healed"). We are then in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus confronts Satan. The scene is a creative parallel to the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, and raises the question: Can Jesus really bear the sins of the world? Can he go through with it? Does God even want him to? (This is really the same question posed by Kazantzakis, though in a different way). 

I like the way he deals with Malchus, whose ear is severed by a frightened Peter, and restored by Jesus. 

I think it oddly effective the way Mary wakes up at night and asks the question from the Seder, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" (a contribution from the actress herself). 

There are some very effective scenes highlighting the relationship between Jesus and Mary, including a humorous exchange in the carpenter's shop which shows some playfulness between them (a scene that really surprised me, because no one had mentioned it to me). 

Though it is not scriptural, I appreciate Gibson's use of the Stations of the Cross and the Pieta. These make the film a piece of devotional art, rather than an historical portrayal. If this had been accented from the beginning, instead of the claim that it was "the most accurate movie ever," things may have been a little different. 

Though it is not scriptural, I think the scene of the child-demons taunting the despairing Judas is an amazing interpretation, and quite chilling. 

The various flashbacks are very well done, and serve both to break up the violence and to accent theological points. 

The Eucharistic themes are very powerful; flashbacks throughout the crucifixion take us back to the Last Supper, and the unwrapping of the bread, and the blessing of the bread and cup. 

In a scene at the end, the camera follows a raindrop from the sky (a tear from heaven?) until it splashes at the foot of the cross; the sound reverberates and leads into the earthquake. A striking piece of film--though theologically suspect, as I'll highlight below. 

It is easy to understand why Catholics get so emotionally caught up in it that they have often failed to notice the problems--and these are many. 

The negatives 
Gibson is not merely telling the Gospel account, but adds to it in ways that consistently accent the culpability of Jews and mitigate that of the Romans. He adds violent beatings of Jesus--by Jews--that are not in Scripture. He changes the entire feel of the story as the Gospels tell it. In the Scriptural account, Jesus is snatched quietly, at night, to avoid the crowds. Jesus is willing to go quietly, and keeps the disciples from fighting back. He is held while the high priest gathers his council. During it, there is some physical abuse by the guards and some taunting and one slapping of his face, but the Evangelists don't elaborate on this or draw it out. Then he is delivered to Pilate. Gibson changes the tenor of all these scenes, making them more dramatic, more violent, more frightening. He also adds scenes that contradict explicit statements in Scripture. According to John, the Jews refuse to enter the Praetorium. No Jew--not even a disciple--is depicted as present in the Praetorium. But Gibson has them there. 

In Mel's version, the beating of Jesus begins immediately upon his arrest, contrary to the Gospels. He is wrapped in chains, and at one point thrown off a bridge. These added beatings, by Jews, and the behavior of the Jews in subsequent scenes, make them a bloodthirsty, barbarous people--the only exceptions being those who believe in Jesus or are sympathetic to his cause. Jews are depicted in customary stereotypes, as greedy and money-grubbing, who can be easily bought off in the middle of the night. The Jewish leaders are seen as the equals of or more powerful than the Romans, which is contrary to history. The Jewish high priest at the time was a Roman appointee, answerable to Pilate--not in Mel's version, though. 

The Jewish violence which began in the garden is unleashed without mercy in the court of the high priest. Jesus arrives, a bruised and bloody mess--perhaps a hundred people are crammed into the room, anxious for the spectacle to begin. Immediately after the "trial," the priests take turns hitting and spitting on Jesus, and then the guards and observers join in, beating him with sadistic glee. In this melee Peter, who is in the room itself, is grabbed and manhandled, and accused of being a follower of Jesus. 

Gibson's Pilate is a weak and indecisive administrator who grouses about the rabble and about being stuck in this stinking outpost. When the excessively large crowd gathers in the courtyard of the Praetorium, Pilate goes out and, seeing Jesus for the first time, is disgusted by what the Jews have done. He asks the priests, “Do you always punish them before you judge them?” In the scenes which follow, Pilate appears as a lone and weak representative of Rome, with inadequate troops at his disposal, not the brutal governor know from history. He muses, “If I don’t condemn him, Caiaphas will rebel. If I do, his followers will. Either way there will be bloodshed.” Soldiers inform him that there is already an uprising. The priests, temple guards, and people are growing ugly. But instead of putting them in their place, as the historical Pilate would have done, they are appeased. 

