Mel Gibson's The Passion

MusicMan
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And that's what makes horse races.

son_of_a_gunn, the unfortunate "Jews killed Jesus" nonsense has been a sorry excuse for ignorant and fearful Christian minds throughout history to demonize and scapegoat the Jewish OTHER.
Updated On: 3/4/04 at 03:02 PM
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What I don't understand about this film is, if a graphic visual account of the torture and crucifiction wasn't necessary for 2000 years, why is it necessary now?

It's like the violent overload in most films now. I had no problem with the old back-and-white movies. The detective points the gun at the bad guy. The gun goes "BANG!". The bad guy falls down and doesn't get up. I GOT IT. If someone runs to the bathroom and there is a retching sound, I KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING. I don't want or need to see the actual contents of their stomach flying from their mouths. How could it possibly be necessary?
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re: the passion#128
Posted: 3/4/04 at 8:16pm
Frank Rich's column this Sunday in the Arts & Leisure delivers the coup de grace on The Passion of the Christ and Gibson's hypocrisy.

I also can't believe I would read a justification on the boards of the writings of a virulent anti-Semite like Emmerich. The presence of this film has certainly been an eye-opener about the world around me...
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Mister Matt, it isn't necessary, you're right. But to explain it, I think that once they run out of ideas, they have to take things a step further. Then further again. So, as you said in the days of b&w, "less was more". We didn't need to see everything. We used our imagination. Now it seems everyone has to show us a little more than the last one. Now there is absolutely nothing left to the imagination. I for one appreciated the less is more style.
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Updated On: 3/4/04 at 08:19 PM
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Uh, Mister Matt and Jane2, have you ever walked through a comprehensive, world-class museum like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and taken a look-see at medieval, Gothic and Renaissance art? To your left, witness the Fra Angelico crucifixion which has Christ spurting blood from all his wounds. On your right is a fresco by Canavesio, The Crowning of Thorns, which portrays the exact moment two bestial torturers spit contemptuously into the face of Christ. Walking a little further, let's stop and meditate on the writhing, tormented Christ of Van Dyck's crucifixion.
But why stop at scenes of the Passion? Consider the fresco of the dismembered head of St. John the Baptist by the school of Giovanetti, the bloody Slaying of Holofernes by Judith as depicted by Caravaggio, the terrifying agony of the Last Judgment by Michelangelo in which St. Bartholomew displays his flayed skin upon which is represented the painter's face, Bosch's vision of hell, with every conceivable torture conveyed with the painter's obvious delight or any one of numerous representations of St. Sebastian? Are all these artists without ideas or imagination?
The graphic representation of violence in religious art has been a constant as long as men have had the ability and need to express themselves and reconcile themselves to the monstrous realities of existence and the mysteries of death. Artists' representations of life, suffering, sacrifice, death and rebirth, in whatever medium, not only reenact natural and human experience but also serve as a model for the spiritual life as well. I can't think of anything MORE necessary.
Updated On: 3/4/04 at 11:12 PM
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Uh, music man, where do I start? UH, first-no need to try to lecture me on art. I have my MA in it, and taught it for 25 years. Uh, secondly, what was that sound? that was my post going right over your head.
<-----I'M TOTES ROLLING MY EYES
MusicMan
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Hardly. Your post was a general observation about contemporary films. But since it was, by extension, in agreement with MisterMatt's comments about Gibson's Passion, you'll forgive my pointing out to you that there are precedents. But can you blame me? With your nose so high up in the air, it's hard to get your attention down here.

'Nuff said.
Updated On: 3/4/04 at 11:47 PM
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When you start a post with "uh", it's generally inferred to be less than friendly, to say the least, in the world of message boards. Then followed with your pontificating about the Met, and sounding quite like you copied the descriptions from a tour pamphlet and if you didn't, you nevertheless came off quite pompous in your lecture. Then you complained about MY tone? Don't give it if you can't take it.

That said, I'd like to address your point. You failed to mention that countless other paintings as well as sculptures from all periods of art portray religious events without the gore, blood, and violence present in the pieces you described. It's art-it's subjective. Just as painters and sculptors have their own styles, so do artists in the film industry. There is the blatant gore, blood and violence, and then there's the hint of it.

I believe Matt and I simply stated we preferred the "less is more" approach.

