More on the Passion

March 5, 2004 | 10 comments
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Greg Easterbrook has a great comparison of Gibson’s Passion with Frano Zepherelli’s Jesus of Nazareth. I am a huge Zepherelli fan and I quite liked Jesus of Nazareth, although I haven’t seen The Passion. Easterbrook’s conclusion is that the Zepherelli’s is a better movie because it has more narrative and characterization and sticks more closely to the Gospels. Easterbrook writes,”The Christ story is among the most compelling ever told, yet directors can’t resist adding invented characters who are unnecessary.” The same can be said of the Church’s recent film Testaments, which is supposedly about the Book of Mormon, but as near as I can tell does not contain a single Book of Mormon character or story.

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10 Responses to More on the Passion

  1. tyler durden on March 5, 2004 at 2:12 pm

    wasn’t jesus a character in the book book of mormon?

  2. lyle on March 5, 2004 at 2:24 pm

    Nate, you are absolutely right. There are 0 BoM characters in the Testaments [other than Christ] who have speaking parts. This strikes me as odd too, given that we know the names if nothing else, of at least 2, maybe 3 of the 1000s that were there. And Nephi the Prophet/Chosen apostle certainly has a history that could have been drawn upon. Hm…

  3. Matt J on March 5, 2004 at 2:51 pm

    I also like Jesus of Nazareth, and would certainly say that it is a better movie about the life of Jesus. However, Gibson’s movie is appropriately titled the Passion of Christ and doesn’t pretend to portray his entire life. It’s like the difference between a movie about early Mormon history and one solely about the day of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. You’re going to get a different tone. Gibson covered in 2 hours what other movies may have done in 30 minutes. Some things will need to be embellished given that there are only a few chapters in the gospels about the events. It certainly is creative license that Gibson emphasized the physical torture of Christ, but it seems he did this as an approximation to the spiritual suffering, which cannot so easily be shown. Having said that, there are some emotionally/spiritually powerful movies that do not resort to so much violence…

    As long as we’re sharing reviews, here is an interesting one from the Rabbi of my officemate. It addresses the concern of anti-Semitism in a thoughtful way. I find it unfortunate that Gibson felt so defensive about charges of anti-Semitism. Some problems could have been avoided with a reply like, “The movie isn’t anti-Semitic or intended to be so, althought I understand that some people could use the story to promote their anti-Semitism. I urge everyone to realize that those who sought the life of Jesus lived 2000 years ago and it is ridiculous to target anyone living today as being liable.”

  4. Matt J on March 5, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    Here is the Rabbi’s review:

    http://www.herzl-ner-tamid.org/passion.htm

    How do I get my HTML markup to ‘stick’ when I post?

  5. Russell Arben Fox on March 5, 2004 at 3:06 pm

    It’s “Zeffirelli,” not “Zepherelli.”

  6. Charles on March 5, 2004 at 3:49 pm

    Matt –
    Good point on the use of torture at the hands of the Romans parallel his spiritual suffering. More could have been done in the Garden of Gethsemne, but I felt that Gibson’s additions did not detract from the spirit of the story.
    I also liked the inclusion of Satan as a character. It really helps to create a dialogue as aopposed to a sililoquy and helps the viewer better understand what was going on in some points. I would love to see what Gibson could do as a “prequel” by doing something about Christ’s ministry wtih maybe a flashback scene to his birth. But unless he felt compelled by the spirit to do so, I don’t think it would be as good as this film.

  7. Scott on March 5, 2004 at 7:41 pm

    Easterbrook should curb his mockery of Gibson for including “the imagined wife of Pilate.” According to Matthew 27:19, “When [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” Gibson depicts Pilate’s wife tossing and turning in troubled sleep, then advising her husband to release Jesus. Gibson does go beyond the scriptural record with her character (and many others). But she is not, pace Easterbrook, an “invented character.”

    Scott

  8. Ady Hahn on March 5, 2004 at 10:50 pm

    I also did not like how Easterbrook said Mel made the resurrection scene short because it was not sadistic enough. Um, ok. Like Easterbrook knew Mel’s motivations behind that scene. He’s a mind reader or something.

    I didn’t like that scene at first because I would have liked to have a longer scene with perhaps Christ standing outside the tomb looking across the garden, but that’s my artistic interpretation. The more I thought about the ending, the more I liked it because it suggested action, movement, almost like a prelude to a sequel where Christ continues the battle into the latter days. Gibson, who is playing this movie to a Christian crowd that already knows the story, lets your mind fill in the rest.

  9. Matt Evans on March 6, 2004 at 12:42 am

    I was too disctracted by the anorexic and femine Jesus in Zepherelli’s *Jesus of Nazareth* to enjoy the movie. (Granted, I saw it in seminary at age 17.)

    Gibson shows Jesus as I imagine carpenters looked 2000 years ago: strong, lean and sinewy.

  10. Jim F. on March 6, 2004 at 4:01 am

    Russell, surely you did not just now notice that NO has great difficulty with spelling.

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