"Once we agree with God that we exist for His pleasure and His glory, we can accept whatever comes into our lives as part of His sovereign will and purpose. We will not resent, resist or reject the 'hard things,' but embrace them as friends, sovereignly designed by God to make us like Jesus and to bring glory to Himself. "

- Nancy Leigh DeMoss
The Reviews are In!

Well today is the day! Now I know we don't need any more "Passion Posts" but maybe we could just discuss the merits of the picture here. If you want to discuss the theological ramifications, see Jared's post in the archives. I read two reviews this morning. USA Today gives it three stars and calls it "fierce and poetic". The St. Louis Post Dispatch gives it two stars. The reviewer there says, "It is p()rnographic in it's violence". The self-proclaimed Christian reviewer says she was more revolted than inspired. I guess now we will hear from the critics regarding the quality of the film. Should be interesting.

I am going today at noon. I hope to be able to give my church a personal view on the movie. I am anxious about the experience. I also have a couple of concerns:

1. I hope I don't have to break any picket lines or protesters or anything like that. I just want to go and as Bill said, "meditate" on the film and its subject.

2. On the other side of that, I hope some fanatic doesn't come in and at an opportune time start wailing his evangelistic speech. I hope I don't hear, "Repent or burn" or "The End is Near". I am also slighty afraid of some wacko bringing blood into the theater and throwing it on us all or something crazy like that(Yes, I actually think of these things).

Anyway, I will let you know what I thought but save the detailed review for Jared, who does that best.

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Comments on "The Reviews are In!":
1. Kenny - 02/25/2004 2:23 am CST

I just read the blurb from Ebert & Roper. "Two thumbs way up. A great epic film." Yea!

2. Jared - 02/25/2004 2:30 am CST

Ebert's review from the sun-times is excellent as well. He gave it four stars. I link to it from Mysterium Tremendum, but it is accessible also from his main review page at:
http://wwww.suntimes.com/ebert/ebert.html

3. Aravis - 02/25/2004 2:59 am CST

I was totally stoked by Ebert's review. He seems to really get what the movie is about. He seems to really understand the horrific nature of the crucifixion was necessary, which, from what I've read, has been the biggest complaint of the other critics. In this world movies like Natural Born Killers or Kill Bill are given vaunted praise and their ultra-violence is considered clever, etc, but a movie that accurately portrays the violence to the innocent is considered too much. It reminds me of the scripture that says the message of the cross is foolishness to the world.

4. Bill - 02/25/2004 3:45 am CST

"P()rnographic in its violence?"

Oh crud . . .

Truthfully, I'm wondering if I'm really, really going to regret seeing this. I'm not ashamed to say that graphic violence just does me in.

Will let you know what I think after viewing it tonight

5. jen - 02/25/2004 4:30 am CST

Bill, it's very disturbing. Pr0n0graphic? Wouldn't that have warranted an NC-17 or X rating? (thinking of Scarface)

6. Jared - 02/25/2004 4:34 am CST

Roger Ebert thinks the film should have earned an NC-17 and says it would have if its subject matter had been different.

Bill, I have a similar feeling of dread, and I am not near as squeamish as you about onscreen violence (I don't think). My fear is that it will be so much that it becomes deadening. Not that "so much" wouldn't be realistic. But maybe the realism could have been toned down just for the sake of making the sacrifice central, not the savagery.
I'm just sayin'. I haven't seen the film yet, so none of that is categorical or "what I think." Yet.

7. Jared - 02/25/2004 4:35 am CST

I should also mention that Ebert says its the most violent movie he's ever seen. And that's a guy who's seen more movies than just about anyone.

8. Quaid - 02/25/2004 5:32 am CST

What I can't get (having not seen the film) is that Mel said that he still felt, despite the level of violence they went to, that he didn't show the scene as it truly happened. He felt it was still more violent than he portrayed.

I'm seeing it in an hour. Maybe I'll have more to offer later on.

9. Rong - 02/25/2004 5:37 am CST

I blubbered like a girl (no offense to you women but I'm a bearded 250lbs guy who used to drive trucks for a living and I have an image to keep up :-)) at the end of Braveheart. I was so touched by Gibsons character in that movie and what he went through at the end for his faith, I really fear what a sobbing fool I'll make of myself at this movie.
Can't wait!! I just have to remember to bring a box of tissues this time.

10. Shrode - 02/25/2004 5:56 am CST

Quaid wrote:
"What I can't get (having not seen the film) is that Mel said that he still felt, despite the level of violence they went to, that he didn't show the scene as it truly happened. He felt it was still more violent than he portrayed."

