Skip to comments.
Will The Passion Movie Have Political As Well As Spiritual Consequences?
| John Fields
Posted on 02/20/2004 9:30:22 AM PST by jonboy
Several months back we began hearing the drumbeat of disapproval from the media and Hollywood elites about Mel Gibson's soon to be released The Passion of the Christ. He had a TERRIBLE time finding a distributor, he had to self-finance the movie, his original title, simply, The Passion was denied him because Miramax declared that they had the rights to that title. He was told that the movie would be a flop and that religious movies don't make money. As support for this claim, they mentioned the terrible controversy surrounding another Jesus movie, The Last Temptation of Christ. More than twenty-five thousand people protested against it, death threats were supposedly received, and to top it off, it only took in a little more than eight million dollars. Of course, it couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that it was an anti-religious allegorical interpretation of a Christ who was weak, implied gay, and was shown on the cross fantasizing about having sex with Mary Magdalene. The Judas character also being depicted as a sympathetic character.
It was an absolutely blasphemous hateful hit piece. The Devil himself couldn't have written a worse script. Yet, the Hollywood elites had no problem with this movie, the Anti-defamation League had no problem with this movie, the leftist elites had no problem with this movie. This movie was them personified, holding to a form of Jesus (if at all) that humanized Him and made Him one of the sinners rather than showing a Jesus who would hold them accountable and culpable for sin.
The usual characters couldn't say enough good things about this piece of trash. It was gutsy, it was artsy, it was inspiring, yada, yada, yada. The actors also were the usual liberal elites, Harvey Keitel, William Dafoe, Barbara Hershey, and David Bowie among others. Despite the fact that the movie earned a miserable eight million dollars, Martin Scorcese was nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. Barbara Hershey was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Peter Gabriel for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes. How many people are holding their breath about The Passion of the Christ winning critical acclaim from this group?
Obviously Hollywood and their ilk don't get it. I've never seen a phenomenon like is occurring with this movie. The forces of evil are arrayed against it in spectacular fashion, hoping to stop it from making its way to the screen. When the predictions of failure didn't work then came the efforts at intimidation. Hit pieces from the New York Times became a regular thing, claims from all sides about anti-Semitism abounded (many to most from people who had never seen the movie), Mel Gibson's father was suddenly of interest (why, he didn't make the movie), people who never batted an eye about Hollywood violence before were now suddenly "concerned" about the effects of this "violent movie" upon our children. The hypocrisy and double standards have been staggering and extremely transparent. All we need to remember is this. This is us against them. No I don't mean us against the Jews. We are obviously ALL culpable in His death. He died for the combined sins of every person. I put Him there, you Him there, we all did. Real Christians understand this. Many Jews understand this as well. The movie has gotten very favorable reviews from a number of prominent Jewish people. Notably, they are almost all of a conservative ilk.
This movie is being challenged because of its attempted faithfulness to the script and because it is now perceived that it will be widely seen. It has been very faithful to the Gospels. THAT IS THE PROBLEM! The detractors including many liberal, politically correct and noodle spined "theologians" claim that the movie didn't happen according to what Mel has said. Let me state the obvious, IF THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST IS ANTI-SEMITIC THE GOSPELS ARE AS WELL. This is an attack on a literal rather than liberal interpretation of the Bible, it is an attack on Christians who are walking the walk and talking the talk. It isn't Judeaism vs. Christianity nearly so much as it is Liberalism vs. Christianity. These things are risky to the ones doing the attacking.
Can you feel the tension in the air? It's a good tension, a polarizing tension. It will help more clearly define the left and the right, the evil and the good for what they are. Are the left aware? Some are. The Tsunami is quickly building and is approaching. I feel certain that the Christian community is more stoked to see this movie than any in my memory. People LONG for a spiritual experience, they long to see what the suffering Christ did for them, even as they are frightened of what they will see. People who have screened it have sat in mute, stunned silence after the movie or are sobbing out loud.
