Story by: Jack Foley
FRANCE has reacted with disdain towards Mel Gibsons The
Passion of the Christ, labelling it sadistic, manipulative
and even boring.
The film opened in France on Wednesday, March 31, amid an avalanche
of controversy, having been banned from an independent cinema
chain, and triumphing in a court case presented by three brothers,
who sought to ban it completely from being shown in the country.
It also provoked a statement from a French bishops' conference,
who agreed that while it might not be anti-Semitic, it could
be used to support anti-Semitic opinions - a criticism which
marked the first official statement from the church hierarchy.
But having emerged unscathed from such tongue-lashings, it could
not impress the critics, who were mostly negative towards it.
While conservative magazine, Le Figaro, said it aimed to
make the spectator understand what Christ endured, the more
outspoken accused it of a number of things.
Weekly magazine, Nouvel Observateur, felt it is undoubtedly
the most dangerous and most violent interpretation ever made of
the Passion of Christ, while Catholic newspaper, La Croix,
said the level of violence contained in the films graphic
depiction of Christ's final 12 hours worked against its intended
It added that sadism and voyeurism were no substitutes
for Christian teaching.
Le Monde felt the film's message formed part of the worst
fundamentalist trends of the modern world, while tabloid,
France-Soir, claimed it was manipulative and aimed at guilt-ridden
The Communist l'Humanite went so far as to describe proceedings
as incredibly boring, while Liberation concluded:
"It is the marriage of Hollywood money and the reactionary
ideology of 'made in USA' Christian fundamentalism in a long video-clip
Audiences, thus far, have greeted it with a mixed reaction, but
people are going to see it.