What I think he meant, and if he did I agree, is this: That though this movie may be the most accurate portayal of the crucifixion ever done up to this point, it is still just a movie. The real thing is always going to be worse.

Let me illustrate:
When Saving Private Ryan came out, people talked about how it was the most accurate portayal of the WWII combat ever. Several news agencies took D-day veterans to the movie to find out if that was true or not. One remark from one vet, I'll always remember (though not verbatim). He said that he agreed. It was the most accurate portrayal of WWII combat and of D-Day that had ever been done. But there are some things a movie can't do. A movie can't duplicate the feeling of your best friend being shot next to you. Of feeling the bullets whiz by your hears. Of feeling the ground tremor with explosions. Of smelling the gunpowder. Of smelling blood, wounded flesh and dying bodies. Of screams echoing in your ears.

I never forgot that. I've elaborated some on what he said. But the principle is sound. A movie is still a movie. And no matter how realistic a portrayel, it is still just a portrayel. We can't truly duplicate the violence of the crucifixion on film.

And keep in mind that all we are seeing is the physical suffering. How do you portray the spiritual suffering on screen? You can't. Not really. And wasn't the spiritual agony Christ endured probably infinitely worse than the physical?

11. Bird - 02/25/2004 6:39 am CST

He felt it was still more violent than he portrayed.

Just from the physical side of things, I can't imagine that the film would be as bad as it really was. Even if it is the most violent film Ebert's ever seen. (With that said, I'm sure it's got to be the most violent film I'll ever see.)

I'm looking forward to my 4:30 showing (going with Sha), but I'm feeling a bit somber today.

12. alison - 02/25/2004 7:38 am CST

When Jesus said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me," that was the greatest spiritual agony of all time -- far worse, I'm sure, than the physical agony. I haven't seen it yet -- three reasons: (1) My (adult) kids have to check movies out before they let me go because I can't handle violence or confrontation; (2) I've read the book and know how the story ends; and (3) so many people are talking like I don't really love Jesus if I don't go see it that I'm just holding back for now. I probably will go eventually and I'm anxious to read your comments.

13. Blo - 02/25/2004 8:04 am CST

I saw the movie last night at a special screening for the singles at my church (of course I'm not single but, hey).

In a word the movie was, BRUTAL!

All of the things you have heard about the brutality are true. I don't think I can adequately prepare those of you (Bill?) that are taken aback by violence. There were times during the movie that I actually felt the urge to vomit (sorry to say it).

One thing to keep in mind when you see this movie - you are NOT going to see a movie about Jesus you are going to see a movie about the PASSION of Christ.

"Saving Private Ryan" has been used as an analogy (not in the comments above but in a conversation with Eric)to the violence but I think this is different. This is more like watching the D-day landing in "Ryan" for the full two hours of the movie.

If you are a Christian this movie will resonate with you, the images are haunting. If you are not a Christian this movie will raise more questions than it answers.

I hesitate to say much more about the movie since most of you have not seen it.

This is definitely a must see but be prepared for the violence.

I will see this movie again, I can't wait.

14. Kenny - 02/25/2004 8:54 am CST

Well, whatever you have read or heard WILL NOT PREPARE YOU for the violence of this movie. It is Horrifying!

I am not sure how I feel right now. I do know that I ,unlike Blo, will probably never watch the movie again unless my wife wnats to see it. That is just me.

As a believer, I am glad I watched it. But (are you ready fo this) I am unsure whether I would take an unsaved friend to the show. What Jared mentioned in comment #6 makes sense to me. I don't know...

That being said, there are beautiful aspects(the flashback scenes) and parts I thought were interesting(Satans role in the movie). As a believer, I thank God that Christ suffered for me and mourn that I will never be worthy of his suffering. It also causes me to wonder what I can do to help others know this man who died for them. There are other aspects I look forward to discussing after you all have seen the movie but, I don't know what else to say...

15. Kenny - 02/25/2004 8:58 am CST

Even after writingthat I am not sure what I mean. People will become believers I am sure as a result of the movie but it is so "heavy". I prayed before I watched it that God would use it if it was his will and that is still my prayer.

16. Jared - 02/25/2004 9:22 am CST

Kenny, interesting.
That actually leads me to the following comment, one I was coming here to make when I came across your this-just-in report . . .

