Tags: 'Passion' | Lives | the | Hype

'Passion' Lives Up to the Hype

Monday, 23 February 2004 12:00 AM

That pattern came to a halt with my screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." Finally, Hollywood has produced a film that lives up to the headlines, fervor and high expectations.

I was given the opportunity to see Gibson's epic in a small screening facility in Manhattan. As interested as I was in the actual film, I was also intent on seeing how other filmgoers were going to react to the movie.

Surely, if the movie stirred as many emotions as promised, even a handful of cynical critics, film experts and journalists would have a notable reaction.

I was not disappointed.

First and foremost, this is an amazing movie. Any regular theatergoer will admire the strikingly beautiful cinematography, the powerful acting (particularly by James Caviezel as Jesus and Maia Morgenstern as Mary, Jesus' mother), and even the haunting, beautiful musical score. Just on these characteristics alone, the movie is a resounding success. But "The Passion of the Christ" is almost overwhelming in the uniqueness of the style and methods that Gibson used. I was riveted while listening to Caviezel's voice in Aramaic. As you have probably read by now, every word of the movie is in either this ancient language or "street Latin" for the Romans, which would have been the original language spoken at the time.

While surprisingly easy to follow the English captions and accompanying action, knowing that Jesus would have used those exact same words while spreading the Word is an immensely spiritual and dramatic experience.

Much has been written about the "violence" of the movie, particularly as it would be absorbed by children. Yes, the scourging and torture of Christ in the movie is shockingly realistic and graphic. When Gibson filmed Jesus' captors punching Him in the mouth and stomping Him with their feet, you see and almost feel every blow. His gasps and moans are dreadful, just as Gibson intended. In fact, the effect of the whips and "cat o' nine tails" on His body is, at times, practically too horrific to describe in print.

You will not leave the theater doubting how much He suffered.

However, I'd have to urge parents to strongly consider experiencing this movie with their children. Let's face it, our kids are exposed to slasher movies and "shoot 'em up" films all the time. Or if they haven't seen one yet, they will soon enough.

It seems to me that if I had to make the choice between my child seeing his or her first film violence by way of some crazed ax-murderer slashing up a teenage victim, or the Biblically correct story of Jesus suffering, dying and rising from the dead, I'd make sure my child saw the latter.

My advice: Take your child. Explain how difficult it will be to see the terrible pain and anguish He experienced. But be confident that your child is able to understand why He suffered, and how redemptive and wonderful the ultimate outcome will be.

I have one further piece of advice. Whoever you take, go see this movie and see it soon. Don't kid yourself, the elitist Hollywood left is rooting for this movie to fail. Never before has a Christian movie featuring meticulous attention to Scriptural detail been given such a huge platform. Out-of-touch-with-mainstream-America Hollywood can't believe that finally, we Christians are getting our chance to take center stage in a venue other than a church on Sunday morning.

The bean counters will watch the box office numbers closely the first week it opens. If there's a huge turnout, they'll be forced to acknowledge the film's success. I'm hoping and praying that it will be one of the biggest movies of the year. Hey, what a welcome relief from Janet Jackson, the finale of "Sex in the City" and the general cesspool that passes for entertainment today, eh?

But ultimately, the true victory will be the thousands and thousands of Americans who will be impacted by "The Passion of the Christ." I have no doubt that an incredible number of people will turn to God, many for the first time in their lives.

In my book, Mel Gibson will be one of the greatest heroes of the 21st century. He's been slammed for his beliefs, attacked for the words of his father, and portrayed as some kind of a kook. Frankly, his determination to finance and complete this movie and bring the Word of God to millions of people all over the world is, well, Christ-like. How many actors or filmmakers can ever make that claim?

When the final credits began to roll, there wasn't a sound in the small theater, except for the sniffling and soft crying of many of us who were given the wonderful opportunity to see this movie. But without giving you the details of the final scene, let me tell you that those weren't tears of sadness or despair. We cried for the promise and grace and beauty of the actual passion of Jesus Christ. All Christians should be able to shed those kinds of tears more often.

107-104-101.

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That pattern came to a halt with my screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."Finally, Hollywood has produced a film that lives up to the headlines, fervor and high expectations. I was given the opportunity to see Gibson's epic in a small screening facility...
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2004-00-23
Monday, 23 February 2004 12:00 AM
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