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The Passion of the Christ


Romier S
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A forward to this post. Many here are aware of the rules stating there is to be no religious talk on this forum and for this thread I do want to grant some leniancy because the subject matter of this movie deals with that very subject. With that I do want to ask our members to please keep the discussion on topic. That is keep the discussion on the film. If this thread deviates into area that is not to my liking I will close it down without a second thought. I hope we understand each other and I know our membership can behave in a mature manner enough to discuss this absolutely brilliant film.

 

My wife and I have been interested in seeing the film since we first saw the trailer and today we decided to make it a family event by bringing along my parents and my sister. I want to bring some background into this discussion because its important to know that I was raised Catholic. I have not however considered myself to be Catholic for a very long time. I have very personal feelings about religion that I will not share here but suffice it to say that I am a very non-religious human being and I will admit to being hesitant (but as noted above interested) about seeing The Passion of the Christ.

 

I just got back from the movie and I'll sum this up quickly. I was and am an emotional wreck. This is a powerful movie. From the first opening scene until the light shines through the cracks of the cave at the very end you will FEEL this movie. I must also say that this is not a movie that I can ever sit through again. Its an experience that IMHO needs to be seen at least once and to do so again would ruin what it leaves in your mind and heart.

 

The representation of Satan is the first thing that will strike you because Gibson has chosen an actress to represent Satan named Rosalinda Celentano. I have never seen a more true or frightening depiction of Satan. She is beautiful and that beauty is juxtaposed with striking visuals of maggots crawling through her face and snakes obeying her commands.

 

There is a scene in the beginning of the film before Jesus is captured. He is afraid of what is coming and falls to his knees praying to his father and asks that he be given the stength to lay down his life. Satan appears in what is to me the absolute best scene in the film. Satan tries to convince him that humanity is not worth saving. That the burden of death to wipe away our sins is too much for even one man to bear. It is an amazing amazing amazing scene to watch and it resonates with you long after the film is over. After the capture and during the scenes of torture (whipping) there is a tracking shot of the crowd as Satan walks behind them smiling as Jesus looks up, in her arms she carries a deformed baby closely and lovingly. As if to say in your darkest hour I will hold you close to me. In speaking with Jay (Robot Monkey) he made an even more astute observation in saying that the baby may represent man, imperfect in his design.

 

A great number of criticisms have been leveled towards this movie including anti-semitic accusations and being more violence than subtance. I say hogwash to both. The Jewish people are presented in equally good and bad light. Simon who cames to the aid of Jesus and helps him bear the cross (at first by force and then by free will) is the perfect example of this. The romans are depicted far worse in this film heaping injustice after injustice on Jesus of Nazareth. This is not an easy film to watch ladies and gentleman. The brutality is not hidden. The blood, the pain and the anguish are there for you to witness and I say this again: For you to FEEL. I was personally a balling mess during the whipping sequence and I'll tell you that I couldn't continue watching, I had to turn away. Even with that I cannot, no scratch that, will not say that the violence here is unnecessary. It is as important to the movie as the story on which it is based. You cannot understand what this man went through unless you are shown and you can't be half-hearted about it. I am truly grateful that Mel Gibson and his cast and crew went where they needed to go here.

 

I'll stop there as I don't want to touch on too many points of the timeline the movie follows (and rob you of the experience) so I''ll leave the preceeding thoughts for you to mull over and move onto something that I really look for when I watch a film of this magnitude. More to the point I wanted to touch on the score which I ADORED. The soundtrack credits include Mel Gibson and John Debney but there are of course some other contributions. The cue during the bearing of the cross is captivating. Its a percussion heavy track with a very middle eastern flavored vocalist singing above the music. The more subdued music fits the subject matter and does what a good soundtrack is supposed to to do; compliment the film. I went and purchased it as soon as I left the movie theater.

 

To close this post out I wanted to say that as somone that does not, in every day life, believe in notions of faith or spirituality I left The Passion of the Christ rethinking some of the things that I let go of years ago. Not to say that I have all of a sudden changed my entire belief system because it certainly take more than a movie to do that to me or anyone out there. However having been raised a certain way, I went into this film one way and I left another. It may seem silly to regard a film in such a manner but I commend Mel Gibson for having the balls to tackle this subject matter and for providing ideas that have not been a part of my regular thought process for a very very long time.

