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The Passion of the Christ
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billrocks
Grip


Joined: 10 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
I don't think that's reason for an artist to avoid a subject--should we never make a film about Pearl Harbor, or 9/11, in order to avoid stirring up those who already hate Asians or Arabs?--but it does mean an artist has a responsibility to be cautious with the images he chooses to disseminate."

Eric


I don't think artist's should ever stifle themselves. However it is disengenuous to deny the very obvious impact that your work will have. Now how about that http://www.christ-killer.com Web site?
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beltmann
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

billrocks wrote:
I don't think artist's should ever stifle themselves. However it is disengenuous to deny the very obvious impact that your work will have. Now how about that http://www.christ-killer.com Web site?


Right. One of the reasons art matters is because it does have power.

Like NW, I thought the tee website had sound logic--subvert stereotype by overusing it into oblivion--but I'm not convinced it's anything other than ironic posturing. I kinda sensed that they were like freshmen who still get a naughty kick out of sneaking the finger past a teacher. Tee-hee.

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
if my supposition is right and Gibson is trying to admonish non-believers so that their faith may be restored, what will attract them to a religious community that Gibson depicts as nothing but hypocrites, idiots, cowards, and warmongers among a few martyrs?


Except Gibson has clearly decided to present an extremely limited view, of a specific and narrow place, of a specific and narrow time, and of a specific and narrow event. Perhaps the community on screen represents oppression or self-preservation, but I think it's a mistake to assume that anything on screen is designed to stand for any larger aspect of any religious community. If there's any lingering "theological" concept, it's that one man willingly and knowingly endured excessive brutality as an act of love and compassion; it's a Christian model for how we all can rise above the beastly behavior present on screen.

Side question: Did anyone else find the playful flashback between Jesus and Mary out of place, and nearly laughable?

Eric
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matt header
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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That scene was slightly disconcerting, but I welcomed it nonetheless.

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during The Passion I never once felt a finger wagging at me, and never felt that Gibson designed to "punish" the lapsed or the unbelieving. Instead, I'd argue that he's focusing on the physical punishment for other reasons, and it's our job to discover what they are.



It's odd: I knew while watching the film that this is essentially a story of a man sacrificing himself for the good of humanity, and that I should be touched, not repelled, by all of the violence he goes through. And yet I couldn't bring myself to be emotionally touched by all of the brutality against him. Many of the movie's defenders have said, probably accurately, that Gibson focuses on the physical punishment because it is the sacrifice that allows us to live without burden. In a ludicrous way, it's almost like optimistic gore: all of the brutality we're seeing has a reason, a purpose, it saves humanity (and you're right, we can be thankful that the violence depicted here at least is concerned with consequence and not temporary titillation). But, and this goes against everything I've just written, I still felt talked down to through most of the movie, as though the violence is not dramatic but confrontational.

Most importantly, why? It's probably obvious by now that I didn't like the movie very much, but has there been another recently that's been more indicative of one's personal opinion, tastes, and theology, and therefore one that's been more fascinating? It's definitely intriguing that some (like me) find much grandstanding and embellishment in the violence while others (like Mr. B) find poignancy and meaning. Am I, perhaps, more sensitive to questions of faith since, as far as churchgoing and adherence to the Bible goes, I have so little? (I hope not: I'm comfortable in my personal faith.) Or is it perhaps my lack of interest in this event (one of the most important tenets in Christian faith) that makes it hard for me to sympathize with the Jesus in Gibson's film, who I saw as more of a superhuman pincushion, a study in sophisticated gore? In any case, it's fascinating to ponder.

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I never sensed a call for vengeance, though. I read the earthly eruption as a sign of the moment's mighty significance--mighty because it saves, not kills--and wasn't the tormentor in hell Satan, merely at home? (Perhaps I'm forgetting a scene that you remember, though.)



I was especially appalled at the gouging out of the man's eyes by the crow, a case of apparent divine intervention that takes horror-movie delight in punishing one of Jesus' critics. I also hated how he included the scene of Satan in hell -- it certainly makes sense, but why include that unless some sort of satisfying vengeance was trying to be forced onto the movie? But the shaking of the earth doesn't really bother me (it does make sense after all).

Quote:
There's a definite context for the violence, clearly attached to thematic material. By definition it's more than snuff.


I actually agree: that's up to snuff. In the violence, we can see questions of sacrifice, guilt, redemption, and so on. It's not snuff. But it is repetitive and ceaseless to the point of disgust and, at the same time, monotony. Rick Groen said in the Toronto Globe and Mail:

The visual big top is the scourging and the crucifixion -- again and again, Gibson returns to the blood-letting. Again and again, we're exposed to the clinical repetition of a single act, until an alleged act of passion comes to seem boring and passionless. Is that not a definition of pornography?

