Loud Applause for Mel Gibson's New Film "The Passion" is Awakening Deaf Ears in Hollywood -- A Resounding Bravo for Mel !

Mel Gibson has stirred up both resounding praise and strident criticism for his new film "The Passion." Strangely, the criticism comes mostly from critics who have not even seen the movie but were basing their attacks on an old draft version of the script. Criticism of that type is a very weird first for Hollywood. It reflects a shocking closed-minded attitude from a "creative community" that generally proclaims its right to produce controversial films with "real life impact."

Mel's critics appear to led by the Anti-Defamation League who are concerned about the possibility of the film inspiring attacks on the Jewish community. With all due respect to the ADL, I must strongly disagree.

Mel Gibson is an excellent director and does not have an antisemitic bone in his body. He is a devout Roman Catholic. His work on "The Passion" appears to have been inspired by regular daily prayer and his own study of the Bible. There is no doubt that Jesus was Jewish; that is a historical fact. Many Catholic Priests even include brief readings from the Hebrew Torah in their sermons because they read and speak Hebrew. Rabbis are invited regularly to speak at Mass or other Christian services across America. The primary cause of violence against Jewish people today comes from Muslim fundamentalists and not the Christian community.

But there are new signs that the film is awakening deaf ears and exciting the public generally.

Harry Knowles runs the AintItCool.com film web site. He features insider reports on films and the film industry and draws millions of visitors each month. On July 11th he posted this brief report the "The Passion:"

Once every now and again a really special project comes along borne out of a passion for the material. We've seen Peter Jackson's passion really come through with his LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy thus far, and well... I've got a feeling that Mel Gibson has that same sort of drive in the making of THE PASSION. While I'm not a deeply religious person, I can not help, but acknowledge the ingrained power to the story of Christ's final hours. Simply, as one film called it, it's the greatest story ever told, or at least one of them.

The story of Christ in those final hours is one of pain and torment and astonishing spirit. From the images in this trailer that was sent to me, I can't help but believe in Mel's vision for the film. Shot in the original language of the time and allegedly being shone sans subtitles, I really feel this is not only powerful filmmaking, but a bold artistic step forward for Mel. I also feel that it has the chance to really become a bit of a phenomenon in theaters that play it, and can't believe it hasn't been picked up by a studio yet. I mean, the story behind the making of this film in its original "dead" languages and the opportunity to have Mel Gibson on every talk show in the world talking about the decisions and reasons he had for making the film this way... Well, I think it has a wider audience than anyone is currently expecting. Here's the trailer that was sent to me... See what you think, though 10 to 1, it will crash my server, so be quick!

By all accounts it was impossible to get through on that link for several days. I know because I attempted to hit it myself. Ten times over a period of two days. Finally I located an alternative link and viewed the trailer for myself. The best word to describe the preview is "AWESOME!" . . .

There appears to be widespread swelling interest in Gibson's new project. The Top Rated Film Review Site in the U.K. just said "The Passion" is a "Must Not Miss This Film Pick!" There is a film photo collection available on HollywoodJesus.com which is worth viewing. The Internet is simply buzzing about the very strong reviews Mel's Passion is receiving.

Movie fans all over the world are showing genuine interest in "The Passion." They are beginning to have an impact on Hollywood. There are rumors that Gibson will soon announce he has found a major distributor for his film.

In the meantime, religious leaders and theologians have lined up to support the project. Fr. Michael Reilly published a report in SeaMax News critical of Catholic theologians for saying basically that Gibson was "following the Bible too closely." Julia Duin wrote an op-ed piece for The Washington Times quoting religious leaders who had actually seen the film. I quote an excerpt from her commentary:

Rob Brendle, the associate pastor at New Life [Church] * * * calls the film "very positive" and says "we are confident the film is true to the Scriptures," a reference to charges by Jewish groups that Mr. Gibson, 47, has included extrabiblical and anti-Semitic elements in the two-hour film.

Paul Lauer, director of marketing for the film, says various religious leaders have been quietly making their way to Los Angeles in recent weeks to view "The Passion." One fan is Bishop Charles J. Chaput of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, who defended the movie in the Denver Catholic Register.

"I find it puzzling and disturbing that anyone would feel licensed to attack a film of sincere faith before it has even been released," the archbishop wrote.

"When the overtly provocative 'The Last Temptation of Christ' was released 15 years ago, movie critics piously lectured Catholics to be open-minded and tolerant. Surely that advice should apply equally for everyone," he said.

Others have joined in applauding the film. A very positive review of the film appeared on NewsMax.com and reports truthfully "Mel Gibson Shakes Up Hollywood."

Another religious leader who has praised the film is Don Hodel, president of the Focus on the Family. Quoting briefly from a report that appeared on TheDenver Channel.com recently:

I was very impressed," added Don Hodel, president of Focus on the Family. "The movie is historically and theologically accurate."

Gibson financed the $25 million film, co-wrote the script and directed and produced the movie, which stars James Caviezel as Christ. The film was shot in the Aramaic language of the time, but subtitles were in place during Thursday's showing.

Gibson said he attended Mass every morning during filming because "we had to be squeaky clean just working on this."

"It was a strange mixture of the most difficult thing I've ever done, along with this incredible ease," Gibson said. "Everyone who worked on this movie was changed. There were agnostics and Muslims on set converting to Christianity."

Many people will be horribly surprised or even shocked by the scourging that Jesus suffered. He was flogged with whips by Roman soldiers. Those whips contained tiny iron barbs that were designed to inflict wounds on human flesh. That is historical truth and it is not pretty.

Agnostics and Muslims being converted to Christianity? Perhaps the true graphic representation of Christ's suffering is really too powerful for movie viewers today?

I believe that people today thirst for the truth. Let them see the truth with their own eyes. "The truth will set you free."

Update for July 24th: As first predicted by NewsPundit.net on July 18th, Mel Gibson has a major distributor. 20th Century Fox has inked an option on distribution rights according to Carl Limbacher

Posted by Douglas Oliver on July 18, 2003 at 8:10 AM
Updated on July 21st at 2:14 PM

More Very Positive Reviews for Mel Gibson's "The Passion":

View the Trailer for Mel Gibson's New Film "The Passion"

Australian Exhibitors Rally Around Gibson's Passion

Film Inspires Christian Soul Searching Not Anti-Semitism

Gibson has an "Awesome Artifact, Overpowering Work"

Fan's Great Web Site Has an "Official" Look

"Antisemitic?" . . . Not ! . . A Great Review

Michael Medved's Take on "The Passion

Buried in NYT Review: "Gibson is the Michelangelo of this Generation"

What's Liberal About Judging Mel's Film Before It's Release?

Don't Believe Media Reports Critical of "The Passion"

"The Passion Revisited"

Drudge: "Total Tears . . It's Magic . . It's a Miracle"

Joseph Farah Praises Mel Gibson's "The Passion"

The Greatest Story Newly Told (Very Early Review)