 

Thanks for reading.

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I've been wanting to see this since it came out (I am very religous) but I don't like being in large groups of people, some kind of fear I have. However, it has turned two of my athiest friends to God, and I feel (even though I haven't see it yet) that this movie isn't just a movie, but an adventure to the truth of all religions. By the way, I never knew that religous talk wasn't allowed here.

 

Also, I had a little giggle when you said *Spoilers*, just if you know your bible then there isnt no spoilers, but if your athiest then I guess it would be a spoiler. I respect everyones point of view.

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Also, I had a little giggle when you said *Spoilers*,

 

To clarify the spoilers part of my thread its simply that the way in which is this movie is handled. How Gibson presents the suffering. The timeline used and character portrayals are what I consider to spoiler material and are the very heart of this movie. I wanted people to know that in my post some of that would be revealed and I would not feel right not warning folks about that beforehand.

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First, I want to say that I saw this movie with my wife the day after it opened but have kept from posting here and at the HTF because of the forum rules.

 

Romier, great post. Your post undeniably shows how much of an impact the film had on you. Like you, I was raised catholic but haven't really participated since communion when i was a teenager. I agree with everything you wrote. I loved the movie. Every aspect of the movie was fabulous from the direction, to the acting, to the cinematography, to the score. I hope the film isn't forgotten for next years oscars as I feel the film should be nominated in every category.

 

James Caviezel and Maia Morgenstern were just amazing.

 

My favorite scenes were:

 

-flashback scene when Jesus is building a table and tells Mary: "See, mother, I make all things new."

-one of the many times Jesus falls with the cross, Mary sees him and remembers Jesus falling as a child and coming to his aid. Very moving.

-the "tear" drop from the sky and the possible realization of what everyone had done.

 

After the capture and during the scenes of torture (whipping) there is a tracking shot of the crowd as Satan walks behind them smiling as Jesus looks up, in her arms she carries a deformed baby that holds closely and lovingly. As if to say in your darkest hour I will hold you close to me. In speaking with Jay (Robot Monkey) he made an even more astute observation in saying that the baby may represent man, imperfect in his design.

Those are 2 interesting observations and either one can apply. I took Satan holding the child as if to say: here I hold and protect this child no matter how imperfect, yet your father allows you to suffer at the hands of others that you're willing to die for to forgive their sins.

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FutureVoid, I am just like you describe. A Catholic by family-line, but a practicing, well, nothing. I am interested in this movie. I will probably wait for it to come out on DVD though. I am not religious, I do not like realistic violence (Freddy vs. Jason doesn't count), and I've heard this movie is sort of an art movie... one of those 'I appreciate the acting' movies.

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I'm a practicing Catholic, and I took the day off to see this movie on release day. I was floored. It was the ultimate cathartic movie for me. I am totally unable to divorce the spirtual side of this movie and deconstruct it on purely cinematic terms, nor would I ever want to.

 

Since Mel is a Catholic himself, I was hoping the movie would pay special attention to our Blessed Mother, Mary. I was not dissapointed. The scenes with Mary are all beautifully done. She is portrayed exactly as I have imagined her to be, full of Grace, replete with a mother's love for her child, but also fully resolved to accepting His ultimate sacrifice.

 

Suffice to say I give this movie the highest recommendation possible. I have seen it twice now. I hope it is still in the theaters on Good Friday, as I would love to see it again then.

 

As to the question of the ugly baby, here's the straight scoop, purportedly from Mel Gibson himself:

 

Christianity Today Article

 

"it's evil distorting what's good. What is more tender and beautiful than a mother and a child? So the Devil takes that and distorts it just a little bit. Instead of a normal mother and child you have an androgynous figure holding a 40-year-old 'baby' with hair on his back. It is weird, it is shocking, it's almost too much.."

 

 

Carlos.

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I've not seen the film yet, but I'm curious. I've basically got doubts in two areas from the professional reviews I've read, and I'd be curious to hear what you guys think.

 

Firstly, several UK reviews, both positive and negative, have emphasised the fact that Gibson has shot this as a horror movie. Everything from describing that opening scene in a way that makes me unsurprised that Satan appears looking like a zombie, to the amount of gore involved, makes it interesting for a film lauded by many people who usually condemn cinematic bloodshed. How bad is it, really? Bear in mind that persuading my wife to sit through Alien was a serious challenge, I've a feeling I may be going on my own.

