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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?

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