Pilate decides to have Jesus beaten, thinking this will satisfy the bloodlust of the Jews. Jesus is taken within. The leading priests go in, watching through a gate--but clearly on Roman soil, contrary to the Gospels. Jesus is beaten first with rods until he collapses. There’s a pause. Jesus stands. The Romans are perturbed. They get the flagella. One hits the table—the metal embedded in the strands of the whip sticks fast in the surface of the table. They begin to apply it to Jesus’ back. It sticks, and rips skin away. The violence goes on longer than any human could withstand. The camera lingers, fascinated, voyeuristic. The only breaks are to follow Mary as she leaves the scene, unable to watch any more (yes, she is there--and she will wipe up the blood afterwards, using towels given to her by Pilate's wife). 

A Roman comes and orders them to stop: “You were ordered to punish him, not to scourge him to death.” This is but the first instance where Romans are depicted as having a conscience, or at least a limit to what they will inflict on a person. The Jews have none. The Romans are egged on by Satan, wandering through the crowd--the Jews need no such encouragement. 

In the version I saw, after Pilate gives in to their demands the crowd shouts, gleefully, “His blood be upon us and our children.” Pilate gives up, and says to his men, “Do as they wish.” Rumors say Mel has taken this line out. That's good, as it was traditionally understood by Christians to extend the guilt for Deicide through history to contemporary Jews; but it doesn't minimize the exaggerated depiction of the Jews that we've endured to this point. And more is to come. 

The procession to Calvary appears to be a religious event, led by priests riding donkeys; flashbacks recall Palm Sunday. The crowds lining the road this time are hostile and merciless, berating and pummeling Jesus as he passes. The Romans beat them back. Arriving at Calvary, Jesus is nailed to the cross--again, the violence is exaggerated and excessive, with the camera lingering over the scene as the cross is flipped over, with Jesus face down; blood dripping; the protruding ends of the nails are bent over, and then the cross is flipped over the other way. 

A thief taunts Jesus to save himself and them. The crowd joins in the taunting, as does the High Priest, who says, “If he is the Messiah, let him come down that we may believe.” Caiaphas walks around as if he is the senior official presiding over the execution. He does not protest at the sign nailed to the cross by the Romans. There is no division of roles here--they are doing his bidding. 

When Jesus prays, "Father, forgive them," the good thief says (as in Scripture), “Listen, he prays for you. We deserve this, but he doesn’t. Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” Jesus promises that he will be in paradise. The bad thief, Gesmas, laughs. A crow drops from heaven and pecks out his eyes. Hardly an answer to that prayer for forgiveness, is it? 

The sky darkens, and the priests leave. The Romans let Mary approach. Throughout, they've shown her sympathy, assisting her in the crowd, casting nervous glances at her, talking amongst themselves. 

Jesus dies. The camera looks down on Calvary. A drop of rain condenses, and the camera follows it down to the ground. It hits with explosive force, and an earthquake rocks the hill. Pilate is rattled. The temple is hit hardest; a chasm opens in the floor, and rocks fall on the priests. The sense is clearly one of divine judgment (like the crow eating the eyes of the thief). The drop of rain is like a divine tear; we see a picture of God as grieving in human fashion, his grief quickly turning to anger, and lashing out, not at the Romans, but at the Jews, and particularly at the Jewish religious authorities. 

It is an awful depiction, and recalls the worst of medieval passion plays. Yet most of the Christians in the usually select audiences that have seen it so far are oblivious to these things. Even a handful of politically conservative Jewish commentators claim to have seen nothing problematic. But those Jews who have seen it who are not predisposed to be generous to Mel have been shocked by the portrayal. A special screening in Houston included local Jewish community members and representatives of the national offices of the ADL and American Jewish Committee. All had similar reactions. They sat like strangers in the auditorium, unable to understand the emotional reactions of the Christians around them, and unable to understand, when they spoke with those Christians later, how they could have missed the parts of the film that so troubled the Jews. 

____________________________________________________________




Here are some comments from viewers of the film here in Australia, including Jews. This was published in the Daily Telegraph: 


Mel does a Tarantino job on Christ 
February 20, 2004 

FEDERAL MPs were 'visibly shaken' by Mel Gibson's film on Christ, reports TORY MAGUIRE. 

Jewish MP Michael Danby hadn't seen such violence "since I went to a Quentin Tarantino film", he said after an advance screening of Mel Gibson's new film about Jesus Christ. 

Multicultural Affairs Minister Gary Hardgrave had to turn away from the screen many times and left the theatre with pulse racing. 

And Sydney MP Bruce Baird called it "brutal" and "gory". 

Three hundred MPs and staffers got to view The Passion of Christ at Parliament House on Wednesday. 

Filmed in Aramaic, the movie has raised allegations it is anti-Semitic and too violent. 

Verdicts on the film's merits differed but the consistent theme was that it was "confronting", "gory" and "brutal." Some viewers left the theatre in tears at the end of the screening and many, including Treasurer Peter Costello and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, were visibly shaken. 

