23 February 2004


I'm looking forward to seeing Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ which opens Wednesday.

I am not a Christian by a long shot, but I have a weird soft spot for Passion films. It started when, as a teenager working in a video store, I discovered that Jesus Christ Superstar would gather dust on the shelf until you ran it on the TV in the store: by the time Judas shows up on screen, you have half a dozen people begging to rent it. Since then, I've kept an eye on the genre: I own a copy of Scorscese's Last Temptation of Christ and will eventually pick up Jesus of Montreal, which are both terrific films by any measure. Plus you have Max von Sydow as Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told! And Life of Bryan!

Gibson clearly has an interesting cinematic vision. I'm disappointed that the picture will be released with subtitles -- Mel clearly really wanted to do a ''silent'' film.

And there's the dustup over whether the picture is antisemitic. There are reasons to take those concerns seriously. The only way to have an meaningful opinion is to see the picture.

Newsweek has a fascinating article about the film, the history, and the Gospels. Not only does it weave the three strands together intelligently, you have to admire the mainstream media deftness with which it attempts to grapple with the hard questions without offending anyone.

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