 

Secondly, however, I'm unconvinced that it'll end up coming out favorably to The Last Temptation Of Christ, one of my favorite films. Despite the fact that Scorcese's film was soundly attacked upon release by some of the people lauding The Passion, I feel that it did an amazing job of making you understand why he chose to die for all our sins, while The Passion seems very concerned with concentrating on how he died at the hands of those nasty Jews and Romans.

 

Again, I empasise that I've not seen it myself yet, and this is merely the impression I've got from reviews. Are they being overly negative?

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Cal & I have talked about seeing this, but so far have not gone. I think that waiting for the DVD will in some way " ruin " the impact of this movie. There are some movies that just have to be seen in a theatre the way they were meant to be shown. Saving Private Ryan and ID4 are 2 of these movies.

 

As I am Wiccan I would have to say I don't think this movie will have as great an impact on my beliefs as others might have, but still, if the movie is as moving and as realistic as you say Romier, then I would imagine it will affect me in some way. I was one of the most vocal about seeing the Holocaust museum in DC and I am still upset we missed out.

 

What is it about religious persecution that brings out the humanity in us in general ? Some of the most moving films I recall from childhood dealt with WW2. And every Easter the networks roll out the biblical movies over and over. But after so many years how much impact do they have ? Halocrossfirethingy said above, that he knows people who have turned to faith as a result of this movie. How many other movies can we say that about ?

 

I think I will have to prod Cal to take me to the movies pretty soon. I don't want to miss seeing this as it should be seen.

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Since Mel is a Catholic himself, I was hoping the movie would pay special attention to our Blessed Mother, Mary. I was not dissapointed. The scenes with Mary are all beautifully done. She is portrayed exactly as I have imagined her to be, full of Grace, replete with a mother's love for her child, but also fully resolved to accepting His ultimate sacrifice.

 

Yeah, when we saw it on Saturday, my girlfriend, who isn't Catholic (I'm not either, but I don't go to church :)), admitted that she never quite got the big deal about Mary, but she was very affected by her in the film.

 

Firstly, several UK reviews, both positive and negative, have emphasised the fact that Gibson has shot this as a horror movie. Everything from describing that opening scene in a way that makes me unsurprised that Satan appears looking like a zombie, to the amount of gore involved, makes it interesting for a film lauded by many people who usually condemn cinematic bloodshed. How bad is it, really? Bear in mind that persuading my wife to sit through Alien was a serious challenge, I've a feeling I may be going on my own.

 

Secondly, however, I'm unconvinced that it'll end up coming out favorably to The Last Temptation Of Christ, one of my favorite films. Despite the fact that Scorcese's film was soundly attacked upon release by some of the people lauding The Passion, I feel that it did an amazing job of making you understand why he chose to die for all our sins, while The Passion seems very concerned with concentrating on how he died at the hands of those nasty Jews and Romans.

 

The impression that the film gave me was that the most important thing to Mel Gibson was to vividly illustrate just what Christ was taking upon Himself, because it's so easy to just say "Christ suffered and died for our sins. It must have hurt pretty badly, so he's a swell guy for doing that." I think that's why the movie is so graphic (it's definitely a lot nastier than Alien), and it seems to have worked for people that I've talked to as they've said that the film, even taking into account certain artistic liberties, has strongly put the suffering into perspective for them in a way that they never fully had before. What Christ went through was truly grueling and it makes people that much more thankful that He made that kind of sacrifice for them.

 

And I definitely think the movie is more of a "how" than a "why". The gore to a large extent is the point of the film, not the build-up and why it happens. The movie assumes you already know all of that, which is probably why many people who aren't religious or Christian have criticized it for being "act 3" of a longer movie.

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Again, I empasise that I've not seen it myself yet, and this is merely the impression I've got from reviews. Are they being overly negative?

 

 

They are being way overly negative IMO. It seems most of the negative reviews focus on the violence and totally miss the boat on the true meaning of the film. I think alot of the negativity being tossed at this movie stems from fear and ignorance (please dont take that personal if you do not like the movie).

