Mr Wilson's review of The Passion Of Christ is the most considered and thorough I've come across.
- steve 3-09-2004 3:51 am

Thanks Steve. The film has been mentioned by Tom (some more stuff here) and Mark as well, but religion is a tough thing for us to talk about. I think spiritual matters are important, and apparently endemic to human culture, but a lot of the discussion doesn’t rise above the kind of stuff that was on prereviews (all good fun, I’m sure.) Granted, most people I know who were raised Catholic had bad reactions to it, and I was perhaps lucky not to have been indoctrinated in any faith as a child. I learned Christianity from looking at paintings, like in the middle ages (of course, mine came with academic captions.) Still, atheism is puerile, and adolescents are the great nihilists (I know I was) because we are born empty, and feel the pain of it most before we are filled up with the outside world. At least we should grow up enough to be agnostics.
That said, I’m wondering if I was really able to be objective about the film; I certainly felt some sort of pressure to dislike it, as many “serious” critics have (Roger Ebert a somewhat surprising exception.) I realize that some folks may wish to more or less boycott it, but it would be better if the discussion were actually based on experience. I’d be interested in your take as a filmmaker.
I tried not to read too much beforehand, but there was a worthwhile bit in last week’s New Yorker, a short Talk of the Town piece with Elaine Pagels, the noted historian who did the first scholarly overview of the Gnostic material from Nag Hammadi. She was mostly concerned with the historical inaccuracies by which culpability was shifted from the Romans to the Jews. This was perpetrated by the Gospel writers, and maybe exaggerated by Gibson. One interesting thing I learned while looking into the matter is that both Pilate and Caiaphas likely owed their positions to cronyism under the influence of Lucius Sejanus, the infamous praetorian who wielded power under the disaffected emperor Tiberius. All of them were probably pretty awful characters. Personally, I was almost as offended by a bit that seemed to equate Mary Magdalene with the woman taken in adultery.
And regarding giant guns, I just saw a poster for something called “Hellboy.” We’ve come a long way from the six-shooter to Dirty Harry’s magnum to this. And he's wearing a crucifix.

- alex 3-09-2004 6:21 am [add a comment]

I loved that essay, Alex. Also enjoyed Tom's gory Grünewald posts, and both your various links to art historical refrence, though I have next to no curiosity about the movie. It's a bit absurd just how many images of this one guy we westerners churn out.
- sally mckay 3-09-2004 7:41 am [add a comment]

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