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The Passion of the Christ
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.18.2004 6:28 pm    Post subject: The Passion of the Christ Reply with quote

Controversies innumerable have been wrapping around Mel Gibson's latest project, but how do you think it will be? Will the critics receive it greatly or is it bound to be a love it or hate it film? Are you looking forward to it? How much do you think it will gain at the box-office? Do your toes itch?

Personally, as a Roman Catholic myself, I am anticipating this film with mounting expectations. The bothersome thing is that lately on RT shameless people have been posting threads about how "Jesus sucks" and whatnot. It's idiotic, really, and they just want to stir up some cheap controversy. Now that this film is getting released, I fear that Christians are going to be bashed a lot.

Apparently WABC reported that Ebert is going to give this film one star. Other critics have been saying how it's a work of art, etc, but there is bound to be another side to it.

Ah well. Discuss, share your thoughts and whatnot.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 02.18.2004 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never read the Bible and I'm somewhat indifferent to organized religion, so I'll view this the same way I viewed, say, Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments - as an epic drama. I'll be more concerned with its formal elements than its religious implications, although I doubt the accusations of prejudice and anti-Semitism that have been flung at the film have any basis in fact.

I must admit I like Gibson - he's always an engaging actor and usually an interesting director, and I like Braveheart quite a bit more than I probably should.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.18.2004 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I can understand the fears that another Passion play may potentially stir up anti-Semitism, I feel that Gibson has adequately answered that charge: He saw Schindler's List and didn't walk out hating Germans more than when he went in. In fact, I feel that Gibson's recent discussion with Diane Sawyer revealed him to be informed, aware, intelligent, and, most of all, eloquent.

Although I consider myself a person of faith--but not a member of any organized religion--I agree with Matt Header that what most interests me is the picture's formal qualities. My first concern is whether it succeeds as art, not as religious tract. If it happens to have strong evangelical power, that's merely bonus.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.18.2004 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This seems to be a movie that requires a viewer to share its assumptions in advance. In other words, unless the viewer is Christian, or at least views the figure of Christ in the same fashion as Christians, I'm not sure the film will afford any point of contact on an emotional or intellectual level, unlike, say The Last Temptation of Christ or even Dogma. I don't see how this movie could function as anything other than, as Eric put it, a religious tract.

That said, I was initially interested in Passion if only for, as Matt and Eric have pointed out, its formal qualities; specifically its use of dead languages. (I have an amateur interest in linguistics.) However, the controversy -- spurred primarily by conservative Christians and the religious right in an effort to paint the movie as persecuted by liberals -- has since soured my interest, and while I wouldn't write off the possibility of ever watching it, I probably won't catch its theatrical release.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.18.2004 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
However, the controversy -- spurred primarily by conservative Christians and the religious right in an effort to paint the movie as persecuted by liberals


I never got that sense at all--it seemed to me that the controversy has been "spurred primarily" by sensitive anti-defamation groups. But perhaps pre-conceptions (either yours, mine, or both) influenced our reactions.

Similar topic: I've been astounded by how the religious right seems to be rallying around this violent picture--isn't this the same group that, as a matter of routine, decry the levels of graphic imagery in the movies? If we can defend the violence in The Passion--on historical, narrative, realistic, or whatever grounds--then why doesn't that logic also apply to subjects that aren't biblical? In other words, how can the same people who complained about Saving Private Ryan now defend The Passion? Seems mighty hypocritical to me. And I've been having visions of shrieking fundamentalists everywhere bolting for the exits. (Or perhaps this picture, rather than lead sinners to God, will lead Christians to Nightmare on Elm Street.)

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.18.2004 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
This seems to be a movie that requires a viewer to share its assumptions in advance. In other words, unless the viewer is Christian, or at least views the figure of Christ in the same fashion as Christians, I'm not sure the film will afford any point of contact on an emotional or intellectual level, unlike, say The Last Temptation of Christ or even Dogma. I don't see how this movie could function as anything other than, as Eric put it, a religious tract.


