"The movie is biblical, powerful and potentially
life-changing." Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist
"There is no salvation for those outside the Church." The
response by Mel Gibson when asked if someone who is not Roman Catholic,
can be saved. 6
[This movie] "is going to bring the Church away from me-ology
back to theology." Adrian Rogers. 5
""The film portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish 'mob' as forcing the decision to torture and execute Jesus, thus assuming responsibility for the crucifixion."
"The film relies on sinister medieval stereotypes, portraying Jews as blood-thirsty, sadistic and money-hungry enemies of God who lack compassion and humanity."
"The film relies on historical errors, chief among them its depiction of the Jewish high priest controlling Pontius Pilate."
"The film uses an anti-Jewish account of a 19th century mystical anti-Semitic nun, distorts New Testament interpretation by selectively citing passages to weave a narrative that oversimplifies history, and is hostile to Jews and Judaism."
"The film portrays Jews who adhere to their Jewish faith as enemies of God and the locus of evil." The Anti-Defamation League. 7,8
"The Passion" chronicles the last twelve hours in the
life of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ), including his betrayal by
Judas, his trial, and his execution by the
Roman Army circa 29 to 36 CE. (The exact year is unknown and a matter of active
theological debate.) The screen play was
based on a blending of the accounts from the four canonical
Gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, with extra-biblical sources. It was released to thousands of movie
theatres across North America on Ash Wednesday, 2004-FEB-25. This is the first
day of Lent, which extends each year until Easter Sunday. In 2004, Easter falls
on the same day in both the Western Christian denominations and Eastern Orthodox
Mel Gibson co-wrote, directed, and co-produced the "The Passion."
Author Benedict Fitzgerald was also involved in the writing of the screenplay.
Gibson also financed the $25 million movie through his company, Icon Productions. "Hollywood's major studios all passed on offers to
distribute the film; New Market [Films] agreed to [d]istribute it for a fee, as
it did the sleeper hit 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'." 1
The movie gross on its first day of showing was very close to
the cost of the movie itself. It subsequently grossed US $111,500,000
during its first five days of viewing in the United States. The Passion of
The Christ was less popular, on a per-capita basis, in Canada, where it
grossed only US $ 6 million. (The population of Canada is one tenth that of the
U.S. so some observers were expecting on the order of $11 million gross). It was
the most popular movie in North America during the weekend following its
The movie has probably created more controversy
than any other movie in recent years:
Some commentators have charged that the movie is anti-semitic,
because it blames "the Jews" for the death of Yeshua. Many are
concerned that the movie may inspire a wave of violence against Jews and
criminal acts against Jewish property.
Many conservative Protestants are excited about the
potential of the movie as a powerful evangelical tool to "save"
those who have not yet been "born again."
Other conservative Protestants oppose the movie because its
director is a Catholic; they are concerned that Gibson is using the movie as
a propaganda vehicle to spread Catholic teachings.
Over time, we expect that the movie will have a major affect on
Christians' beliefs. Their grasp of the details of his arrest, trial, flogging,
crucifixion and death will probably be based more on the movie than on the
Gospels themselves. The visions of two Catholic nuns: St. Anne Catherine Emmerich
(1774-1824) and St. Mary of Agreda (1602-1665), whose visions
formed such a major part of the movie, will have a profound affect on
Christians' understanding of the events leading up to Jesus' execution.
The passion - lite version:
According to Bruce Davey., Mel Gibson's partner at Icon
Productions, "There has been quite a demand by the religious community to
bring [the film] back for Easter. And there has been a lot of discussion about
the violence. Mel wanted to try and accommodate those people by making a version
that is softer and gentler." A slightly less violent version of the movie is
being produced with five to six minutes deleted from the most violent scenes
-- particularly that of the scourging. This edition will not have an age
restriction in many jurisdictions. It is expected to run in from 500 to 750