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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

maybe I am the only one

By Leila Marie Lawler ( articles ) | Dec 12, 2003

Most of the comments I've received, including Dom's, on my posting on the Passion, have been along the lines of "let's see the movie before we have this discussion." I think that's inconsistent and boring! Who among us saw The Last Temptation of Christ before rejecting the idea of a movie about some blasphemous, unhistorical depiction of Our Lord's life?

Now hold on before you flip out. I'm not saying that I condemn the Passion, or that it's on the same level as that other movie. I'm saying we could discuss some aspects. (For one thing, presumably blasphemy is a spectrum, with outright lies about Jesus at one end and maybe, just maybe, some questionable interpretations, including the preeminence of physical violence in his Passion, at the other.)

For another, let's make a distinction between the general and the particular. There is the abstract question of a depiction of the passion of Our Lord and whether film is the place for it. Maybe that's a foregone conclusion, maybe not. Film is a lot different now from in the days of de Mille. People have different expectations of what their experience will be in the theater. Our threshold for violence is a lot higher, for one thing, and the ability of the special effects department to deliver realism is not to be compared with that of the past. Old movies are far more detached from the viewer. New movies are engulfing, aimed directly at the physical manipulations of the emotions, in a way that sculpture or paintings aren't, and even old films aren't. What about someone taking a child -- say, a 12 year old -- to see this movie? Would that be healthy? Would it be good? So that's one thing.

And another is the suitability of St. Mel to pull off the job, if we -- the fun folks who are having this cool conversation -- have arrived at the conclusion that it would be good to do it (a conclusion that's begged if we simply say, "wait and see the movie"). I've seen the trailer, and that's what gave me the qualms in the first place. It's SO graphic, so somber, so intense, that it made me wonder what we're in for.

I'm really not condemning the movie, and I don't have an agenda (though I am concerned with the inevitably increasing levels of intensity in all movies). I'm talking about it, wondering about it, thinking about it, examining the ideas behind it...

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