I definitely see where you're coming from, and once we've all seen the movie your fears may indeed be confirmed. But I'm not willing to automatically assume it can only work as tract. Even non-believers ought to be able to identify with the larger themes of persecution, sacrifice, leadership, betrayal, corruption, and forgiveness. Aren't those concepts universal, regardless of religious affiliation? I'd say that the film at least has potential to work as "epic drama" for all viewers.

Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: The Passion of the Christ Reply with quote

The Third M?n wrote:


Apparently WABC reported that Ebert is going to give this film one star.


I'm not surprised. He's just sitting on his little liberal "no religion in film" bandwagon, unhappy that Mel Gibson has the balls to create something.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
It seemed to me that the controversy has been "spurred primarily" by sensitive anti-defamation groups.


Jewish leaders have expressed, and still are expressing, concern that the movie could provoke renewed anti-Semitism. Whether or not they are worrying needlessly is not for me to say, but I understand where they're coming from. In any case, as far as I've seen, these leaders have been reasonable, and stressed a need for dialogue between the two faiths as an antidote for possible violence against Jews, rather than, say, banning the picture outright.

However, I have read opinions from conservative religionists that use the "controversy" as a springboard to aim attacks at "liberal Hollywood,? side-stepping the concerns Jewish leaders cite altogether in favor of inferring that liberals and non-Christians are trying to sink the movie, much in the same way those same religionists tried to bury Last Temptation.

beltmann wrote:
I've been astounded by how the religious right seems to be rallying around this violent picture--isn't this the same group that, as a matter of routine, decry the levels of graphic imagery in the movies? If we can defend the violence in The Passion--on historical, narrative, realistic, or whatever grounds--then why doesn't that logic also apply to subjects that aren't biblical?


The operative word here is, of course, logic. Very Happy

beltmann wrote:
Even non-believers ought to be able to identify with the larger themes of persecution, sacrifice, leadership, betrayal, corruption, and forgiveness. Aren't those concepts universal, regardless of religious affiliation?


Well, I'm trying to avoid getting into a religious debate, but let's just say that while these themes are usually applied to the crucifixion story, I have serious doubts about whether they logically follow from it, especially in the context of the Bible as a whole. I am not interested in stepping on any toes here, so this is my last word on the subject.
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Last edited by the night watchman on 02.19.2004 12:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 12:35 am    Post subject: Re: The Passion of the Christ Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
The Third M?n wrote:


Apparently WABC reported that Ebert is going to give this film one star.


I'm not surprised. He's just sitting on his little liberal "no religion in film" bandwagon, unhappy that Mel Gibson has the balls to create something.


Is that a joke?
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
However, I have read opinions from conservative religionists that use the "controversy" as a springboard to aim attacks at "liberal Hollywood,? side-stepping the concerns Jewish leaders cite altogether in favor of inferring that liberals and non-Christians are trying to sink the movie, much in the same way those same religionists tried to bury Last Temptation.


Yeah, I've encountered that thinking as well; I just meant that I didn't see that as being the prime impetus for the controversy. I suppose we could say, though, that two completely separate controversies are concurrently raging. As for the hypocrisy regarding Last Temptation, I agree entirely. If they had actually watched the movie, they would have seen that Scorsese shares their devotion. (Which raises Danny's comment regarding Ebert: How can we say he's opposed to religion in cinema when he awarded Last Temptation four stars? I don't recall him ever expressing contempt for religion in his reviews. I'm stumped by that one.)

the night watchman wrote:
beltmann wrote:
Even non-believers ought to be able to identify with the larger themes of persecution, sacrifice, leadership, betrayal, corruption, and forgiveness. Aren't those concepts universal, regardless of religious affiliation?


Well, I'm trying to avoid getting into a religious debate, but let's just say that while these themes are usually applied to the crucifixion story, I have serious doubts about whether they logically follow from it, especially in the context of the Bible as a whole. I am not interested in stepping on any toes here, so this is my last word on the subject.


