Wednesday, February 18, 2004

First Things on The Passion of the Christ: two thumbs up

The March issue of First Things arrived today, and in it, Russell Hittinger (Catholic Studies prof at the U. of Tulsa) and Elizabeth Lev (Christian art and architecture prof at Duquesne's Rome campus) write approvingly of Gibson's movie. A couple of items:

Hittinger and Lev argue that although there are elements of the film which do not come from the Gospel narratives, none of the additions violate the narratives. Addressing the question of the influence of Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich, they write, "the question of how much of this imagery was inspired by Emmerich's visions is inessential, for such imagery and ideas about in traditional Christian liturgy, hymnody, and iconography."

They also argue that the film is something in the vein of the medieval passion plays. The movie, they claim, is "nearly the opposite of the arcane and politically fraught tradition of the passion play. [...] Gibson denies the audience any shred of political or religious triumph, or, for that matter, defeat. [...] It is hard to imagine anyone coming out of Gibson's movie with an appetite for a religiously politicized passion. If anything, this is the definitive post-passion-play passion."

Their conclusion: this is "the best movie ever made about Jesus Christ."

Between this article and Gibson's interview Monday night, I'm very excited to see the film.

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