popcorn with that?

By Leila Marie Lawler (articles ) | Dec 11, 2003

Now that advance tickets are on sale for Mel Gibson's Passion, my unease with the whole project -- and I'm not talking about antisemitism -- is becoming more palpable. I don't think I'm alone. I was excited to find out that a classmate of my daughter's (a junior in high school) is doing her thesis on the topic "Whether film is an appropriate medium for the depiction of Christ's Passion."

Interesting question. What do you think?

Some points to ponder (and you may have more):

Is a movie theater, with its atmosphere of comfort, soda, popcorn, and extra-large candy boxes, the right place for what has certainly been touted (by other than its critics) as a devotional film?

A painting of Christ on the Cross, or Christ mocked by soldiers, is a moment in time, separate from the viewer. A film extends over time, drawing the viewer in with a certain loss of identity -- something we've all experienced when we have hardly noticed the fleetingness of the two or three hours we've spent in the theater. Is it good for us to be swallowed up in this way with this subject material?

I found Braveheart strange -- wallowing in violence and gore. What will Gibson do with the violence of the Passion? Is violence the whole point of what Christ suffered? Can one become satiated with violence? Would that be a good thing in this case?

Is the Passion too holy to be given Hollywood treatment? Or is it a story that must be told, and since people don't read and don't go to church, but they do go to movies, this is the only way? Is Gibson making the Passion into entertainment, or using entertainment as an instrument in the service of the Gospel?

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Dec. 11, 2003 10:27 PM ET USA

    Blood and gore? Pardon my polemical tone, however, in a country where 40 million babies have been aborted to date, I believe that an up close depiction of the Passion will do wonders for those contemplating abortions at abortion clinics throughout North America. There is more going on here than meets the eye. Pray that we not pluck it out prematurely.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 11, 2003 8:52 PM ET USA

    Comments by those who have seen this film have all been positive, Crucifixion was violent.Those viewing the film only thought of how much Jesus loved us to be able to endure the agony of the cross. I predict that there will be a great revival after this film hits the theater. Years of "Sanitized" crosses have led us to forget the real agony. The few accounts in the bible haven't help.Crucifixion was reserved for only the worst of criminalsThe Apostles may have been too ashamed to write about it

  • Posted by: Brennan - Dec. 11, 2003 7:53 PM ET USA

    Movies will be shown in theaters, so can't do much about that. We should be swallowed up with this subject material. If it's good, it can help us realize what Jesus' suffered in a way that words alone cannot. Braveheart had action, but I certainly did not think it wallowed in violence and gore. It was the message of a life lived without compromising that was so attractive. I seriously doubt the film will be mere "entertainment" or that it will be given the "Hollywood treatment."

  • Posted by: - Dec. 11, 2003 5:13 PM ET USA

    I agree, lets see the film first. I have seen an interveiw of Mel Gibson on ewtn and I think I will give him the benefit of the doubt. Please read The Delorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich. It might help answer some of your questions and it is reportedly one source of inspiration Mr. Gibson used for the film.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 11, 2003 12:51 PM ET USA

    This isn't the first time a movie that depicted Christ's passion or the events of the Bible has been made by Hollywood. But it has been awhile since they were treated so respectfully. The question of whether this is the medium is as strange as the iconoclasts of the middle ages who thought statues and paintings weren't the medium for depicting holy things. So in the first case, the question is a bit late in coming. In the second, it strikes of a weird sort of proto-Protestantism.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 11, 2003 10:45 AM ET USA

    Why don't we all take a breather, get our advance tickets, see the film and, then, then, offer our pieces of unique wisdom. This is all like debating the nature of heaven.