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Ebert and Roeper Give Gibson's Film Thumbs Up

Sunday, 22 February 2004 12:00 AM

The Chicago Sun-Times' distinguished film-reviewing duo of Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper has given Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” a pre-release boost. The pair offered an early review of the movie on their syndicated series “Ebert & Roeper.”

Sounding very much like the pope in his widely reported reaction to the film (“It is as it was”), Ebert said, “It's the only religious movie I've seen, with the exception of 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' by Pasolini, that really seems to deal with what actually happened.”

Roeper echoed Ebert's words of praise, saying, “This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film.” He added that “Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and this is the work of his lifetime. You have to admire not just Gibson for his vision and his directing abilities, but Jim Caviezel [who plays Christ] and the rest of the cast.”

Both critics recognized the central message of the film as a scriptural one.

Ebert made it clear that the movie “focuses relentlessly on the price that Christ paid for redemption and it emphasizes that Jesus wanted this to happen. His death was the instrument of his purpose, and we should be grateful to him instead of critical of those who were the instruments of his will.”

“The Gospels are the most widely read works probably in the history of civilization and the most widely misinterpreted," Roeper explained. “And people are going to be doing the same thing to this movie.”

The two also countered the much-discussed allegation that the movie has elements of anti-Semitism.

Ebert said: “I hope people will see this movie for themselves and then judge. I don't think the movie is anti-Semitic. Christ was born as a Jew, his disciples were Jewish. Yes, some Jewish priests call for his death. They're threatened by his assault on their establishment. Institutions protect their power structures. Most of the Jews in this movie are horrified by what they see.”

And Roeper pointed out that the movie “does not blame all Jews past and present for the death of Jesus and no matter what your faith, it should not be shaken or threatened by a movie, even one as intense and personal as this one.”

Gibson’s film earned Ebert and Roeper’s highest trademark rating of “two thumbs way up.”

“The Passion of the Christ” opens nationwide on Feb. 25.

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The Chicago Sun-Times' distinguished film-reviewing duo of Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper has given Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" a pre-release boost. The pair offered an early review of the movie on their syndicated series "Ebert & Roeper." Sounding very...
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2004-00-22
Sunday, 22 February 2004 12:00 AM
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