Tags: Controversy | Peaks | 'The | Passion | the | Christ' | Opens

Controversy Peaks as 'The Passion of the Christ' Opens

Tuesday, 24 February 2004 12:00 AM

The New York Daily News’ critic Jami Bernard today raged against what she called “the most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II.”

In an unusual step, the pro-Democrat tabloid made her review its lead item, at least on its Web site, with THE CRIME OF 'PASSION' as its screaming bold-face headline.

The nation’s most prominent reviewer, Roger Ebert, who occasionally uses his column in the Chicago Sun-Times and his Web site to bash conservatives and promote Democrats, gave the film his highest rating. He noted, “The libel that the Jews ‘killed Christ’ involves a willful misreading of testament and teaching: Jesus was made man and came to Earth

The violence in the R-rated picture has made many people at sneak previews realize the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice but has repelled some viewers.

“It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life,” a tearful Maritza Castro, 32, told the New York Post as she left a screening in Harlem. “I knew from the Bible that he did take a beating. I didn’t know how intense.”

Gene Habecker, 57, president of Bible Society, which gave away 8,000 tickets, expressed concern about “gratuitous violence” but hoped the movie would spark religious discussion and exploration.

Michael Griffin of Seattle, who told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer he was not religious, advised: “Go see it for yourself, but bring Kleenex. Be prepared for a lot of emotions. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in some time, whether you believe in God or not.”

A tearful Colleen Gasser told the Indianapolis Star, “It’s breathtaking to think he suffered through that for me.”

The Rev. Derek Duncan, whose church sponsored the screening Gasser attended, agreed, “The movie was difficult to watch but very powerful in terms of what Christ went through for all of us.”

New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, who

But the attacks, launched by everyone from

The Daily News said disapprovingly today, “On the eve of the Ash Wednesday opening of his much-hyped movie about the Crucifixion, Gibson predicted that all the controversy surrounding the flick would pay off handsomely at the box office.”

No, that’s not what Gibson said. The paper quotes him from his appearance tonight on Fox News Channel’s top-rated “The O’Reilly Factor”: “There’s never been anything like this before. It’s the curiosity factor more than anything. They’re saying, what is this about? You know, because a lot of people, they have no notion.”

They do now, if they can get into theaters. Newspapers from Miami to California are reporting sold-out cinemas as multiplexes scramble to add screens.

NewsMax’s James Hirsen, who watched as Gibson edited the movie and who was one of the first in the nation to see the movie,

Now that “The Passion of the Christ” is poised to get a record large audience for an R-rated, foreign-language independent movie, Gibson should send lilies to the nabobs whose natterings helped him spread the word … and the Word.

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The New York Daily News' critic Jami Bernard today raged against what she called"the most virulently anti-Semitic movie made since the German propaganda films of World War II." In an unusual step, the pro-Democrat tabloid made her review its lead item, at least on its...
Controversy,Peaks,'The,Passion,the,Christ',Opens
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2004-00-24
Tuesday, 24 February 2004 12:00 AM
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