I recieved this in an email today. Sounds like the movie will transcend it's gory reputation. WARNING: For those who hate to have movie plots given away before seeing a film, there are details included here...
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Below are Paul Harvey's stirring comments concerning
Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion of the Christ,"
due to be released
on February 25, 2004. Note that Harvey says the movie
is "a kind of art that is a rarity in life."
I really did not know what to expect. I was thrilled
to have been invited to a private viewing of Mel
Gibson's film "The Passion," but I had also read all
the cautious articles and spin. I grew up in a Jewish
town and owe much of my own faith journey to this
influence. I have a life long, deeply held aversion to
anything that might even indirectly encourage any
form of anti-Semitic thought, language or actions.
I arrived at the private viewing for "The Passion",
held in WashingtonDCand greeted some familiar faces.
The environment was typically Washingtonian, with
people greeting you with a smile but seeming to look
beyond you, having an agenda beyond the words. The
film was very briefly introduced, without fanfare, and
then the room darkened. From the gripping
opening scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the very
human and tender portrayal of the earthly ministry of
Jesus, through the betrayal, the arrest, the
scourging, the way of the cross, the encounter with
the thieves, the surrender on the Cross, until the
final scene in the empty tomb, this was not simply a
movie; it was an encounter, unlike anything I
have ever experienced.
In addition to being a masterpiece of film-making and
an artistic triumph, "The Passion" evoked more deep
reflection, sorrow and emotional reaction within me
than anything since my wedding, my ordination or the
birth of my children. Frankly, I will never be the
same. When the film concluded, this "invitation only"
gathering of "movers and shakers" in Washington, DC
were shaking indeed, but this time from sobbing. I am
not sure there was a dry eye in the place. The crowd
that had been glad-handing before the film was now
eerily silent. No one could speak because words were
woefully inadequate. We had experienced a kind of art
that is a rarity in life, the kind that makes heaven
One scene in the film has now been forever etched in
my mind. A brutalized, wounded Jesus was soon to fall
again under the weight of the cross. His mother had
made her way along the Via Della Rosa. As she ran to
him, she flashed back to a memory of Jesus as a child,
falling in the dirt road outside of their home. Just
as she reached to protect him from the fall, she was
now reaching to touch his wounded adult face. Jesus
looked at her with intensely probing and passionately
loving eyes (and at all of us through the screen) and
said "Behold I make all things new." These are
words taken from the last Book of the New Testament,
the Book of Revelations. Suddenly, the purpose of the
pain was so clear and the wounds, that earlier in the
film had been so difficult to see in His face,
His back, indeed all over His body, became intensely
beautiful! . They had been borne voluntarily for love.
At the end of the film, after we had all had a chance
to recover, a question and answer period ensued. The
unanimous praise for the film, from a rather diverse
crowd, was as astounding as the compliments were
effusive. The questions included the one question that
seems to follow this film, even though it has not yet
even been released. "Why is this film considered by
some to be "anti-Semitic?" Frankly, having now
experienced (you do not "view" this film) "the
Passion" it is a question that is impossible to
answer. A law professor whom I admire sat in front of
me. He raised his hand and responded "After watching
this film, I do not understand how anyone can
insinuate that it even remotely presents that the Jews
killed Jesus. It doesn't." He continued "It made me
realize that my sins killed Jesus"
I agree. There is not a scintilla of anti-Semitism to
be found anywhere in this powerful film. If there
were, I would be among the first to decry it. It
faithfully tells the Gospel story in a dramatically
beautiful, sensitive and profoundly engaging way.
Those who are alleging otherwise have either not seen
the film or have another agenda behind their
protestations. This is not a "Christian" film,
in the sense that it will appeal only to those who
identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ. It
is a deeply human, beautiful story that will deeply
touch all men and women. It is a profound work of art.
Yes, its producer is a Catholic Christian and
thankfully has remained faithful to the Gospel text;
if that is no longer acceptable behavior than we are
all in trouble. History demands that we remain
faithful to the story and Christians have a right to
tell it. After all, we believe that it is the
greatest story ever told and that its message is for
all men and women. The greatest right is the right to
hear the truth.
We would all be well advised to remember that the
Gospel narratives to which "The Passion" is so
faithful were written by Jewish men who followed
a Jewish Rabbi whose life and teaching have forever
changed the history of the world. The problem is not
the message but those who have distorted it
and used it for hate rather than love. The solution is
not to censor the message, but rather to promote the
kind of gift of love that is Mel Gibson's filmmaking
masterpiece, "The Passion."
It should be seen by as many people as possible. I
intend to do everything I can to make sure that is the
case. I am passionate about "The Passion."
You will be as well. Don't miss it!