The Passion of the Christ — the review’s up!

The Passion of the Christ — the review’s up! January 30, 2007

My review of The Passion of the Christ: Definitive Edition, which comes out on DVD today, is now up at CT Movies.

CT Movies has also posted a list of “The 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2006.” As one of their critics, I took part in the voting and submitted a paragraph on one pick of mine that did not make the final list. The “top ten” list proper comes out next week.

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  • EV

    I see that you picked Ushpizin as your “One that got away.” I’ll never understand why CT didn’t publish a review on Ushpizin when it was released in October 2005, since it stands as a rare depiction of fervent religious devotion. The rule with such depictions–would you agree?–is either toward schmaltz or making the fervent look like nutcases. And even though the subject matter is Hasidic, there is plenty, I think, that applies to the committed Christian life, namely, the championing of a transformed human nature over form and ritual.

    As for its depiction of Ultra-Orthodox values, it also rings true. As a Christian whose had the opportunity to study with the community for several years, I recognize in the film familiar elements like chesed, lovingkindness.

    Is there a Christian film you can think of that matches Ushpizin in (1) the quality of direction/acting and (2) its sympathetic portrayal of fervent devotion to God? The Apostle is the only that comes to my mind.

    While I have the floor here, let me say something about The Passion, because I see that you speak of its “alleged anti-Semitism.” Being a Christian among the Orthodox, I certainly heard an earful in the weeks leading up to the film. Before seeing the film, I defended Gibson, thinking that it was merely the depiction of Jewish participation in the crucifixion that was bringing out the critics. But I have to say that ten minutes into the film, I was aghast. When the film was over, I left the theater thinking, “What the h–l was that all about?!” I’m not going to get into particulars, but I will maintain that the film depicted Jewish complicity in the crucifixion in a manner that was deeply offensive.

  • Re: Ushpizin, the film didn’t open in Vancouver until 2006, so that is why it qualified for my own list. I agree that its depiction of religious devotion is rare, if not unique, and also travels quite well across religious boundaries.

    Re: The Passion, I agree there are anti-Semitic elements in Gibson’s film, but I think they stem from the traditions that he uncritically incorporates into his film, rather than from anything Gibson himself puts into the film; in some places, Gibson actually purges his source material of anti-Semitic elements (compare Sr. Anne Catherine Emmerich’s version of the scene where Simon of Cyrene protests the treatment of Jesus with Gibson’s version of that same scene). So I think it would be a mistake to tarnish the film with an unqualified charge of “anti-Semitism”; it’s more complex than that.

  • Just so you know, Catholics “explaining why they no longer believe in ‘sola scriptura,'” wouldn’t do so. We’ve never believed in ‘sola scriptura.’ The very concept is not biblical.

  • We’ve never believed in ‘sola scriptura.’

    You might not have, but the ex-Protestants on the commentary track evidently did.

    The very concept is not biblical.

    Yeah, this is my favorite argument against it too — sola scriptura is essentially a self-defeating proposition.

  • Ahhhhhh, I thought, based on your review, that it was a more of a general statement about the Catholic Church and not those on the commentary. I understand now.