Sydney MP Bruce Baird said he thought the movie was a faithful depiction of Christ's final 12 hours but "I wished they didn't spend quite as long on the floggings". 
Parliamentary Christian Fellowship chairman Mr Baird helped organise the screening. He said parents should not take children under 16 to see the film. 

Mr Hardgrave said he would advise those who were disturbed by the film to see their priest or rabbi or other religious elder. "The amount of violence was just breathtaking," Mr Hardgrave said. 

"We all knew that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and rose again, but to see the suffering portrayed was very confronting." 

Mr Danby was "taken aback by the violence and, frankly, I found that two hours of Aramaic and subtitles is hard going". 

"I was probably the only person in the whole audience who understood large parts of the film because Aramaic is like Hewbrew and I speak Hewbrew," he said. 

Just yesterday, Gibson's father Hutton Gibson caused a stir in the US when he said on radio he thought claims of the Holocaust were "exaggerated". "It's all – maybe not all fiction – but most of it is," Mr Gibson Sr said. 
Mr Danby, however, said The Passion of Christ would not stir great anti-Semitism. 

"I don't think there will be any major implications of this film," Mr Danby said. 

"But it is my feeling from the film that Mel Gibson is his father's son. 

"I think the Catholic Church and the Pope have over the past 30 years affected a reconciliation between Judaism and Christianity that is really wonderful and as far as I am concerned the Pope speaks for Catholics, not Mel Gibson."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: moviereview; thepassion
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1 posted on 02/20/2004 1:44:16 PM PST by dennisw
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To: dennisw
Gibson is not merely telling the Gospel account, but adds to it in ways that consistently accent the culpability of Jews and mitigate that of the Romans. He adds violent beatings of Jesus--by Jews--that are not in Scripture. He changes the entire feel of the story as the Gospels tell it. In the Scriptural account, Jesus is snatched quietly, at night, to avoid the crowds. Jesus is willing to go quietly, and keeps the disciples from fighting back. He is held while the high priest gathers his council. During it, there is some physical abuse by the guards and some taunting and one slapping of his face, but the Evangelists don't elaborate on this or draw it out. Then he is delivered to Pilate. Gibson changes the tenor of all these scenes, making them more dramatic, more violent, more frightening. He also adds scenes that contradict explicit statements in Scripture. According to John, the Jews refuse to enter the Praetorium. No Jew--not even a disciple--is depicted as present in the Praetorium. But Gibson has them there.
2 posted on 02/20/2004 1:51:22 PM PST by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: dennisw
The Lefties (and the phonycons) can't stand an authentic hero from the Old Right.

3 posted on 02/20/2004 1:57:59 PM PST by JohnGalt ("...but both sides know who the real enemy is, and, my friends, it is us.')
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To: Lurking Libertarian
I will see it for myself and make my own judgement on it.
4 posted on 02/20/2004 1:59:07 PM PST by Dog
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To: dennisw
RED FLAG ALERT

This review is associated with the now infamous blogger Bill Cork. Here is his blog

http://billcork.blogspot.com/

As you can see, he has a vendetta against the Passion and uses quite hetrodox sources to justify his own misgivings about the film.
5 posted on 02/20/2004 2:00:28 PM PST by RFT1
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To: Lurking Libertarian
One mans perceptions are not another mans. I say go see it for yourself and decide for yourself and let others do the same.
6 posted on 02/20/2004 2:00:58 PM PST by Tempest (Sigh.. ....)
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To: dennisw
Catholics are taught that Jesus "SUFFERED" and died for our sins. Mel seems to get that point across well.
7 posted on 02/20/2004 2:01:11 PM PST by tbird5
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To: Lurking Libertarian
The point here is this film will use modern film technique to make this film very bloody and realisticly so. Quentin Tarantino techniques to send it over the top. Clearly stamping it as a Hollywood production

This will accentuate emotions a lot more than the same film done 40 years ago without modern cinematic technology. Crudely put: Floggings, closeups of the nailing to the cross, scourging, crucifixion and other sufferings of Jesus can be and will be much more evocative than in older such films, than in passion plays done on stage in Europe.
8 posted on 02/20/2004 2:02:16 PM PST by dennisw ("Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass it's the American way" - Toby Keith)
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To: RFT1
infamous blogger Bill Cork.......

I know nothing about his reputation, reputation as a Catholic. I will admit I agreed with what he said, from what little I know (same as you) about the film
9 posted on 02/20/2004 2:04:31 PM PST by dennisw ("Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass it's the American way" - Toby Keith)
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To: dennisw
"I was probably the only person in the whole audience who understood large parts of the film because Aramaic is like Hewbrew and I speak Hewbrew," he said.

