Story by: Jack Foley
THE first UK review of Mel Gibsons The Passion of The Christ
has labelled the film an incredibly violent affair, which could
well provoke a backlash from the anti-violence lobby.
The film will be released in British cinemas on March 26, following
its February 25 debut in the States, and has been hounded by controversy
ever since director, Mel Gibson, announced his intention to film
it in Latin and Aramaic.
Needless to say, critics are queuing up to see it, even though
the chances of finding the film entertaining seem
remote, especially in light of the Daily Telegraphs review.
The papers critic, John Hiscock, said there is little
respite from the violence, with graphic scenes of whippings
and beatings being depicted in close-up, as Jesus' flesh is torn
and battered, and the second half of the film is almost
entirely devoted to the crucifixion.
There are flashbacks, to a time when Jesus worked as a carpenter,
or lectured his disciples, but, according to Hiscock, such respites
are all too brief.
His review can best be summarised by the line: "For, worthy
and serious as Gibson's treatment may be, his blood-drenched depiction
of the final hours of Jesus' life is harsh and brutal, dwelling
almost entirely on pain, suffering and torment."
As such, the anti-violence brigade may take just as much interest
in it as church officials and Jewish groups, the latter of whom
have raised fears that it could provoke anti-Semitism.
Gibson, however, maintains that the film is not marketed towards
children, and remains an accurate and honest depiction of the
last 12 hours of Christs life - even though he has been
forced to cut some of the most extreme moments because of the
criticisms surrounding them.
Hiscocks review also mentions a number of scenes in which
Gibson employs artistic licence, including a nod to
drunken Romans sharing a joke, and Judas being chased by children,
before he decides to take his own life.
And he predicts that adults are likely to have problems
with the vivid depictions of pain and violence, making it
difficult to know who would want to see it.
He does conclude, however, by noting that American audiences
seem more comfortable with violence than sex on screen, and believes
the controversy surrounding it will help Gibson to recoup the
personal millions he has spent on it.
l In yet more related news, lead
actor, Jim Caviezel - whom Hiscock credits with giving an impressive,
dignified performance - has also leapt to the films
defence, by stating that any attempt to label it as anti-Semitic
could not be further from the truth.
"He wanted to make this film very Semitic," he says,
in an interview with Newsweek. "I believe that when all my
Jewish brothers see this film, they will realise that it's not
about assigning blame. It's about love. It's about sacrifice.
It's about forgiveness and hope."
Caviezel spent 15 days filming the crucifixion scene and had
to endure his own physical and spiritual ordeal, separating his
shoulder during shooting and suffering from exposure.
But he claims the experience has deepened his faith, by helping
him to connect to a place I could have never, ever gone.
He added: "I don't want people to see me. All I want them
to see is Jesus Christ."