 

I've been asked by many people if they should see the movie. My thought is you will get whatever you take into it. If you are a believer or your heart is open to change then this movie is most definately worth seeing and will have a big impact on you. It helps alot to have some knowledge of the backstory leading up to the last 12 hours of Jesus' life. If however your heart has been hardened and you go into the movie close minded than I can see how the movie certainly could be seen in a negative light. That is not to say that someone that fits that description couldn't be moved to think differently though.

 

Sitting through this movie was one experience I will never forget. I've never seen so many people brought to tears from a movie before. It was without a doubt the most emotional I have ever gotten during a movie. As the credits rolled there was a hush over the crowd as everyone gathered their thoughts and attempted to regain control of their emotions. I look at this films as a work of art and BY FAR the best and most realistic description of the last 12 hours of Christ ever put on film.

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I can't really abide graphic violence in general, especially when its use seems to blatantly hammer home a specific point. I remain very curious to see the film (opens in the UK on the 26th of this month I believe), mind you, as curious as I have been for a couple of years now since Gibson first announced he was going to do it.

 

I have Debney's score, it is indeed an excellent score seemingly filled with as much passion from it's composer in writing it as one could imagine Gibson had in filming it (there are some interesting Debney articles out there about it). Heck, I am just glad to see Debney get such a break since his he's had a wonderful career in film since the 80s with so much of his work going unrecognised and frankly, unreleased via domestic channels. I think I have to rank Debney alongside David Newman as one of the best composers who'd often be stuck in the 'promotional score release only' loophole. This score may change that.

 

 

I'm Jewish, and plan to see the film with a friend of the family (and yes, of mine) who is a Catholic priest, so there should be some good post-film discussion once I see it. Again with the violence, whether I let my eyes see much of it I do not yet know.

 

Daniel

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My g/f and I saw The Passion last week. I have been following the development of this film for quite sometime. I was born and raised Catholic, but do not practice it anymore. I still do the Lent thing though. :)

Like Romier, I won't discuss why I don't practice religion anymore since this is not the place for it.

 

As for The Passion, Mel Gibson has created a very powerful and brutal film. The violence is very severe, but only in one part... the whipping scene. I think after seeing that, you are desensitized to any other violence in the film. I for one was always fascinated with the story of Christ dieing for our sins. Seeing it on film in this manner really hits it home that this Man went through a living hell to die for what He truly believed in. My g/f was an absolute wreck after the film, I didn't cry, but I was choked up (she still insists that I cried :) ). The scenes that had me choked up the most were the scenes with Mary having to watch her child being beaten and tortured the way he was. Me being a new father made me think about being in her shoes. I could not handle seeing that happen to my son. Mary was always portrayed in the Bible as a strong woman, and Mel does a very good job of portraying her properly as written.

 

For me, the the lady playing Satan was the highlight of the film. The stories in the Bible about Satan always being around to screw with Jesus, to try and get him to turn on His Father were the best parts of Jesus' story. To see that portrayed on film the way it was in The Passion was very chilling. For me, the opening scene of Satan yammering in Jesus' ear was one of the best scenes in the whole film, and I also knew after seeing that, The Passion was going to hit a home run for the entire span of the film. Everything from the flashbacks, to Mary staring Satan down in the crowds, to the tear drop from the Heavens after Christ finally passes were all very moving. I just wish the film could of been a bit longer with a few more flashback scenes.

 

Did I come out of the film a changed man about my Faith and Religion? Yes and no. I feel stronger about my Faith, but I do not feel any different about religion. I've always believed in God and Satan, and I have a stronger belief for them both now.

 

Oh, and the final scene was handled perfectly, I couldn't imagine a more uplifiting moment in film. Run to go see this film. Do not wait to watch this on DVD, this is a film that just cries out to be seen on the big screen.

 

-Dean-

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A friend and I went to see the film the Friday after it opened. Neither of us are Catholic, but we both consider ourselves to be believers. Our inital reaction was simply being left speechless. One comment she later made to me fits in with some of the previous comments about Mary - my friend doesn't have children but she said that even as a potential mother (she wants kids eventually), the scenes with Mary were very heartwrenching. Of course, those scenes were some of the hardest for me to watch as well.

 

I can understand how the violence in the film might be too much for some people, but for me, it definitely wasn't excessive - I don't like senseless violence, but the violence in The Passion had a point which made all the difference to me. It was very moving and powerful, and it has made a difference in my personal religious life.