Hewbrew?

Beer made with an ax?

10 posted on 02/20/2004 2:04:48 PM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: dennisw
I just saved $10.00. Why bother to see it, I now know every frame.
11 posted on 02/20/2004 2:06:15 PM PST by stanz
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To: dennisw
Thank you for posting this.
If it's inappropriate for children, it's too gory for me, too.
12 posted on 02/20/2004 2:07:42 PM PST by b9
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To: dennisw
These are interesting reviews, and I appreciate your posting them. If they are right in what they say about the film, I would also be annoyed at the inaccuracies. I realize that any director is going to try to tell a story "as he sees it," but I'm one of those people who tends to become very annoyed when the movie doesn't follow the book. I don't try to live the Christian life anymore, but I used to be amazed at how little some people knew about what they claimed to believe. Often, the people who were the most "enthusiastic" for their faith were also the most ignorant. This movie would better serve Christianity if it were more accurate and less dramatic.

Well, four and a half
Bill

13 posted on 02/20/2004 2:09:31 PM PST by WFTR (Liberty isn't for cowards)
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To: dennisw
Were you this passionate defending the Gospel against the play, Corpus Christe, or say, The Last Temptation of Christ?

Gibson said it is his vision....are you ready to deny another person's vision?
14 posted on 02/20/2004 2:10:24 PM PST by OpusatFR (Kerrycrats are the Know-Nothings of the 21st Century)
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To: dennisw
> In the version I saw, after Pilate gives in to their demands the crowd shouts, gleefully, ?His blood be upon us and our children.? Pilate gives up, and says to his men, ?Do as they wish.? Rumors say Mel has taken this line out. That's good, as it was traditionally understood by Christians to extend the guilt for Deicide through history to contemporary Jews;

The author does not wish to be identified, but this little throw-away reveals the bias he approaches the movie from. I can't recall any Christian tradition that calls for collective guilt. Does not the Nicene Creed say he suffered under Pilate? Can't recall any assignment of collective guilt there. But I recall many critics of Christianity casually making the atom bomb charge the Christianity teaches there is a collective guilt.

15 posted on 02/20/2004 2:13:20 PM PST by Dialup Llama
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To: Lurking Libertarian
Don't know about that, but I do know about this:

"A Roman comes and orders them to stop: “You were ordered to punish him, not to scourge him to death.” This is but the first instance where Romans are depicted as having a conscience, or at least a limit to what they will inflict on a person."

It had nothing to do with conscience. A person who was (possibly) subject to crucifixion was NOT to be beaten to death before crucifixion; any soldier who did so took his place on the cross! In the case of Jesus, the soldiers did not know what Pilate's decision would be, therefore they dared not kill Jesus with the whip.

16 posted on 02/20/2004 2:14:43 PM PST by LS (CNN is the Amtrack of news.)
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To: dennisw
frankly, I found that two hours of Aramaic and subtitles is hard going

What, he's never seen a foreign film before?

That's pretty pitiful.

And don't even talk to me about dubbing . . .

17 posted on 02/20/2004 2:14:54 PM PST by JohnnyZ (People don't just bump into each other and have sex. This isn't Cinemax! -- Jerry)
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To: Dialup Llama
According to post #5, "now infamous blogger Bill Cork" wrote the first article
18 posted on 02/20/2004 2:15:50 PM PST by dennisw ("Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass it's the American way" - Toby Keith)
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To: LS
>It had nothing to do with conscience. A person who was (possibly) subject to crucifixion was NOT to be beaten to death before crucifixion; any soldier who did so took his place on the cross!

Bingo. The Romans even gave the crucified a mixture of wine and drugs, not because they wanted to ease their pain, but because they wanted the person to be alive to endure more pain. Also, the Gospels tell us Jesus didn't have to carry the cross all the way. Not because the Romans saw Jesus was tired and wanted to be nice guys and give him a break (the way this blogger paints it), but because they didn't want Jesus to die too soon. All this is hardly evidence of Gibson paint the Romans as nice guys and the priests as bad guys.

19 posted on 02/20/2004 2:19:23 PM PST by Dialup Llama
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To: dennisw
Immediately after the "trial," the priests take turns hitting and spitting on Jesus, and then the guards and observers join in, beating him with sadistic glee.

I hate to tell the author of this piece, but this in Scripture.

Mark 14:65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.

As far as the Jewish Priests being present at the Crucifixion and taunting Our Lords, this is true too.

