The International Writers Magazine: Readers letters March 26th
Letters to James Campion
to the overwhelming response to last months two part columns on
"The Passion of the Christ" (a record for this space - and
thats saying something) we needed two more weeks to provide ample
equal time. The following are responses to the films review.
Thanks for the review...well written and oh-so informative. Probably
very accurate as well (I ain't gonna pay into this one ... I'll
get a pirate copy some time ... or, in fact, if there isn't any
history in it, I'm not interested). Ah, yes, something I wanted
to mention. Years ago, I read Phillip Roth's THE COUNTERLIFE -a
very bad book with one good line:
(On the Holocaust) "Christians ask us when we are going to
forget out six million martyrs; we want to know when they are going
to forget their one."
This is a paraphrase, not a quote.
Your loathing for Catholic values, not withstanding, I pained to do
it, but agreed totally on your assessment that if not for the phony
trumped up controversy of "The Passion" - controversy? Jesus
Christ dies on the cross and rises up. What havent we seen before
a hundred times? Gibson is overrated as a filmmaker. This thing just
stunk, and as a Catholic and a father, I would NEVER take any kid to
see it. What? Are parents nuts?
As much as we would love to delve into Christ's spirituality, there
really isn't too much to go on. We know he was born, we know at about
the age of 8 he was found by his parents in the synagogue talking to
the elders but after that we hear of no teen-age Christ, we hear nothing
of a "twenty-something" Christ. In the scripture's he goes
from an 8-year old boy to a 33 year-old "savior". Any speculation
beyond the New Testament is just that: speculation. We know how he felt
from the writings of the gospel and we know of his deeds but if we were
to get into "spirituality" it would have to be an exercise
in creativity as there are no definitive writings of Jesus himself.
Many Christians hold onto the crucifixion and the resurrection because
outside of that there is really not that much else to go on. Outside
of a few miracles, a few teachings and the Sermon on the Mount, Christians
don't have a whole lot more to go on.
Please understand that because of the limited knowledge of Christ, when
you go too far in trying to understand or explain Jesus, you end with
this or in a worst case scenario, The Last Temptation of Christ, an
absolutely horrible, despicable film. Give Mel a break on this, he did
what any other film maker has done, put his own interpretation on a
historical event and showed it the way he saw it.
I just have one question, if this film slammed Jesus or showed Jesus
getting a blowjob, would the critics be as pissed or would they consider
the film "artful" or "introspective"? I think we
know the answer to that one and it's a damned shame.
Bill Roberts Jc,
My favorite "reasoning fallout" from Gibsons windfall
production is by millions of people flocking to see it that somehow
vindicates Christian dogma. So, I guess that means millions going out
to see "Dude, Wheres My Car" or "Independence Day"
bolsters the asinine drugged-out moron and the anti-alien lobby.
Whats next: The overwhelming popularity "My Big Fat Fiancée"
For me, "Jesus of Nazerath" with "Tommy's" dad is
still number one in the Jesus movie department, lots of Zeffarelli moments
of stunned faces and meaningful glances, with Max Von number two (In
that one I remember Chris McCullum as Judas first putting a noose around
his neck THEN diving into the fire pit. What the?) Mike York was also
good as the Baptist and of course Chuck did a fine bit as well (You
hear his scream get cut off as his HEAD DOES "Repent! Herod, its
your only chance! "Re-" CHOP! Dafoe was miscast, the movie
Superstar dude sucked (Ted Nealy?), especially in comparison to the
vocals of Gillan, perhaps rock's GREATEST singer for pure screamability
while staying in tune! As you said, the Godspell guy was gay, and the
later Jesus movies on TV have all been crapcity, NOT craptacular by
God bless Mel Gibson. He has taken the normal parade of Hollywood trash
and blessed it with a new vision. I applaud his courage. And as an author
of the subject matter, you should too. At least people are speaking
about it. Debating it. This has to be better than the usual muck. I,
for one, am proud to be a Christian today.
I really enjoy your work, and try and read it every week, but throwing
your opening statement that "The Passion of The Christ" was
"not a film about Jesus, but a film about Catholicism" struck
me as a profundity in a rather obvious way, really. I mean, most films,
like novels or poems or whatever creative outlet does involve subtext
in some way or the other.
Its like saying "Raging Bull" is not a film about boxing,
its about failure or "American Beauty" is not a film
about a dumb middle-aged guy falling for a teen queen, it is about unfulfilled
dreams or whatever. The agenda is always in the hand of the artist.
And, of course Gibson feels it his duty to impart his beliefs at this
time not unlike Sidney Lumets fine film, "Network" being
his manifesto or "JFK", which you mention in your piece, being
So I guess I would ask when is a film about something when it really
is about something else? And my answer would be "All The Time!"
Take religion out of the equation and Gibsons film is no less
sensationalistic than "Scarface". Good call.
Belief is belief. Whats not to get?
Passion of The Christ see what it's about here
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