 

In the end, I think that it's likely going to be a very personal experience for anyone who goes to see it, whether they end up liking it or not - I wouldn't let critics or even any of us really influence anyone's decision to go see it, or what you think about it.

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I actually saw a couple of reviews (wish I could remember which critics they were) that gave it a bad review because Mel didn't add no new twists to the plot. :bang:

 

Yeah, only if Vin Diesel could of come in guns blazing to save the day, as Jesus was being nailed to the cross. :roll:

 

-Dean-

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Since everyone else is sharing their religious background, I will too: I am a non-Catholic Christian. Saw The Passion of The Christ opening day. Terrific film. Anyone who has a background in the subject matter, particularly Christians, will have an even more personally moving experience when viewing this film. I applaud Mel Gibson for making this film and putting it in theaters despite the controversy.

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Secondly, however, I'm unconvinced that it'll end up coming out favorably to The Last Temptation Of Christ, one of my favorite films. Despite the fact that Scorcese's film was soundly attacked upon release by some of the people lauding The Passion, I feel that it did an amazing job of making you understand why he chose to die for all our sins, while The Passion seems very concerned with concentrating on how he died at the hands of those nasty Jews and Romans

 

If you go into it with mind set Ian I seriously doubt you will come to understand what Mel Gibson was trying to achieve here. I do agree with one of our members said above, you take away what you bring to this movie. The Last Temptation of Christ (which I also have a great deal of respect for) is a completely different film. Passion deals with the last 12 hours of Jesus' life and the torture he had to endure for our sins to be forgiven. Last Temptation is more about Christs humanity and how he could be tempted given his role as the savior. I've quote below the thoughts of a gentleman named Ernest Rister (who wrote the excellent AI summary we read through). He gave his opinions on the very comparison you are making Ian and I wanted to quote those thoughts because his feelings are perfectly in line with my own:

 

I think The Passion is intelligent, profound, and emotionally overwhelming. I think it also presents Christ as a man from the very first scene -- Jesus is seen begging God to save him from the fate he knows awaits him. I was reminded instantly of Last Temptation. It is interesting how Gibson and Scorsese employed modernist techniques -- Last Temptation strove to portray divinity as a process that Christ explores, leading to his realization that he is the lamb of God, and must die willingly. Scorsese brought a 20th-Century sensibility to the portrayal of the key characters. As the film's opening prologue stated, it wasn't a treatment of the Gospels. It was an experimental film looking at the humanity of Christ -- how could Christ be tempted by Satan if he wasn't human? Christ's triumph over these temptations was the path Scorsese used to try and find the glory in the martyrdom. It was ultimately a film of love.

 

Like Gibson, Scorsese portrayed Satan as both male and female. Like Gibson, Scorsese used snake imagery as en expression of sin. Like Gibson, Scorsese employed R-rated gore and violence and refused to pull his punches.

 

Gibson had a different point of attack. He focused on the martyrdom, as it is the central moment of the Christian faith, to show the strength of Christ's resolve to die willingly. The martyrdom puts Christ's teachings to the test -- despite the abuse, he forgives those who abuse him. He never raises a hand against his foes and he dies without hate.

 

I don't necessarily consider one film superior to the other, they're both exploring different questions, nor do I see a point in trying to trash one to elevate the other. They're both amazing films. It's like criticizing Patton in an effort to elevate Band of Brothers, or faulting Open Range in an effort to praise Tombstone. Both Last Temptation and Passion are outstanding movies, but they are fundamentally different movies, and I see no reason to fault either in an effort to praise one or the other. I feel lucky to have been given both.

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It's good to see that some of you are enjoying this movie. While I will not be seeing it, I'm glad it's meant so much to so many people. I can only hope the rest of the population is as intelligent and sensitive as all of you are, and come away with positive messages and feelings.

 

Passion plays are nothing new, and while they can be a great coming-together of like-faithed people, they can also be dangerous. Let's hope this one continues to create positivity rather than anything else. ;)

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great coming-together of like-faithed people

 

That is exactly what has kept me shocked since I came out of that movie theater Josh. I am, for what its worth, not a like-faith person. I haven't stepped foot in a church or practiced what is considered to be my "faith" in close to fifteen years (my family still believes that I am a Catholic but I do not consider myself to be one. I will say that I do believe in god and leave it at that). However this film has got me asking myself questions that I haven't asked in in that same amount of time. Questions about faith and what that should or shouldn't mean to me.