The screens, which were initially going to be on the short side of 2,000, are now going to be as many as 4,000 (which would be a record for ANY film let alone an independent one). This movie, I believe will set the all time record for box-office take. The current one day total for sales is just under $44 million, weekend is just under $115 million (both the Spiderman movie). The all time record is Titanic, with just under $601 million dollars total at the box office.
Poor Mel, his detractors said, he'll be out so much money, between $25-$50 million by the time you count distribution costs. I predict that once the dust settles Mel will be a billionaire from this venture. Not only will this movie be seen by Christians, but detractors and curiosity seekers will see it as well. Plus the HUGE Catholic audience worldwide will want to see it. Also consider how many people will be seeing this movie multiple times to send a message. We haven't even looked at DVDs and videos which will be purchased later for evangelism tools and for personal collections. I wouldn't think of not owning this movie. Also consider the other merchandising.
I expect, at least initially, for the left to try to explain away Mel and The Passion's success and to make excuses for why they've done so well. Eventually, I think dissent will start to melt in the same way that it was stifled after 911. People will not want to be seen to be against this movie, I expect the media to start asking people what they think about the movie. The movie will become the story for a long time. I believe it will define our times culturally. Hollywood, who has until now despised this movie, will be under HUGE pressure to critically recognize this movie, yet would be forced to be going against everything it holds dear in order to do so. Hollywood loves their liberal agenda, but they love our dollars even more.
And what will happen politically for the candidates for various offices? The candidates will be asked "Have you seen the movie?" and "What did you think about the movie?" I expect our side to do well with this. Our President will have seen and will have embraced the movie. At the same time I expect the Democratic candidates to stumble on this as they attempt to both embrace the movie and distance themselves from it at the same time. The left is anti to only marginally religious while the independents and conservatives are MUCH MORE SO. I see one side benefiting from this, our side. Whereas a massive patriotic fervor swept our country after 911, I expect this phenomenon will be an unparalleled religious fervor. Just as 911 changed the world for a significant period of time and silenced the left, I believe there will be a post Passion period that very well may last until the election in which the left is effectively silenced, offering only grudging praise, as though through a mouth squeezed tight from lemons. The problem is though, they can't afford to be silenced. At the same time, moderate to conservative voters will be energized for a candidate by something far deeper than just politics. Although I think this film is MUCH BIGGER than politics, I think it will very much define this election. And again, that can only help one side, ours.
TOPICS: Current Events
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, 61-80, 81-89 next last
This movie, I believe will set the all time record for box-office take.
No way. I hope it does well, but it's not going to top Titanic, or Lord of the Rings or even those American Pie movies, IMO.
While I agree there is a double standard in the reception of Gibson's film as opposed to Scorsese's, remember that it's been a rather long time now since The Last Temptation of Christ was released. Also, I don't think the basic temptation premise was all that objectionable in Scorsese's film (since Christ does reject the temptation and dies on the cross). It was the other stuff, like Jesus making and carrying crosses for the Romans, and saying stuff like "I'm the prince of blasphemy", etc that was annoying to me. However, the crucifixion was quite well done, particularly the Via Dolorosa (in the style of a Hyeronomous Bosch painting with spooky music in the background).
Two things bother me about the Gibson film. 1.) The language thing. I see no point in the gimmicky use of languages. 2.) The point of the story. Will the movie relate Christ's death to salvation, or will it merely be a document as to the brutality of crucifixion as a form of punishment?
I will be seeing it in ay case.
I have that book! There's a Catholic edition of the book printed by TAN Books. It's really good.
posted on 02/20/2004 11:36:18 AM PST
("We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid" - Benjamin Franklin)
As I said in the article, the political considerations and impact of the movie are certainly secondary to the societal implications. I would respectfully suggest that the political implications become more important, although certainly not up there with the spiritual impact. Think of all of the spiritual causes that have been set back and maligned because of politics? Abortion, homosexuality, taking the Ten Commandments down, lack of prayer in school, the proposal to take In God We Trust off of our money and One Nation Under God out of our pledge, and other things like these have entered into the political realm from the spiritual. What will out of control politicians and bureaucrats take away next. While God should always come first, having political blinders on (which I'm not suggesting you do) can cause us to fall into a spiritual ditch.
posted on 02/20/2004 11:36:30 AM PST
1.) The language thing. I see no point in the gimmicky use of languages.