I guess I just meant that even if a viewer doesn't believe in the Gospels, or doesn't even believe that Christ existed, the film as a self-contained dramatic story (perhaps fictional) may still provide a point of contact for them, whether in terms of the themes I listed, or some other possible entry point. I think of Kundun, which doesn't reflect my beliefs but still contains themes that I can relate to.

Eric
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mfritschel
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beltman Wrote:

I guess I just meant that even if a viewer doesn't believe in the Gospels, or doesn't even believe that Christ existed, the film as a self-contained dramatic story (perhaps fictional) may still provide a point of contact for them, whether in terms of the themes I listed, or some other possible entry point. I think of Kundun, which doesn't reflect my beliefs but still contains themes that I can relate to.

Exactly what I was thinking. Without making this a huge religous debate, which is kind of like walking on egg shells. One needs no formal introduction or belief in a certain thing to perceive if it is a quality work of art or not. I never knew the Mona Lisa or who she was, but I believe that it is a very good painting.

I think in order to truly appreciate the movie for what it is, or take it for what it did not achieve, one really needs to set aside their personal beliefs and opinions and try to take a non biased look at it. Although, this is purely ideological and can never really happen one can certainly try. One cannot approach a movie and say I hate it, simply because it does not follow their systems of beliefs. Albeit all of us walk into movies with preconcieved notions of what movies can and cannot achieve, we must constantly being trying to apply this nonbiased and more educated approaches, otherwise what is really the point. If one is not willing to study and critically think about the work they are watching, and try to decipher the movie, novel, or whatever it may be, What is really the point of watching or reading it? Isn't the point of humanities and there study to help us learn something about themselves.

Finally, the only people drawing a fuss about this movie are those who are not really willing to seperate themselves from their beliefs ans step back and analyse things, and are counting on humans to not be able to rationally think and analyze things, but who can blaim them. Likewise, I can watch Birth of a Nation and immediately recogize its deeply segrated and racist undertones, and yet it will not sway me, because I am able to realize the how false and inncorrect these notions are.

PS: my whole chain of thought desconstructs on itself, but i really dont care.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mfritschel wrote:
I think in order to truly appreciate the movie for what it is, or take it for what it did not achieve, one really needs to set aside their personal beliefs and opinions and try to take a non biased look at it.


I agree, with the proviso that the work in question offers something new or takes a novel approach. Scorsese's Last Temptation wrestles with the idea of Jesus being simultaneously mortal and divine. Smith's Dogma explores the difference between belief and religiosity. Gibson's picture, on the other hand, by his own admission, is not meant to cover any new ground, and the ground it does cover I've already been across.

mfritschel wrote:
Finally, the only people drawing a fuss about this movie are those who are not really willing to seperate themselves from their beliefs ans step back and analyse things, and are counting on humans to not be able to rationally think and analyze things [...]


I have to disagree with you there.

beltmann wrote:
Which raises Danny's comment regarding Ebert: How can we say he's opposed to religion in cinema when he awarded Last Temptation four stars? I don't recall him ever expressing contempt for religion in his reviews. I'm stumped by that one.


I have to assume he was being sardonic.
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 9:55 am    Post subject: Re: The Passion of the Christ Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:


Is that a joke?


No, it's true, even though he hasn't actually published his review [so far, at least].
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:


Although I consider myself a person of faith--but not a member of any organized religion--I agree with Matt Header that what most interests me is the picture's formal qualities. My first concern is whether it succeeds as art, not as religious tract. If it happens to have strong evangelical power, that's merely bonus.

Eric


Same here. I was actually more interested in the clay wonders that they had done in The Miracle Maker [who's seen it?] than in the religious teachings that it gave.

Still, whoever says that when viewing this film, Christians must forget about their religion, is completely and utterly wrong; just like Star Wars fanboys won't leave their intergalactic geekiness behing when watching Episode III, why should a Christians forget about his/her Christianity when viewing The Passion of the Christ? It is clear that they'll most likely expect to like the film, but so what?
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The Third M?n
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PostPosted: 02.19.2004 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:


I have to assume he was being sardonic.


I assume he wasn't. Ebert probably loves Scorsese more than Gibson, I suppose.
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