Edited to say that I really don't enjoy this kind of meanness in posting on boards, but I felt pushed to it by your post. It sounded patronizing to me.
<-----I'M TOTES ROLLING MY EYES
Updated On: 3/5/04 at 12:12 AM
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Besides all this debate...what it comes down to...is The Passion is a poorly made film. Everything goes over the top, from the violence and gore...to much of the acting. I mean those Roman guards were almost cartoon like at times. The scene with King Herod was handled with more grace in Jesus Christ Superstar. And (as I said before) Mel seems to only have one cinematic trick up his sleeve...slow mo. It's almost like he just discovered it and wanted to use it as much as possible. Let's see coins fly through the air to Judas (in slow mo) let's see Jesus fall to the left (in slow mo) now lets see Jesus fall to the right (in slow mo). But worst of all, the relentless violence never lets the viewer (at least this one) stop and FEEL anything. Just read the Time Out New York review and I have to agree when the reviewer says "Gibson's doggedly faithful, scrupulously brutal approach inspires little more than the recurring thought, Ouch, that's gotta smart."
It makes me think of a film like Schlinder's list, where atrocities are shown...but not shoved down your throat for two plus hours. There are quiet moments that let you sit and reflect of the enormity of what is happening. One moment that did touch me in The Passion is when Mary sees a beaten Jesus carrying the cross and has a flashback to when he fell as a child. It was in that fleeting, quiet moment that I thought of the powerful movie that could have been.
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There was another touching scene with Jesus and his mother in the carpenter shop--also a flashback.
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I also liked the flashback that showed, from Jesus's perspective, what it must have looked like riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It wasn't touching, but it *was* a visually impressive moment juxtaposed against making his way through the crowd on the way to Golgotha.

Erik is right...there are moments that make you realize what the movie might have been.
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Yes yes yes! I too enjoyed those two fleeting moments. Although I think a crack of a whip or something ripped me out of the palm sunday scene rather quickly.
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re: the passion#138
Posted: 3/6/04 at 10:45am
Here, as I mentioned earlier in this thread, is the Frank Rich piece in this Sunday's Arts & Leisure: "Mel Gibson Forgives Us For His Sins". I hope those affected by the film and not, will take the time to read it.
Mel Gibson Forgives Us for His Sins
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re: re: the passion#139
Posted: 3/6/04 at 11:09am
Frank Rich makes a point that is in keeping with how I feel (although perhaps in more condescending terminology that I would have used) that he has no problem with people who brought their own spirituality to the film and found great meaning in the experience. His displeasure is focused on the philosophy, intent, and arrogance of Mel and his cohorts.

Good article. Thanks for posting the link.
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re: re: re: the passion#140
Posted: 3/6/04 at 12:17pm
Also, do read the A. O. Scott piece about all the hate mail he's received from "Christians," complete with obscenities. I love all the turning of the other cheek. It's so moving the way people have taken the message of their saviour to heart.

People keep saying Mel's film will "bring people back to Jesus." If only.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: re: re: re: the passion#141
Posted: 3/6/04 at 12:19pm
i send a.o. scott hate mail on a weekly basis just on principle.

mrs. mambo and i are planning to see the passion of the christ today.
r.i.p. marco, my guardian angel.

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re: re: re: re: re: the passion#142
Posted: 3/6/04 at 12:48pm
Papa, I especially look forward to your post on the film.
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re: re: re: re: re: the passion#143
Posted: 3/6/04 at 12:54pm
I must say that Mel's film has opened a dialgue abut spiritual matters. At work the other day there was an animated discussion about the film among my co-workers: an Orthodox Jew, A Jehovah's Witness, a Muslim, and an Oxymoron (that's me--a Gay Catholic!). It was a cordial and sincere talk. Not everyone likes the film, but it's good to have people talking about religious matters instead of the rising costs gasoline and home heating fuel.
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all righty then, mrs. mambo and i just returned from seeing the passion of the christ and i thought i might take a moment or two and try to capture my thoughts for those who care to hear. and for those who don't care to hear, well, duh, i just said what i was gonna do, why are you still reading? move along, nothing to see here.





***this post contains spoilers***





anyway, to begin with, i can't say i enjoyed the film, but i don't think that it was meant to be enjoyed as one would apply the connotation to a film say about dating or the fall of a popular politician. however, i did appreciate the film as a piece of art much as one would a painting. in fact at several points it reminded me of graphic art not seen since some of the florentine stuff of giotto and company with it's pendant viscera and exposed bowels. i find it interesting that people never mention the horribly graphic work of the italian religious artists when they point out the graphic nature of this movie. christian art has always been a theatre of the grotesque. a friend of mine who's agnostic by nature told me of the time she ended up quite ill from a tour of florentine churches and their attendant art. but i digress.

i was moved to tears on a few occasions and found that the flashbacks were not nearly as brief or as infrequent as described, but perhaps that was just my feeling. they managed to convey more than once the idea of forgiveness, of love and of hope that was jesus's message. again, that's just me talking.