Mark 15:31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 15:32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

As usual, this guy doesn't have a problem with Mel Gibson or his movie, but with Scripture. The other things-the scene on the bridge, the Priests on Donkeys-are artistic license, and certainly not inappropiate. As far as the Jews entering the Praetorium, if this is in the film, it is a historical blunder. But there was an antechamber to the Praetorium, and Jews could go there. Perhaps this is what is intended in the film, but it may not be explained correctly.

What I get from this review is the impression that it was written by someone who has a modernistic bent, and doesn't like the politically incorrect parts of the Gospel(ie, the Jewish establishment's participation in the event, Pilate's vacillation). His problem isn't with Gibson or his film, but with the divine revelation contained in the Holy Gospels and in Sacred Tradition.

20 posted on 02/20/2004 2:20:06 PM PST by Clintons a commie
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To: dennisw

Dennis, I have been on the Catholic blogs since the summer of 2002, Bill Cork started out as fairly conservative(though his support for elemnets of Liberation theology should have provided a few clues), when the first scripts of the Passion were leaked out to a comittie of Catholic "scholars", a group that included well known dissenting Call To Action Sr. Mary Boys, along with a priest who was part of the Bernadin Institute, that in itself should have set off red flags. Bill Cork himself has been involved deeply in ecumenical efforts since he became a Catholic, and sadly those ecumenical efforts has distorted his own view of the faith. Read his blog, go in the archives to see how crazed his crusade against this film has become.
21 posted on 02/20/2004 2:21:02 PM PST by RFT1
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To: dennisw
And it does exaggerate the role of the Jews. There are many examples that could be cited. Jesus is beaten to a bloody pulp by the temple guards (and thrown off a bridge) before he ever gets to Caiaphas. Jews are present in the Praetorium for the scourging of Jesus--and only Romans express concerns about the excesses inflicted by both their own guards and the Jews. There are no sympathetic figures on the via dolorosa, except for figures from Scripture and tradition, such as Simon and Veronica, who have generally been seen as people who came to believe in Jesus--Gibson inexplicably left out Jesus greeting the women of Jerusalem. Caiaphas leads the procession to Calvary on a donkey, and presides over the execution as if he were in charge.

All of these cited examples are portrayals of actions undertaken (or not) by a few individual people, and not one of them has anything to do with "the role of the Jews", whatever that means.

The only person here so far equating the actions of the individuals described above with "the role the Jews" is the author of this piece.

This movie needs to be evaluated in terms of the objective criteria provided by the US Catholic Bishops, and in the context of the history of passion plays.

It does? Personally I'll be evaluating it (or trying to anyway) based on something resembling these criteria, which I think are darned good criteria by which to judge films. I will not be told by this author how I am required to evaluate a film.

But the reaction to this film (and questioning of it) does underscore the question of how well Catholic theologians and leaders are communicating contemporary Catholic teaching on the Passion and on relations with the Jews

A small group of people raise an artificial stink over a movie (which no one would have batted an eye at otherwise) to get publicity, and this proves that Catholic leaders need to communicate better. Got it!

22 posted on 02/20/2004 2:22:59 PM PST by Dr. Frank fan
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To: dennisw
The point here is this film will use modern film technique to make this film very bloody and realisticly so..

You mean exactly like Spielberg did with "Saving Private Ryan"?

Quentin Tarantino techniques to send it over the top.

Pretty disingenous to use Tarantino as a comparative, when Spielberg's "SPR" draws a much more honest parallel. Both Spielberg and Gibson deal with historical situations and don't hesitate using painfully realistic violence to bring the gory truth to light...Tarantino OTOH, makes no qualms about producing anything more than "pulp" films.
23 posted on 02/20/2004 2:32:06 PM PST by mr.pink
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To: Lurking Libertarian
From seeing the previews, it seems to me that the beatings were depicted as much more violent than what the Bible states. I guess there will be much discussion about this after the movie comes out.
24 posted on 02/20/2004 2:33:18 PM PST by Swede Girl
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To: JohnnyZ
That's pretty pitiful.

Beyond pitiful....it's disqualifying for review of anything more challenging than Disney or TV sitcoms.
25 posted on 02/20/2004 2:35:55 PM PST by mr.pink
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To: dennisw
>In the Scriptural account, Jesus is snatched quietly, at night, to avoid the crowds. Jesus is willing to go quietly, and keeps the disciples from fighting back. He is held while the high priest gathers his council. During it, there is some physical abuse by the guards and some taunting and one slapping of his face, but the Evangelists don't elaborate on this or draw it out. ... Then he is delivered to Pilate. Gibson changes the tenor of all these scenes, making them more dramatic, more violent, more frightening.

I wish this guy would learn to read. 'Few words' does not equate with 'not much happened.'

A detachment of Roman legionnaires and temple guards all armored and carrying swords came to arrest Jesus. He then was delivered to somone who was the Hitler of that region, whose word alone could condemn someone to death. Dramatic, frightening, violent...yes. Peaceful and quiet, no.

26 posted on 02/20/2004 2:37:57 PM PST by Dialup Llama
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To: Swede Girl
From seeing the previews, it seems to me that the beatings were depicted as much more violent than what the Bible states

Not really. The Bible simply says "Jesus was scourged" or "They scourged Him" and leaves it at that. But people who read the Bible at the time of its composition knew with horror what a Roman scourging meant. They didn't need the bloody details, they were all too well aware of it from having to live with the brutality of the times in their every day life.

Modern people, on the other hand, have no clue what a scourging with a Roman flagellum(a cat-o-nine tails with wood and glass on the end of it) entailed, and have no idea what Jesus had to suffer when that scourging occurred. It was a horror, and a filmmaker is finally using all the tools of his craft to show us what Our Lord had to endure in order to obtain our Redemption.

I won't be enjoying this film when I watch it, but I hope to be moved to greater love and appreciation of Christ because of it.

27 posted on 02/20/2004 2:42:40 PM PST by Clintons a commie
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To: dennisw
I will admit I agreed with what he said, from what little I know (same as you) about the film

You agree with a film review of a movie you haven't seen? ROFLMAO!!!!

28 posted on 02/20/2004 2:46:01 PM PST by stands2reason (Liberal lurkers: stick around, you may just grow a brain.)
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To: mr.pink
Because of your screenname, I imagine your posts narrated by Steve Buscemi. :-)
29 posted on 02/20/2004 2:53:01 PM PST by stands2reason (Liberal lurkers: stick around, you may just grow a brain.)
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To: mr.pink
The point here is this film will use modern film technique to make this film very bloody and realisticly so..

You mean exactly like Spielberg did with "Saving Private Ryan"?

That film isn't doing any testifying or preaching. Is not about the life and death of a (the?) central figure in Western Civilization.

30 posted on 02/20/2004 2:55:00 PM PST by dennisw ("Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass it's the American way" - Toby Keith)
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To: stands2reason
You agree with a film review of a movie you haven't seen? ROFLMAO!!!! ....

All the time my friend, though this film falls outside my usual ability to judge Hollywood productions.

31 posted on 02/20/2004 2:56:55 PM PST by dennisw ("Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass it's the American way" - Toby Keith)
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To: dennisw
That film isn't doing any testifying or preaching.

Please state some instances where Tarantino "preaches or testifies"?....unless of course you're prepared to admit your comparative was intentionally inflamatory.

I'll not back away from my Spielberg-Gibson comparison relative to your initial shrill comment.
32 posted on 02/20/2004 3:00:47 PM PST by mr.pink
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To: OpusatFR
>Were you this passionate defending the Gospel against the play, Corpus Christe, or say, The Last Temptation of Christ?

Of course they weren't. I remember the left was all enthralled with The Last Temptation, telling us this was a good opportunity to explore the historical Jesus.

33 posted on 02/20/2004 3:01:58 PM PST by Dialup Llama
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To: dennisw
On a trip in 1990 to Oberammergau Germany, I was able to see "The Passion Play". The horror of the crucifixion (and we were about the 20th row back in a place that seats around 5,000)was quite serious and totally believeable. The stage and sets were enormous.They only do it every 10 years. I recommend that trek to anyone who believes Jesus died so that we may live. IMO The way society is going, Mel Gibson is doing a great service to the world. What makes it even better, is Mel's movie dialogue is in the Latin and Aramaic, therefore anyone that doesn't speak either one will be totally engrossed in the visuals, which is why Hollywood makes movies, right?. Jesus didn't die a painless death, and that's something certain segments of society (in general) haven't thought about for years.
34 posted on 02/20/2004 3:03:54 PM PST by Pagey (Hillary Rotten is a Smug and Holier- than- Thou Socialist)
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To: Clintons a commie
From seeing the previews, it seems to me that the beatings were depicted as much more violent than what the Bible states

Isaiah 52;13-14 prophesies of Jesus saying "Behold my servant shal deal prudently; He shal be exalted and extoled and be very high. As many as were astonished at you, his appearence was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men;

There are also prophesys saying all his bones were out of joint and that they looked and stared upon him. As Christians we were rarely told of what our sins did to the Lords body, but it was bloody.

35 posted on 02/20/2004 3:07:51 PM PST by normy (Today I did absolutely nothing......and it was everything I thought it could be.)
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To: Clintons a commie; All
I love Mel, but...

I think the problem is the direction the "historical blunders" and/or his artistic license seems to consistently take.

And does the scriptural account really need embellishing? Wouldn't a graphic depiction maintaining scriptural integrity be enough? ...in fact, more effective and credible?

Our church will be viewing it as a group, and I'll wait til afterward to draw any firm conclusions, but I am just as, if not more, bothered by the knee-jerk (not very Christ-like) defense of it as I am by the protesters...

Some Christians sure don't seem to consider (or care?) how their behavior alienates those who might otherwise be more open to the message.
36 posted on 02/20/2004 3:08:23 PM PST by Trinity_Tx
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To: dennisw
Now I get it! How could I have been so dumb?

Mel should have cast the drama as having occured somewhere other than where it actually occured in time and space.

Let's see now....perhaps if he had cast it as having occured on a space ship or other planet way into the future where Jesus and those who crusified him were aliens of some sort, then he would have been able to more credibly tell the gospel story in such a way no one would take offense.

Gee, cause the way Mel cast his movie made the gospel story such a rock of offense to some.
37 posted on 02/20/2004 3:08:25 PM PST by kimoajax
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To: RFT1
"As you can see, he has a vendetta against the Passion and uses quite hetrodox sources to justify his own misgivings about the film."

Agree. I like to think of this type of article as a "stealth" hit piece. It gets you thinking that the author is doing a reasoned, rational review, and then subtly through the text switches gears until at the end the author is really slamming Mel. All while appearing to be "impartial".

CC

38 posted on 02/20/2004 3:09:28 PM PST by Celtic Conservative (go maire tui bfhad agus rath)
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To: WFTR
So you have turned from your faith one day a christian the next not!!!!!!!! sounds like you have no faith in "The word" or it's you who doesnt who know's not what he reads. That is the biggest slap to christ. The truth is in there learn it. Jesus suffered suffered anyway Mel puts it for you and me something Im sure you could never endure.... and the truth is there for everyone to learn Mel Gibson is a soldier and is being attacked by the usual kenite scum....
39 posted on 02/20/2004 3:15:26 PM PST by repub32
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To: Trinity_Tx
>Some Christians sure don't seem to consider (or care?) how their behavior alienates those who might otherwise be more open to the message.

Christian behavior would no longer alienate many people when Christians give up most foundational doctrines of Christianity and believe like the liberal, postmodern theologians.

40 posted on 02/20/2004 3:21:03 PM PST by Dialup Llama
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To: Dialup Llama
And a foundational doctrine of Christianity is to show the Fruits of the Spirit.

One can and should live and witness the Christian faith without showing arrogance, pride, sarcasm, rushes to judgement, and the other obnoxious behaviors so rampant even between Christians. (see the religion forum)

We all slip, but when it's pointed out... the response is telling.

Anyway... Here's an interesting thread on the topic.
41 posted on 02/20/2004 3:39:25 PM PST by Trinity_Tx
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To: All
Air it in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
42 posted on 02/20/2004 3:46:27 PM PST by Chris Talk (What Earth now is, Mars once was. What Mars now is, Earth will become.)
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To: Swede Girl
Actually, what they depict in the movie is apparently not as violent as it actually was. For instance, they scourged Jesus with a cat-o-nine-tails with hooks at the end, which would tear flesh off one's body. They decided to leave that part out, because it was just to disgusting, watching a man getting scourged with bits of his flesh getting torn out.
43 posted on 02/20/2004 4:00:19 PM PST by Green Knight (Looking forward to seeing Jeb stepping over Hillary's rotting political corpse in 2008.)
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To: Dialup Llama
I agree. This is a biased review. The line is *in* the Gospels (Mark?) and is not in any way an excuse for 'collective guilt', a nonsensical view. As Gibson himself has pointed out, how can this really be anti-semetic, when Jesus himself was born in the House of David, his disciples and apostles were all Jewish, everyone but the Roman soldiers living there were Jews.

... Nevertheless, Gibson took out that line because it was one of the points used to make this out to be of concern for the 'anti-semetism' content.

Frankly, I was astounded by the reviews own anti-Catholic bias influencing his own view of it. the reviewer seems to have a 'thing' for the Catholic persepective, as if that is a big problem... well, excuse, me ... It's the same gospel and the same story!

Still, I will reserve my own full judgment until the time I see the movie. This is clearly a must-see movie.
44 posted on 02/20/2004 4:19:15 PM PST by WOSG (Bush/Cheney 2004!!)
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To: dennisw
I'll add the caveat that I have not seen The Passion but intend to do so.

