Comment: Rethinking The Passion in light of Gibson’s folly

YOU MAY have heard about a little incident involving Mel Gibson, a speeding car, an open bottle of booze, and some racist and sexist remarks in late July.

For some people, the incident proved what many had been saying for at least three years, namely that Gibson is an anti-Semite, and that the controversial movie he made about the death of Jesus, The Passion of the Christ, is anti-Semitic.

But is it as simple as that? There are several issues tangled up in this story, and each one needs to be addressed separately.

First, it is dangerous to define a person by the sins with which they struggle.

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Top Ten Jesus Movies

They’ve been making films about the Son of God for over a century. Here’s one man’s list of those that ascend to the top of the cinematic pack.

Of the making of movies about Jesus, there is no end. In the first three months of this year alone: Son of Man, which casts a black man as Christ and sets his life in modern South Africa, got positive reviews at Sundance; the makers of Color of the Cross, which also casts a black man as Christ, established a website with trailers for their work-in-progress; and New Line Cinema announced that Oscar nominees Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) and Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog) will star as the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth in a new movie about the Nativity, to be released in time for Christmas.

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Comment: The Passion is more complex than critics, supporters may admit

EVERYTHING you know about The Passion of the Christ is wrong. For over a year, the film’s most vocal critics have said Mel Gibson’s movie about the death of Jesus is anti-Semitic, while its most vocal supporters have said no, it’s only an accurate representation of scripture and history. In truth, the film is neither.

First, the charges of anti-Semitism. It is true that Gibson’s film tends to divide the Jewish race into those who follow Christ and those who try to have him killed; and it is true that The Passion, like many other films in this genre, is too soft on Pontius Pilate (in contrast to the callous, vicious figure portrayed by Luke and Philo), which has the unfortunate effect of making the Jews seem just that much more responsible for Jesus’ death.

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Comment: Passion ‘softened’, and John comes to the screen

IS MEL Gibson yielding to criticism over his death-of-Christ movie The Passion? In some ways, it seems he might be.

Earlier this year, Gibson told reporters Holly McClure and Raymond Arroyo in on-the-set interviews that his film made significant use of the visions of Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th-century stigmatic nun. He even cited his seemingly accidental discovery of The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a published record of her visions, as a sign that he had been specially called to make his film.

But after Jewish and Catholic scholars expressed concern over the allegedly anti-Semitic contents of Emmerich’s visions, Paul Lauer, the director of marketing for Gibson’s production company, denied that Gibson had based his film on them.

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