I disagree, actually (it's not pornographic), but he has a point: there comes a time during The Passion of the Christ when it becomes difficult to keep in mind the emotional context surrounding this violence and simply be repulsed. The hammering of the nails, for example, comprises about ten minutes of the movie, and one could easily argue that we need all of it in there to fully appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made, or one could easily argue that Gibson's full-fledged violence deprives the story of some of its glorious drama.
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
It's probably obvious by now that I didn't like the movie very much, but has there been another recently that's been more indicative of one's personal opinion, tastes, and theology, and therefore one that's been more fascinating? It's definitely intriguing that some (like me) find much grandstanding and embellishment in the violence while others (like Mr. B) find poignancy and meaning.


That's precisely why I find the entire "event" fascinating. I'm much more interested in the sociological aspects of the film's release than the film itself. And for the record, I wouldn't say I found the violence "poignant;" in fact, I was rather indifferent to the violence--it is what it is, same as hundreds of other Hollywood movies that ramp up the violence. If this wasn't a "religious" movie, I'm not sure anyone would bat an eye regarding the violence. I can't comprehend how an entire culture feels OK about defending routine actioners, or films like Kill Bill--and that's a movie I love--and then hypocritically has a problem with The Passion. Are we comfortable with cartoon violence (violence that asks us to revel in it for the sake of amusement might fit the "pornography" label) but uncomfortable when confronted with violence that shakes us up (in other words, real violence and its consequences)? In terms of American culture, I would answer yes, and that's one of the subjects of the The Passion, at least in my mind.

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sharing Time: I advise the school newspaper, and one of my writers just turned in a review of The Passion. Here's an excerpt: "Have my religious beliefs been altered in any way? No. But has The Passion of the Christ made a lasting impression on my memory? Definitely... Whether the story is factual or not can be interpreted freely and depends on individual beliefs. Even overlooking all religious connotations and denotations of this film, it really makes one contemplate just how far they would go to stand up for anything they believe in."

I don't know anything about this student's religious beliefs--if they exist at all--but I was interested that a 16-year-old recognized how one of the story's themes could be transplanted beyond the realm of theology.

Eric
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matt header
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think the violence in The Passion of the Christ is inappropriate for the subject matter, nor do I think the violence in Kill Bill is inappropriate for its subject matter. Niether movie should be condemned simply based on its level of gore. Of course The Passion of the Christ should be violent - it's about crucifixion. The problem I have with Gibson's brutal treatment is that (1) to me, it seems as though he's ostentatiously sermonizing non-believers and (2) to me, it actually reduces some of the movie's dramatic impact.

Seriously, the "violence question" is one of my lesser criticisms of the movie; accusations that it is snuff (although I half-jokingly called it that before) or that it is pornography are fruitless. [/i]
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 03.10.2004 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
The problem I have with Gibson's brutal treatment is that (1) to me, it seems as though he's ostentatiously sermonizing non-believers and (2) to me, it actually reduces some of the movie's dramatic impact.


To some degree I concur. (What did we gain from the last 6 minutes of the flaying scene we didn't gather from the first 6?) A case can be made that it results in numbing the audience. I suppose whether that happens is subjective--I can say I wasn't shaken, but never bored or numbed, either. I definitely agree that the nonstop carnage reduces some of the dramatic impact, but I'd argue that it's a swap: Gibson sacrifices some drama only to gain power elsewhere; it's a trade-off worth making, if audiences are willing to notice that the movie has merits that exist beyond the boundaries of conventional drama.

Although I never sensed an overwhelming amount, I'll concede that parts of the film might qualify as sermonizing. If so, I'd also like to question whether that's inherently problematic. Often critics attach a negative connotation to that label--I'll plead guilty, too--but shouldn't we know better? Isn't that term merely descriptive? Why shouldn't some art function on that level? Why can't a sermon also qualify as great art? Is that a mode of expression that's automatically suspect, and automatically inferior?

I'm reminded of Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan minister whose fire-and-brimstone sermons rocked New England. While his words were once "mere" sermons, they are now widely studied in American literature classes everywhere, as examples of important art (particularly for his use of imagery).

Eric
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matt header
Studio Exec


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PostPosted: 03.11.2004 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're absolutely right that there's nothing inherently wrong with a movie acting like a sermon, especially since the passionate embellishment often present in a sermon is the dramatic effect Gibson strives for. But I still gleam a rather patronizing, confrontational sermon from the film, and that's still my main reason for disliking it: Gibson's lesson seems to be targeted right at the unreligious, the unfaithful, and it seems to be a punishment for their lack of belief. Many disagree with that viewpoint, but that aspect still rubs me the wrong way.
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stefanieduckwitz
Director


Joined: 07 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: 03.11.2004 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


I'm reminded of Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan minister whose fire-and-brimstone sermons rocked New England.



Tee-hee! I actually know who that is... amazing Wink
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Tooky Cat
Cinematographer


Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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Location: Madison, WI

PostPosted: 03.15.2004 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey everybody, I'm a newbie here.

Beltmann quoted my article from my school's paper regarding <i>The Passion</i> a few posts up, and I just wanted to reiterate the fact that the reason I liked this film had absolutely nothing to do with religious themes. I'm aware that Gibson is a fervently religious man, but I think he's trying to reach an audience of all beliefs, not just Christians. If you ask me, this film has as much moral value for the atheist as it does with the priest.
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