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2.5 Stars for the Gibson Film
The online ratings give 2.5 stars for Gibson's film. Ernest and I saw
it tonight and both felt that's how we would have rated it. Neither
of us got worked up about it either way. Both felt that it is not
nearly as good as the book. Both hope Gibson never does a movie on
Leviticus, lest he stop preaching and go to serious meddling.
If this movie had not had the advance hype and the excessive reactions
to it, I doubt that it would be much noticed. It seems to me that it
does very well what it sets out to do, that is, it lets us experience
vicariously huge doses of the atrocity of Jesus' Passion.
As at other horror films, Ernest kept his eyes open through all of it,
and I heard all but had lots of long blinks for the many scourges. I
am highly suggestible to drama, especially the drama of the Passion,
and I prefer to experience it through the Stations and through Bach's
"O Sacred Head Now Wounded." I don't subject myself to "There is
power, power, wondrous working power, in the blood of the Lamb, oh
there is power, power, wondrous working power, in the precious blood
of the Lamb" -- a Baptist libation from which I was weaned when I
became an Episcopalian.
One cardinal rule of acting -- that many amateurs never learn -- is
that the actor does not come on at top volume or intensity in the
first scene: that leaves no room for building later, and the audience
turns off to screaming at the same intensity throughout a play.
Mel's focus on Good Friday alone puts the film in something of the
same predicament. I did find lots of relief in his generous use of
I am not upset that the film is getting more attention than it is due.
It has stimulated some helpful discussions. E.g., I think it is
always important to look at Christians' deplorable record of
anti-Semitism in dramatic presentations of the Passion throughout
I also found Herod's decadent campiness worth noting, as well as the
ambisexuality of the demonic (male? female?) character who kept
showing up through the film, but I do not take these as assaults on
gay people, only on stereotypes.
People really should not write about this film without seeing it.
They will run a terrible risk of making something bigger out of it
than it is. However, I recommend waiting until you can rent this from
your local video store. Give the money that you save to Episcopal
Relief and Development. (At senior rates, Ernest and I paid $15 to
see it at the cinema; in 2 months, we could rent if for $3 for 48
L., Nwk Deputation, Member of Executive Council
Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12D, E. Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1068
http://www.gracechurchinnewark.org Grace Church: Home of "America the Beautiful"