Just Above Sunset
March 28, 2004 - Mel Will Not Go Away
See Has ‘The Passion’ caused miracles?
Some fans of “The Passion of the Christ” claim that the Mel Gibson flick has caused miracles — and
now a documentary is in the works to prove it.
I’m not sure what to say.
Here’s a note from France regarding Hollywood. Mel is not welcome in Paris?
This from the Hollywood
Reporter - that’s the trade newspaper out here, not me. And they are
somehow associated with Reuters. I am not.
PARIS (Hollywood Reporter) - One of France's leading independent cinema groups has refused to program Mel Gibson's
"The Passion of the Christ," which it has branded "fascist propaganda."
Well that’s not nice.
Of course, my acerbic friend in Paris, Emma, had to comment…
MK2 could probably do with some extra money in the coffers and free publicity so Karmitz has probably done the right thing for his company if he thinks this is the trick - not to show Passion… though considering some of the other films they have shown in the last few years at MK2 salles whilst I have been in France I think Karmitz is probably an old blowhard.
As for the film Passion, I really do think Mel is "two sandwiches short of a picnic" and should be locked away with all other religious fanatics of one kind or another. The world would be a better place without religion in all its entirety - ,mand this comes from a part-timing Scottish protestant!
Ah, it’s all marketing, one way or the other.
My friend Ric Erickson of MetropoleParis says this:
Gibson's 'Passion' opens here on Wed 31. March, according to
posters that have suddenly sprung up. For this, I will watch the
Next week we’ll see what he finds.
Over at Figaro Magazine this weekend there’s already a whole raft of stuff –
You get the idea… The network Arte does a special, and the madness begins…
Over at Le Nouvel Observateur you get this - Jésus et les juifs
Of course, over the New York Review of Books Garry Wills has some really interesting things to say.
See God in the Hands of Angry Sinners for that.
Wills seems to be reviewing two things - The Passion of the Christ, this a film directed by Mel Gibson. And he has lots to say about Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner (Free Press, 353 pages).
On the film?
If you relish the sight of a healthy male body being systematically demolished, beyond the farthest reach of plausible endurance, The Passion of the Christ is your movie. It is not simply the scourging scene that is at issue, though that deals out an unspecified number of stripes—more than sixty and still counting, half of them inflicted by whips that have been made into multiple-hook tearing instruments. Even earlier, at the arrest of Jesus, he is chained, beaten over and over, thrown off a bridge to crash below. He arrives at his first legal hearing already mauled and with one eye closed behind swollen bruises. From then on, he is never moved or stopped without spontaneous blows and kicks and shoves from all kinds of bystanders wanting to get in on the fun. On the way to execution, he is whipped while fainting under the cross. A soldier says to lay off or he'll never make it. But the crowd just keeps whipping and beating him all the rest of the way.
My wife and I had to stop glancing furtively at each other for fear we would burst out laughing. It had gone beyond sadism into the comic surreal, like an apocalyptic version of Swinburne's The Whipping Papers.
Swinburne? Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) – that guy? Cool. Swinburne was an odd duck. Well, there seems to be a small percentage of British men who liked being spanked. These blokes find it arousing. Funny, I never thought of Mel Gibson like that, but that works. Actually, it makes everything fall into place, doesn’t it?
But back to religion, not the odd sexual yearnings of Algernon and his friends.
Wills adds this, wondering just how this film gets people all hot for Christianity -
In Gibson's film the union of the divine and human in Jesus is not explored or explicated. He is just a sponge for punishment. Which makes one wonder why so many call their viewing of the film a conversion experience. From what, or to what, are they being converted? From Christianity to philoflagellationism? Some fear that the real conversion will be to anti-Semitism, but Gibson says that he cannot be anti-Semitic because he killed Christ himself. All sinners did. To emphasize the point, he publicized that the hand in the film holding the first nail driven into Christ's palm is Gibson's own.
But as we sinners watch the killers in this movie—the insane glee of those plotting against Jesus, lying about him, beating him, demanding his death, inflicting his death—do we really feel that they are our surrogates? We might, because of our sins, feel that we should empathize with them, but we cannot actually do so—the manipulation of the situation does not allow for that. With whom, then, are we to empathize—with Jesus, not so much because of our being saved by him as by our undergoing pain and humiliation with him?
Certainly Gibson feels that empathy. He told Rachel Abramowitz of the Los Angeles Times: "I'm subjected to religious persecution, persecution as an artist, persecution as an American, persecution as a man.”
Oh heck, you can hear Mel asking to have his naked, quivering ass slapped one more time in public, can’t you? He longs for it.
I don’t get it, but many of us are into other things. Who are we to judge?
The rest of the Wills item reviews Catholic theological history and how Gibson comes from an odd offshoot of Catholicism. Click on the link for everything you ever wanted to know about The Legion of Christ and Opus Dei and their relationship to Vatican II and Gibson, and Gibson’s father’s views on all that.
Or don’t. It’s rather complex.
But I live in Hollywood. Now and then you run into celebrities. Should I see Mel at Beverly Center or down on Sunset Plaza, and he has an odd gleam in his eye, I’ll cross to the other side of the street. I’ll think of Algernon Charles Swinburne and steer clear.
This issue updated and published on...
Paris readers add nine hours....