 

Again I don't want to lay out my belief system in this thread because as Dean said best this isn't the time or the place and surely I'm not about to start attending church this coming Sunday because I saw the "light" ;). This film has not suddenly turned me into a religous human being, but I respect this film as a well made piece of cinema and I respect the fact that it made me feel so deeply about something that I haven't cared to think about since I was a child. For whatever that is worth...

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I just got my school newspaper today and there was a review on it which made me extremely angry. The writer seem surprised by what happened in the movie... :wtf:

 

I'll upload a scan of the article once my FTP works.

 

Mel Gibson's movie appears to point the finer at the Jews: the main reason probably being its portrayal of the perfect Pontius Pilate.

 

Yeah, in my ublic high school, he was allowed to post an article about religion where we cant wear religious shirts or ANYTHING.

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Mel Gibson's movie appears to point the finger at the Jews: the main reason probably being its portrayal of the perfect Pontius Pilate.

 

A fairly ridiculous statement. Anyone paying attention to the film could have seen Pontius Pilate was anything but perfect. He was a man who in danger of execution himself and the only inner struggle he had was how best to quell a rebellion that would have cost him his life (You let Jesus go and the council members will cause a revolt, you condemn him and his followers revolt). He could have cared less either way about the life that hung in the balance. The only one shown to be caring was Claudia and her pleas meant little to him in the end, only causing him to question the validity of his situation and decide a course of action.

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Thanks greatly, Romier. I think that really caught what I wanted to get clear on the film. Not so much that it is "better" or "worse" than Last Temptation, but what it is that Gibson is trying to do differently, and that while he's really working with the same tools, its to a different end.

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I am curious to see what the response is upon the film's global release and whether it will be as personally brutal toward Gibson and those involved or whether the reaction thus far is just a highlight of some of Americas people being so often ruthlessly outspoken and unreserved (I do emphasise the word 'some' there, I don't mean to cause friction with all my American chums at LCVG, it's simply a fascination I have with the way some Americans embrace their religions).

 

Although I am not sure when Steven Spielberg was appointed the position of Moses to the Jewish filmmaking community (he never really came to reflect much upon his religion's past until after he'd made Schindler's List), he did say something rather decent when quizzed on his opinion of the film. He said, and this was last week, he'd yet to see the film, but Mel Gibson would be the first person he'll voice his opinion to when he has. He noted that as the smarter decision rather than get caught up in this whole mess surrounding the film.

 

Thats just terrible. It never ceases to amaze me how frightening the world we live in really is.

 

Indeed. We've discussed these sorts of things over AOL before, and this again is really what I highlight in my first paragraph above. You're aware of some of the startling stories agains Kevin Smith and his film Dogma I take it? To quote Gibson's great stint on the Simpsons; "It's hell being Mel!"

 

I'm still listening to Debney's score an awful lot this week.

 

Daniel

 

PS: Does anyone feel a little uncomfortable at the possibility of Gibson hoarding so much of the profits from such a film? Of course, I've no reason to be certain he's claiming so much of the rewards for himself, but it did cross my mind whether any percentage of the profits would be put into things he personally believes in (not just religious).

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Actually, now you mention Spielberg, I found quite relevant the reply Gibson gave when asked about the whole anti-semitism thing:

 

Originally posted by "Mel Gibson"

After watching 'Schindler's List,' I was moved by the horrors the people in it suffered, but I didn't come out hating Germans

 

That's from memory, so probably not word-for-word, but you get the point. I think if there is a failing that Gibson can be accused of, its being too simplistic with his 'villains' for emotional effect, not anti-semitism. Despite the criticisms, he's at least come a hell of a long way from the cartoon bad guy Patrick MacGoohan played in Braveheart.

 

edited for stupid did/didn't typo...

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I think if there is a failing that Gibson can be accused of, its being too simplistic with his 'villains' for emotional effect, not anti-semitism. Despite the criticisms, he's at least come a hell of a long way from the cartoon bad guy Patrick MacGoohan played in Braveheart.

 

Mmm yes, a well put point. I must agree completely.

 

Daniel

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