i was annoyed by a few things. the slow-mo at the beginning in the garden annoyed me (although i totally blame erik for making me hyper aware of it) although later on it didn't bother me at all. the temple splitting after jesus's death was so freakin' cheesy i kept waiting for a robot to pop up at the bottom of the screen and yell, "moses, the red sea, you bonehead, not the altar!!" the devil character left me pretty cold as i guess i'm not as literate in my bible studies as i should be for some of her/it's appearances left me wondering, "what the hell?"

as far as the anti-semitism goes, man them pharisees came off pretty bad. but as he got to the top of the mountain he says "i am the shepherd. i give my life for my sheep. no one takes it from me. i give it willingly." this is intercut with shots of caiaphas and is clearly meant to absolve any human from blame. the effectiveness of that scene i think is open to interpretation. but it is clearly an attempt to show that christ was born to die and that this death was his father's will, not the fault of any mortal. many will say, too little too late, and i can sympathize with them as the pharisees and their followers are cast in a bad light throughout the film. but not all jews are caught in this spotlight as the further the blood brigade gets out of town on its way to calvary the more sympathetic the people along the way become and the more brutal the romans. i found that to be an interesting dynamic.

blood blood blood. yep, there was plenty of it. i think that some of the dripping blood towards the end was over the top. not the part where he was stabbed, but the blood pouring through when they nail him to the cross. the blood that frames the corner of the lens when he looks at mary...mel, we get it, it's already bloody enough. but other than that, i had no problem with the violence. it was appropriate to the story i felt.

the performances across the board were strong and moving. what maia did without words was phenomenal and should earn her a best supporting actress nod, but will not. the film looked gorgeous but that's caleb deschanel, he's a wizard and always has been. all in all, i am glad to have seen this film. i'm glad that it was made. and i feel that it was a success more as an artistic moment than as a film. i feel that mel gave life to the story that i knew from childhood and brought an ugly reality that i perhaps might never have imagined to the sacrifice that i believe jesus made for all humanity.
r.i.p. marco, my guardian angel.

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pray to st. jude

i'm a sonic reducer

he was the gimmicky sort

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Updated On: 3/6/04 at 07:56 PM
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amen. re: ***big ol' freakin' passion spoilers galore***
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Papa: Very thoughtful take on the film. You've almost got me in a seat. Almost. I was particularly relieved to read that the flashbacks do have more weight and utlimately provide more clarifying balance. Personally, I'm less worried about the violence per se, and more fearful of ending up ... what? ... just left bereft, feeling ... hopeless. Maybe it's this season, maybe it's mid-life crisis that tends to spiral downward during winter, but I am literally afraid of the film's "power" -- over me -- if said power is used to focus on destructive energy alone.

You have whetted my appetite, a poor choice of words perhaps, but I much appreciate your reminding us of the italian tradition of focussing on the extreme suffering in the Passion. And other artists have always looked to the darkest elements for inspiration, i.e. I'm a big fan of Bach's "St. Matthew's Passion," and actually, the Master's music is suffused with pain.
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Updated On: 3/6/04 at 08:09 PM
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auggie, if you're worried about the film's power and if you are in a vulnerable place, then i would say, wait. no film, even this one, is worth potentially putting yourself in a bad place. while much of it's power i think comes from the big screen environment, it'll be out on dvd eventually and you can rent it and not feel bad about turning it off or skipping things if you want.

one piece of advice if you do decide to go, though: late showing. the later the better. i was totally freaked out by the number of kids there and their attendant chatter. i was about to go all pilate on their asses.
r.i.p. marco, my guardian angel.

...global warming can manifest itself as heat, cool, precipitation, storms, drought, wind, or any other phenomenon, much like a shapeshifter. -- jim geraghty

pray to st. jude

i'm a sonic reducer

he was the gimmicky sort

fenchurch=mejusthavingfun=magwildwood=mmousefan=bkcollector=bradmajors=somethingtotalkabout: the fenchurch mpd collective
MusicMan
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Well, papa. we are in agreement about the Passion. Check out my posts above.
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Rich article#149
Posted: 3/7/04 at 1:17am
Thanks for pointing out the Frank Rich article, magruder. One thing that struck me about it was that he seemed to have seized on a theme posted here by Namo weeks ago. (Back when Namo would still post.) The concept that the violence seemed a form of erotica to Mel.

Now it makes me wonder if Richard is actually Rich. Didn't Frank Rich start his new position with the Times the beginning of this month? And how long has Namo been missing from posting? Some have said they've seen him online. Why doesn't he post? Could he have some non-compete clause? Can Namo no longer post about theater or pop culture because of an exclusivity contract? Is he self-censoring to avoid conflicts? Can he be seen at the door on West43ST only posing for photos but refusing to write anything?

The mind reels.
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re: Rich article#150
Posted: 3/7/04 at 1:28am
two words: restraining order
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