Gimmicky? LOL... it was one of the riskiest aspects of Gibson's vision, and it's historical, and I commend him for it. I, for one, am definitely tired of "hearing" Jesus speak with an English accent.
posted on 02/20/2004 11:39:39 AM PST
("And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God..." ~Romans 8:28a~)
Yes, but it is written in English, and translated to these languages, which are spoken by English-speaking actors not even fluent in them. Remember that Gibson did not even want to use subtitles originally. I believe Gibson is probably making some sort of "statement" about how he preferred the mass in latin. If he had left out the subtitles, I would avoid the film for that reason alone.
I'm also quite glad that He did that (except for having to read the sub-titles). I think it will bring a lot more realism into it.
posted on 02/20/2004 11:45:27 AM PST
Given the number of screens this is going to be on it will definitely be a top 10 (which means beating American Pie) grossling film, probably top 5 (which means beating any single installment of LOTR), and could be #1. There's HUGE prospective audience for this movie, by some counts theres around 150 million Christians in this country if half of them see the movie once (no multi-viewings, no non-Christians in attendance) it'll tie Titanic. If only a third go (same conditions) it's wedge inbetween ET and Star Wars for the number 3 spot.
I don't think the language thing is gimicky at all. The movie is in the same languages the Bible was originally written in, I wouldn't have a problem with somebody doing the Iliad in Latin (actually I think it would be cool), any fan of opera knows you've got a lot more things telling a story than the words and there's nothing wrong with telling the story in a language the audience doesn't know. I'd rather it wasn't subtitled actually, subtitles draw the eye and brain away from the images rhythm and inflection which are really the part that tells a story.
From what I've seen the message of the movie very much is "this is what Christ went through for your salvation".
posted on 02/20/2004 11:47:31 AM PST
(but this one has 11)
The thing that is the real "story" here is the fact that a movie about Christ's crucifixion is "controversial" at all. The Last Temptation, Corpus Christi, et al deserve controversy because they took a controversial approach from the get-go. Someone mentioned on another thread that King of Kings and The Greatest Story Ever Told did not cause such a ruckus back in the 60's. Sadly, they would today.
I see nothing wrong with it being controversial, religion IS a controversial subject that's why you're not supposed to discuss it among friends. But what those against it are objecting to is absolutely hilarious. The fact that so many people are so aghast that anyone would make a pro-religion movie is funny (at least from where I sit), the other side has crossed the line from controversial to horrified in a way that should embarass them.
posted on 02/20/2004 12:02:13 PM PST
(but this one has 11)
"I'm fascinated by the obvious spiritual dynamic at work here."
I am too Anna, and I'm anxious to see what will happen in the next few weeks.
The audience for this movie will be made up, in large part, by the ultra-conservative denominations, some of which consider movies a form of sin. It would only barely surprise me to find horse-drawn buggies parked in front of the theater.
posted on 02/20/2004 1:43:37 PM PST
("All governments and all civilizations fall... eventually. Our government is not immune.)
Iliad in Latin
I'd rather see the Illiad (and the Odyssey) in Greek, than in Latin. Maybe that's just me...
posted on 02/20/2004 1:53:03 PM PST
(Chief Engineer, Tomas de Torquemada Gentlemens' Club)
What Hollywood elites have been voicing a drumbeat of disapproval over this film? I haven't seen anyone from Hollywood even mention it except Mel Gibson.
posted on 02/20/2004 1:58:10 PM PST
Wow how incredibly insulting of the devout Christians of the world.
posted on 02/20/2004 2:13:32 PM PST
(but this one has 11)
Damn, I knew I was getting that one wrong but I just couldn't navigate it to right. Oh well, there's always someone on FR that knows better.
posted on 02/20/2004 2:15:06 PM PST
(but this one has 11)
The movie will have a 40 million dollar opening weekend , than go on to make about 150 million in domestic release. Sorry, I would like more, but unless a movie gets REPEAT business from the 16-25 crowd it will not do huge box office. This is a very violent movie, people will not want to go through it a second time.