I have mixed feelings--very mixed feelings about this film from what I have read on multiple sources from a myriad of POVs. What bothers me greatly is the license taken regarding the Praetorium scene. The only "Jews" by any stretch of the historical imagination that I could ever conceive of showing up would be paganized supporters of the Herods, and even that is probably unlikely given the intense nationalism and protectiveness of their cultural and religious identity like the Jews of that period (yeah, can anyone think of a group of that time with the propensity to revolt against conquerors from Syrians to Romans?). To be in that forum as a Jew would be considered a treasonist act against Self, neighbor and God.

The New Testament is clear that the execution of Jesus was a Roman decision, prompted by a collaborationist faction of the priesthood. What anti-Semites never consider in their ravings regarding the execution of Jesus is that question was settled most brutally by the Romans themselves by the destruction of the priesthood after the Revolt. "The Jews" did not kill Jesus, a couple of corrupted toadies backing the Roman government at best "advised" Pilate. They put him on trial, then handed him over to the Romans. Pilate based his decision on his own questioning of Jesus. The execution was for treason, not because Jesus ticked off the Jewish priesthood.

In the descriptions of the scourgings, who held the whip hand? Who placed the crown of thorns? Who chose nails instead of rope? Who beat Jesus on the streets to Golgotha? All the while verbally humilating Him?

Also, that city was quite "multi-cultural". The mobs represented a mixture of the ethnic and religious types that inhabited the area.

Finally, it is true a couple of Romans found it within themselves to be kind. It does not surprise me because His execution was brutal and unusual even by Roman standards.

Again, that was Pilate's decision. All his. A Roman.

The reaction to the film I hope is taken in its proper context, and that the debate remains real and sane. I certainly hope this doesn't turn into another baby on the doorstep.

Those who know that painful aspect of Jewish history understand that reference. It damn well better not happen, again.
45 posted on 02/20/2004 4:42:38 PM PST by lavrenti (I'm not bad...just misunderstood.)
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To: repub32; All
WFTR: Often, the people who were the most "enthusiastic" for their faith were also the most ignorant.

repub32: So you have turned from your faith one day a christian the next not!!!!!!!! sounds like you have no faith in "The word" or it's you who doesnt who know's not what he reads. That is the biggest slap to christ. The truth is in there learn it. Jesus suffered suffered anyway Mel puts it for you and me something Im sure you could never endure.... and the truth is there for everyone to learn Mel Gibson is a soldier and is being attacked by the usual kenite scum....

I forgot to mention that they are also some of the least coherent in many cases. Here we have a case in point. It reminds me of one of the reasons that I don't miss church.

Well, four and a half
Bill

46 posted on 02/20/2004 5:08:05 PM PST by WFTR (Liberty isn't for cowards)
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To: lavrenti
The New Testament is clear that the execution of Jesus was a Roman decision, prompted by a collaborationist faction of the priesthood. What anti-Semites never consider in their ravings regarding the execution of Jesus is that question was settled most brutally by the Romans themselves by the destruction of the priesthood after the Revolt. "The Jews" did not kill Jesus, a couple of corrupted toadies backing the Roman government at best "advised" Pilate. They put him on trial, then handed him over to the Romans. Pilate based his decision on his own questioning of Jesus. The execution was for treason, not because Jesus ticked off the Jewish priesthood.

Your are contradicted by scripture:

Luke 23:

20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.

21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified: and the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

47 posted on 02/20/2004 5:50:29 PM PST by youngjim (Time wounds all heels)
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To: dennisw
Some viewers left the theatre in tears at the end of the screening and many, including Treasurer Peter Costello and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, were visibly shaken. 

Wow.

48 posted on 02/20/2004 5:59:56 PM PST by Tribune7 (Vote Toomey April 27)
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To: WFTR; repub32
repub32 said: "Mel Gibson is a soldier and is being attacked by the usual kenite scum...."

Ahhh... "kenite scum", huh? Your use of that term clarifies (or should I say, exposes) your perspective, unfortunately.

And some people wonder why many Jews have trouble trusting "Christians"...

To WFTR: I completely agree. And the lack of coherence seems to be especially notable among followers of this particular ideology.

49 posted on 02/20/2004 6:13:45 PM PST by Trinity_Tx
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To: dennisw
Don't be so quick to say that this is a "Tarantino version" or that older films that dealt with this subject could not also be graphic.

See the IMDB listing of The Lash of The Penitentes (1937)

This film was butchered and no full version has appeared (altough the film has been available on video for over 20 years). It deals with a group of Spanish Catholics who are into flagation and crucifixtion in their religious order. Part documentary, part fiction.

Also remember the violence that the main character endures in Braveheart.

50 posted on 02/20/2004 10:42:02 PM PST by weegee (Election 2004: Re-elect President Bush... Don't feed the trolls.)
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