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Wednesday, February 04, 2004
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST - ANOTHER REVIEW

I like this review. It has a visceral quality to it. Someone emailed it to me so I'm not sure where it first appeared in print.

A News Anchor's Perspective on "The Passion of the Christ"
by Jody Dean
Dallas/Ft. Worth anchor, CBS News

There have been tons of e-mails and forwards floating around recently from those who have had the privilege of seeing Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ prior to its actual release. I thought I'd give you my reaction after seeing it last [week.]

The screening was on the first night of "Elevate!” a weekend-long seminar for young people at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. There were about 2,000 people there, and the movie was shown after several speakers had taken the podium. It started around 9:00 and finished around 11:00...about two hours in length. Frankly, I lost complete track of time - so I can't be sure.


I want you to know that I started in broadcasting when I was
13-years-old. I have been in the business of writing, performing, production and broadcasting for a long time. I have been a part of movies, radio, television, stage and other productions - so I know how things are done. I know about soundtracks and special effects and make-up and screenplays. I think I have seen just about every kind of movie or TV show ever made - from extremely inspirational to extremely gory. I read a lot - and have covered stories and scenes that still make me wince. I have also seen an enormous amount of footage from Gibson's film, so I thought I knew what was coming.

But there is nothing in my existence - nothing I could have read, seen, heard, thought or known - that could have prepared me for what I saw on screen last night.

This is not a movie that anyone will "like". I don't think it's a movie anyone will "love." It certainly doesn't "entertain". There isn't even the sense that one has just watched a movie. What it is…an experience - on a level of primary emotion that is scarcely comprehensible. Every shred of human preconception or predisposition is utterly stripped away. No one will eat popcorn during this film. Some may not eat for days after they've seen it. Quite honestly, I wanted to vomit. It hits that hard.

I can see why some people are worried about how the film portrays the Jews. No, it's not anti-Semitic. What it is, is entirely shattering. There are no "winners". No one comes off looking "good" - except Jesus. Even His own mother hesitates. As depicted, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day merely do what any of us would have done - and still do. They protected their perceived "place" - their sense of safety and security, and the satisfaction of their own "rightness."

But everyone falters. Caiphus judges. Peter denies. Judas betrays. Simon the Cyrene balks. Mark runs away. Pilate equivocates. The crowd mocks. The soldiers laugh. Longinus still stabs with his pilus. The centurion still carries out his orders. And as Jesus fixes them all with a glance, they still turn away. The Jews, the Romans, Jesus' friends - they all fall.

Everyone, except the Principal Figure. Heaven sheds a single, mighty tear - and as blood and water spew from His side, the complacency of all creation is eternally shattered.

The film grabs you in the first five seconds, and never lets go. The brutality, humiliation, and gore are almost inconceivable - and still probably does not go far enough. The scourging alone seems to never end, and you cringe at the sound and splatter of every blow - no matter how steely your nerves. Even those who have known combat or prison will have trouble, no matter their experience - because this Man was not conscripted. He went willingly, laying down His entirety for all. It is one thing for a soldier to die for his countrymen. It's something else entirely to think of even a common man dying for those who hate and wish to kill him. But this is no common man. This is the King of the Universe.

What Gibson has done is to use all of his considerable skill to portray the most dramatic moment of the most dramatic events since the dawn of time. There is no escape. It's a punch to the gut that puts you on the canvas, and you don't get up. You are simply confronted by the horror of what was done - what had to be done - and why. Throughout the entire film, I found myself apologizing.

What you've heard about how audiences have reacted is true. There was no sound after the film's conclusion. No noise at all. No one got up. No one moved. The only sound one could hear was sobbing. In all my years of public life, I have never heard anything like that.

I told many of you that Gibson had reportedly re-shot the ending to include more "hope" through the Resurrection? That's not true. The Resurrection scene is perhaps the shortest in the entire movie - and yet it packs a punch that can't be quantified. It is perfect. There is no way to negotiate the meaning out of it. It simply asks, "Now, what will you do?"

The truth is this: Is it just a "movie"? In a way, yes. But it goes far beyond that, in a fashion I've never felt - in any forum. We may think we "know". We know nothing. We've gone 2,000 years - used to the idea of a pleasant story, and a sanitized Christ. We expect the ending, because we've heard it so many times. God forgive us. This film tears that all away. It's is as close as any of us will ever get to knowing, until we fully know. Paul understood. "Be urgent, in and out of season."

Go see this movie.