Passion Is Seen As A Movie With Potential To Cause Profound And Lasting Effects
By Michael H. Brown
By Michael H. Brown
If the intensity focused on The Passion of the Christ lasts another week or more, this will truly be a movie that has major effects. Those effects could be as varied as they are profound. Granted, it's only a movie, but it could help unite Christians. I have never seen a better possibility for popular ecumenical dialogue. We all have common ground -- and though Gibson is Catholic (a traditionalist at that), his most fervent support so far has come from Baptists, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals.
That's one potential effect. Another involves Mary. This movie presents the Blessed Mother in a way that reintroduces her to Protestants. They are able to see her as someone they can relate to. She is down to earth. They will laugh with her. They will cry with her. They'll more fully appreciate (as will everyone else) what she went through. Hopefully, they'll grow to love her.
During the Last Supper scenes, they may also gain a better understanding of the Eucharist.
A third effect is caused by the simple existence, the mere production, of this movie. Gibson has made it "cool" to be Christian. That a major Hollywood celebrity -- and a macho one at that -- would come out with such an intensely devotional film at this time in history is in itself (given our strange time) a major event. Incredible it is that movie after movie anointed by the devil -- based on evil -- can flow from Hollywood with not a peep of protest, but that this rare Christian one has sparked such controversy!
Nonetheless, the controversy has worked to the film's advantage (making it a mega-hit, at least from early indications), and it has the potential for making Hollywood rethink its approach to Christian films. What an effect that would be! At a time when a cultural war is in full swing -- when we have had to endure truly demonic productions from The DaVinci Code to Harry Potter -- here comes a huge antidote. If the juggernaut continues, it will make everyone reconsider what our culture and morals are all about. Yes, some of the violence is tough to take, at times too much, but the Holy Spirit is at work in parts of the movie -- especially in the flashbacks -- and when He is at work, the sky is the limit.
I saw the final cut on Monday and believe the experience is so personal that everyone should form his or her own opinion (without my going on at any great length). Is this how Jesus actually was? Was that really how Mary comported herself? Was the scourging really that violent?
There are some truly anointed scenes -- as when Jesus is carrying the cross. This is where the film really finds its gravity. Especially touching is a flashback of Mary picking up Jesus after He fell as a youngster -- perhaps the most touching part of the film (with music that the composer says came to him from Mary supernaturally).
But I'm no movie reviewer. I'll leave that to the pros. I'll leave that for your own discernment. Suffice it to say that it is what one Vatican official I recently spoke with, Archbishop John Foley, said: a very good movie, far better than most Hollywood fare, an excellent meditation -- one that makes us think about many things from new angles and is a beacon in the gathering dark.
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