After complaining here recently about Tarantino’s guarded response to a query about whether he believed in God, I must revel in his unguarded interview with John Powers of LA Weekly.
Tarantino broaches the topic by saying The Passion and the Dawn of the Dead remake are “the only things playing around right now that are terrific.” Tarantino explains:
I loved it. I’ll tell you why. I think it actually is one of the most brilliant visual storytelling movies I’ve seen since the talkies — as far as telling a story via pictures. So much so that when I was watching this movie, I turned to a friend and said, “This is such a Herculean leap of Mel Gibson’s talent. I think divine intervention might be part of it.” I cannot believe that Mel Gibson directed it. Not personally Mel Gibson — I mean, Braveheart was great. I mean, I can’t believe any actor made that movie. This is like the most visual movie by an actor since Charles Laughton made The Night of the Hunter. No, this is 15 times more visual than that. It has the power of a silent movie. And I was amazed by the fact that it was able to mix all these different tones. At first, this is going to be the most realistic version of the Jesus story — you have to decipher the Latin and Aramaic. Then it throws that away at a certain point and gives you this grandiose religious image. Goddamn, that’s good direction! It is pretty violent, I must say. At a certain point, it was like a Takashi Miike film. It got so fucked up it was funny. At one point, my friend and I, we just started laughing. I was into the seriousness of the story, of course, but in the crucifixion scene, when they turned the cross over, you had to laugh.
It should be no surprise that Tarantino managed to laugh during one of the more horrifying moments of the torture that Gibson speculates about. This is, after all, a director who induced many guilt-ridden laughs about a hitman accidentally blasting away another man’s head.
But Tarantino’s remarks are especially noteworthy because he engages The Passion as a film rather than as a religious or political tract or profit center. Like Stephen Spielberg, who said he would discuss The Passion directly with Gibson, Tarantino treats Gibson as a fellow artist. Both men refrained from public speculation, before the film’s premiere on Ash Wednesday, on whether Gibson was committing professional suicide. It’s good to see directors who still believe in artists’ freedom of expression.