There will be incidents, graffiti and destruction at synagogues, etc NOT done by the people who saw the movie but by those secretive losers who need to get a thrill being part of the news. Muslim extremists will try to use to the film to harm Jews and smear Christians.
There will be a major change FOR THE BETTER in the relationship of Jews and Christians throughout the world now that this has all out in the open. I really believe this.
Poor Mel Gibson, now a serious respected profitable director he will have to make more serious respectable profitable films to satisfy his fans. Lethal Weapon 5 is no longer an option for him.
Abe Foxman will try to prevent it, but The ADL will go the way of the NAACP and ACLU, periphery players in the political landscape, not taken too seriously anymore.
it, death threats were supposedly received, and to top it off, it only took in a little more than eight million dollars. Of course, it couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that it was an anti-religious allegorical interpretation of a Christ who was weak, implied gay
I'm not defending LAST TEMPTATION, which is loaded with theological and historical inaccuracies(but they were "ok" because it was Marty's vision/sarcasm off), but Jesus is definitely not gay in the film, implied or otherwise.
Nice piece, jonboy!
I had the honor of seeing a pre-release screening of "The Passion" back in January. Wow! Very well done with great use of flashbacks of Jesus' ministry and readily apparent spiritual warfare throughout. Christians won't notice the subtitles because they already know the story, but it maybe a bit tiresome for those that don't. The end left me wanting unless, of course, Mel is planning a sequel (let's say "Resurrection of The Christ"). There were a couple Jewish Christians in the audience who found some fault, but as someone else said in the post-movie discussion, "The truth is the truth."
posted on 02/20/2004 3:10:58 PM PST
(After all these years, it's still rocket science.)
It's just a movie.
Remember Last Temptation of Christ? I thought it was a pretty good flick the first time I saw it, but when I watched it with my kids 12 years later I was appalled at how boring it was. I was shocked at how dull the process of watching that turd of a movie was. Remember when it first came out? You would think that the world was ending and Jesus Christ himself had returned to judge the good and the wicked. 12 years later the whole thing is forgotten and any jackass like me can stroll into a Blockbuster and rent it off a shelf.
Passion of Christ? Probably it's interesting because of the blood. That's all I keep hearing about, and that's the only thing Gibson has ever been able to make. If it's about the blood, then it's going to be dull.
Tell the story about Jesus. Tell how he suffered. But don't pretend that Gibson is able to deliver to us real-life violence. Don't let some movie maker tell us that this is "really what happened". These guys have higher opinions of themselves than Jesus Christ had of himself. After he went back to heaven that is.
I'm going to be right there with the rest of the moviegoing public, munching on my popcorn while Jesus is up there on the cross. Don't for a second let any of these ridiculous reviews imply that any movie can deliver into our homes the violence or the "passion" of such an event. This movie will be just like any other. It will live with me for about 5 weeks and when I'm watching it with my grandkids 12 years from now I'll lie on the floor and beg to be run over because it is so boring, stupid and dull.
And don't get me started on Gibson's old man. Mel should do the whole world a favor and run that guy over with his car.
OK I've said enough. Please don't let this thing get blown out of proportion.
To: Clintons a commie
Then what, BI? Unless they edited the part out of the script which said so I KNOW that the offending section of the movie had Jesus kissing EITHER John or Judas on the mouth. I acknowledge that it could have been edited out due to HEAVY criticism from mainstream Christians (probably in the DVD though). But it was there at one point.
posted on 02/20/2004 3:52:58 PM PST
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, 61-80, 81-89 next last
Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual
posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its
management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the
exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson