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The Passion of the Christmovie


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#1 dido

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Posted 05 March 2004 - 06:32 PM

I hope to keep this uninflamitory and polite.

Moderators, please remove this post if you feel that it is inappropriate in any way.

That said, I am very interested in Gibson's stated claims that he is "reproducing the Gospels" and the critical response. Frankly, I have not and do not want to see the movie because of certain aspects which have come out in the reviewing.
Personally, as a classics Ph.d student I wonder why the whole movie is in Latin and Aramaic, as opposed to Greek and Aramaic (which is much more likely).

This casts doubt on the whole project (as I understand it) speaking fron a simply historical perspective.

I wonder what those of us who have been (or not been) have to say about the presentation, the message and and the impact of this (dare I say) world changing movie?

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 05 March 2004 - 07:18 PM

I wondered about the lack of koine in the movie, too. It seemed to me that in public pronouncements, Ponty would be doing it in the language of commerce of the day and place, while any conversations he had with his subordinates or Mrs. P. would have been in some Latin or other, although certainly not that of St. Jerome and the Vulgate. Jesus would have been preaching in a language that would have guaranteed Him the broadest possible audience, but we didn't see much of that phase of His ministry.

As Gibson has pointed out, it's a meditation on the Passion, and he doesn't get everything right. It does not "reproduce the Gospels", and adds some subtextual things that the screenwriter felt, but is never stated in Christian scripture.

I believe that it also is highly dependent on the familiarity of the viewer with the rest of the story. The portrayal of Pontius Pilate has been dragged over the coals by some critics, stating that his procurature was "particularly violent", but they don't seem to be borne out by people writing closer to the era, like Suetonius, who liked nothing better than a good piece of gossip to write down as history! Pilate seems to have been just another one of the Imperial service who got moved around by Tiberius in the last year of his life, when he was especially cranky. Some evidence suggests he went to Lugdunum, and there the thread on him ends, except for very unreliable rumor. If anything, Pilate's administration was informed by a "bread and circuses" policy, and he WAS expensive!

Likewise, watchers unfamiliar with the subsequent parts of the Bible, "Acts of the Apostles" in particular, might think that the story does live up to its reputation for anti-Semitism. Passages in "Acts" act against this theory, but they aren't a part of this film.

Gibson's comment that he might make a few more movies on Biblical plots is a good one. ("There are a lot of good stories in there!) At least he seems to want to read more of the book than he's presented here. Maybe his point of view will mature with time. What he's got here is very close to an adolescent slasher movie.

#3 Clara 76

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 08:18 PM

I haven't seen the movie so I will not comment on it but I did see the box office revenues-it seems his "controversy" paid off.
Clara

#4 pj

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 10:02 PM

I just returned from seeing the movie -- I preferred the book :wink:

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 03:54 PM

Actually, one of the problems the film has is that the screenplay is not directly from the Book. The secondary source which informs this drama is The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ by (Sr.) Anne Catherine Emmerich, which makes use of extraBiblical sources usually by seventeenth-through-nineteenth-century mystics and hagiographers.

#6 dido

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 05:13 PM

I guess I'm going to have to go see it.

What is really interesting me is Gibson's insistence on the "literal re-telling" aspect, and what so many critics have pointed out as the flaws/self-contradiction/ruder-synonyms in that approach.

Pilate is an interesting case; he forms such a focus in later tradition. I think Tacitus (more reliable than Suetonius at any rate) just records that Tiberius reprimanded him for his intollerance. My favorite portrait of Pilate is in Bulgakov's Master and Margarita.

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 March 2004 - 06:48 PM

Right; tradition is a good word for it. There's a lot of folklore sprung up about this contradictory figure, but he seems to have been no worse than most of his contemporaries and better than a lot of them. He was recalled by Tiberius in 36 CE and Tacitus does say over intolerance. I think it somewhat ironic that Tiberius, then in the last year of his life and growing more hostile/aggressive every day, should trouble anyone over intolerance! :D Cassius Dio has a brief account of the reorganization of the Imperial Governors about this time, and although I don't think he's named, it's easy to see how Pilate fit into the pattern.

#8 dirac

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 11:35 AM

I haven't seen the movie, but it doesn't necessarily sound less accurate than the Biblical "spectaculars" with which Hollywood used to favor us a few decades ago. (On the other hand, Gibson has invited that kind of criticism with his insistence that his movie gets everything right, and those movies weren't aspiring to the brand of seriousness Gibson is claiming here.)

