Cultural Revolutions

The Passion

Mel Gibson’s movie “on the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life” has stirred up all sorts of passions among interested observers the world over.  The Passion, directed by Gibson and produced by Gibson’s film company, Icon Productions, is scheduled to be released sometime during the Lenten season of 2004.  The goal of this ambitious project, funded almost entirely by Gibson, a traditionalist Catholic, and (this phrase sounds bizarre, no matter how you intone it) starring James Caviezel as Jesus, is nothing short of evangelism.  “It’s about changing lives and changing hearts,” Gibson told the National Catholic Register.  And, in an interview with Christian editorialist Holly McClure, he added, “My hope is that this movie has a tremendous message of faith, hope, love, forgiveness and a message of tremendous courage and sacrifice.  My hope is that it will affect people on a very profound level and somehow change them . . . ”

Mr. Gibson, known to be a director obsessed with getting the details right (which won him an Oscar for Braveheart), has sought verisimilitude through graphic depictions of the suffering and brutal death of Christ (a vivid description of which the New Testament leaves out).  Sparing no expense, he has employed new special-effects technology to show the cat-o’-nine-tails tearing through the flesh of the...

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