The Passion of Gibbo
- Pardon the Australianization of the name...
Having done a fair amount of reading of and listening to responses to
Gibson's up-coming film, Jesus' parables come to mind. At least on my
understanding of Mark's presentation, Jesus began to speak in parables
because, in a deeply divided setting, they revealed the condition of his
I don't particularly want to take sides judgment is best reserved until
after viewing the finished product but it is interesting to observe the
vastly differing responses ranging from vitriolic condemnation to
enthusiastic endorsement (and this believe it or not almost from across each
of the Christian, Jewish [at least one strong endorsement of Gibson's right
to make the film and somewhat critical of charges of anti-semitism], and yes
self-confessed atheist communities).
Some of it is most perplexing: a noted Jesus scholar makes use of a stolen
preliminary script (and as anyone who knows anything about film-making knows
such scripts can and often do change a great deal) and indulges in the kind
of personal attack that would be utterly unacceptable in a scholarly setting
-- very difficult to see how this sits with the usual canons of scholarly
fairness and respect, folk that defended the Brooklyn Museum's Sensation
show (which included the notorious feces besmeared Madonna) as artistic
freedom denounce Mel as an anti-Semite, likewise others who lauded THE LAST
TEMPTATION OF CHRIST which many conservative Christians found extremely
offensive (personally I think it raised some insightful questions). A CBS
correspondent engages in a deliberate "have you stopped beating your wife"
distortion of a Mel interview. Meanwhile some scholars who happily indulge
in flights of historical fancy happily dismissing large sections of the
text, nit-pick at Mel's slightest deviation from same. On the other hand,
several self-confessed atheists and agnostics who've been to prescreenings
declare emphatically that this is not a religious film but a profound
experience and a genuinely classic not-to-be-missed movie event.
In my many decades of film watching I cannot recall off hand such deeply
divided responses that cut across so many of the usual boundaries.
Maybe, in an interestingly ironic way, Mel's film is indeed pretty close to
at least Mark's version of Jesus.