I've spoken with people who liked the film, and they say they found it sincerely moving and the violence not slasher-ish, at all. As for the box office many people predicted the movie would open big, drawing in the curious and then fading quickly, but this is clearly no flash-in-the-pan audience. Like "The Passion" or not, it has clearly struck a chord, and I think Hollywood is going to have to take notice.

Note: as Board Hall Monitor, I will be keeping a close eye on this thread for any posts that venture out of the realm of civilized discussion. This is a movie that's excited more than one kind of "Passion," and while there's no way to talk about this film without acknowledging that, we need to keep things polite and respect the views of others. Thanks for your understanding. :D

#9 dirac

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 02:55 PM

I should have added that I didn't intend my previous post for anyone who's already posted to this topic -- just trying to head any trouble off at the pass. :(

#10 Calliope

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 03:19 PM

I finally saw it this weekend (so I suppose my $10 contributed to the $50M it made this weekend alone)

I felt pressured to see it on the big screen and wish I hadn't. I'm not a horror film fan, not even the ridiculous Scream films, but this felt more Freddy Kruger than anything else.

I was struck by how much I've learned from reading about the controversy and lack of "factual" in the film.

Then again, this is a Hollywood film. Jesus is still portrayed as in the Da Vinci paintings, except I did read they changed Jim C's eyes digitally from blue to brown.

I don't feel it was as controversial as it has been made and I can't help but wonder if some of the controversy was simply PR machinery.

But it was an extremely violent film spending far too much time on the horror of the death as opposed to the meaning of the death.

#11 Ed Waffle

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Posted 08 March 2004 - 11:01 PM

The current New Yorker has a very funny Back Page by Steve Martin, Studio Script Notes on "The Passion".

Very little of it addresses the controversy of its content.

In one note the studio exec thinks that Jesus should turn water into wine at the Last Supper--it would be a great trailer moment and would brighten up the scene.

Another is "I'm assuming 'The dialogue is in Aramaic' is a typo for "American." :grinning:

#12 dido

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Posted 09 March 2004 - 06:05 AM

I finally figured out what my "great puzzle" with this movie is.

If it is supposed to be merely a historically accurate recreation of the events of the Gospels, then why is a main source those mystical visions?

If it is supposed to be a recreation of the Gospels, well, why isn't it?

Or is it some third thing that I don't know about?

I guess I just don't understand the basis of the film. I'm not sure I want to go contribute my $10 to it's success either. I wish there were a way to see things like this without inadvertantly expressing one's financial support, at least not until it's over.

#13 dirac

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Posted 09 March 2004 - 09:47 AM

dido, there have been many, MANY articles on the subject, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding the information you need.

As a general comment, most movies depart from the historical record in some respects -- some more than others. I actually think that contemporary movies are held to a much higher standard in this respect than they were in the past.

#14 MJ

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Posted 20 April 2004 - 01:02 PM

I saw the film a few weeks ago and was moved by the beauty of the cinematography. A film about Crucifiction is going to be violent. Using the vernacular instead of english gave it a historical perspective.
Mel had to take 4 versions (Matt, Mark, Luke, and John) of TPOTC and combine them into one story.
I was really perterbed by those who claimed anti-semitism before the movie was released and before those complainers actually saw the movie. I'm a very big fan of letting time be the judge of great art.
Crying wolf in the name of bigotry dampens your cause.
CB DeMille's Masterpeice, the 10 commandments, took liberties with historical fact, but it is a beutiful film showcasing cinematography.
Mel will become a billionaire over this movie, he owns it 100%, used his own film company to produce it.

The big question on my lips is, will it be nominated for any Oscars? It might be nominated for best original score, since Mel had little to do with that.

Mike

#15 Funny Face

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Posted 21 April 2004 - 07:27 AM

I saw the film on "Ash Wednesday," and overall thought it was quite well done. As to any controversy, most of that appears to stem from ignorance or spite. It's a 'cool' thing for a hip urban journalist to use 'brilliantly' sarcastic turns of phrase such as "the high cheek-boned Jim Caveziel." Now there's a worthy way to make a living.

And don't think that a lot of the negativity doesn't come from major moguls who now wish they'd invested their mercenary interests in the film.

The one flaw I did find with the film, and am quite surprised to not hear mentioned anywhere is the use of the special effects in certain portions that I found very distracting. Mainly, the faces of the children who were taunting Judas becoming Satanic, and even worse, that adult midget that Satan was carrying during the scourging. If the film were to be completely authentic, those additions should have been, in my opinion, eliminated. They were a cross between avant garde art film and horror film, and quite distracting during scenes that clearly held their own without them.


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