Over at Evangelical Outpost, Joe listed some exerpts from critical reviews. Most of them were negative, and Joe's point in sharing them was that the secular critics just don't "get it." But one caught my eye and really resonated with me:

"'The Passion' ... is easily the most violent, blood-drenched film I have seen in years -- perhaps ever ... Churches busing youth to this movie like it's some sort of Chuck E. Cheese field trip need to think -- and pray -- long and hard about the aftershock. 'The Passion' is not kids' stuff. It is gory in the extreme, with prolonged flogging and torture scenes. One lasts 45 minutes ... For children and adults alike with tender, sensitive hearts -- the lambs, in Christian parlance -- witnessing Christ's slaughter will be like getting hit over the head. And in the gut. And across the face. Over and over and over again."
-- Lou Carlozo, Chicago Tribune

In the comment thread, plenty of visitors were following Joe's lead and taking the critics to task. And rightfully so, for the most part. But I couldn't really see what was so objectionable about Carlozo's statement. It seemed a reasonable thing to say, even if he is wrong (and I and others won't know until they see the movie).
This is the comment I left in Joe's comment thread:
I did not read the full review, but I think the quote Joe provided from Lou Carlozo is something we should take under advisement. I am a little uneasy about the apparent excitement churches have about taking young people. I know that individual reactions among youth will depend upon individual age and maturity, but I just fear for those emotionally or mentally unprepared for the carnage. (And I'm not saying it shouldn't be there; Gibson was right to make his film as accurate as he wanted to. I've been reading Martin Hengel's book Crucifixion lately, and it seems to me that Gibson's portrayal of the act may not be gruesome enough.)

But nightmares about Jesus are still nightmares. I hope Christian families will exercise proper discernment about whether their children or even teenagers should see the film.

I also got a forwarded email from Bird today written by his brother (and honorary Thinkling) Sha. In it, Sha admonished his recipients to be careful how they respond to Christians who end up not liking the movie. Gibson's film is not the fifth Gospel, after all. By all indications, it looks to be an amazing and profound work. But if some of us have negative reactions or critical views of the film, I hope others will be charitable enough not to consider that a sin.
Agreed?

17. Kenny - 02/25/2004 9:27 am CST

Great comments Jared and I agree. I implore anyone thinking about taking teens to this movie to pray about it. Not children, TEENS. It is that...difficult.

I also agree that the violence was necessary(to a point?!?!?)but it doesn't make it easier to bear.

18. Bill - 02/25/2004 9:45 am CST

I'm personally starting to weigh whether I need to see this movie or not.

19. jen - 02/25/2004 9:46 am CST

alison,

(1) My (adult) kids have to check movies out before they let me go because I can't handle violence or confrontation

My sister and I do that for our parents. That's too funny - we thought we were the only ones.

As for the rest of the comments. It is a brutal movie. And I would definitely hesitate before taking younger kids. Mel Gibson said no one under 13 should see it. I agree, unless your 13 year old is pretty mature (I think I could have handled it at 13).

I'm taking my small group girls - they're all 16+ and mature enough. I've warned them and their parents about the violence many times. All are agreed that they need to see it.

20. Kenny - 02/25/2004 9:52 am CST

I think "need to see it" is an interesting way to put it. I am not even sure why, I just do. That is the best way to put it maybe. DO you need to see it? If you answer no, and I think that is OK, than don't. It is not lightweight.

21. Bill - 02/25/2004 11:00 am CST

This is tragic:

Woman Collapses During Showing of "The Passion Of The Christ"

She died of a heart attack.

22. Kenny - 02/25/2004 12:31 pm CST

tragic

23. Bill - 02/25/2004 1:09 pm CST

My nomination of the absolute dumbest thing said about the Passion thus far - actually this is probably one of the dumbest things ever said about Jesus:

This is a quote of the Rev. Mark Sanger, from this Steve Beard column (a good column, by the way):

In their coverage of The Passion, the predictably contrarian website Salon.com turned to the Rev. Mark Stanger, one of the pastors at the trendy Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal church in San Francisco. "100 percent Hollywood trash," is how he described it. What was his advice to moviegoers? "I'd say don't bother. I think it's a big bore. I think a 5-year-old who has to get cancer surgery and radiation and chemotherapy suffers more than Jesus suffered; I think that a kid in the Gaza Strip who steps on a land mine and loses two limbs suffers more; I think a battered wife with no resources suffers more; I think people without medical care dying of AIDS in Africa suffer more than Jesus did that day. I mean, I don't want to take away from that, but this preoccupation with the intensity of the suffering, I think, has no theological or spiritual value."


Argh!

24. jen - 02/25/2004 1:37 pm CST

Argh! is right. Why on earth is that guy a Christian minister? And more importantly, how did he get ordained?

That is the most ridiculous thing I've heard yet.

25. Michael Asbell - 02/25/2004 3:14 pm CST

One thing I think needs said is that Jesus is not Lord because of the intensity of his suffering. His death was brutal; that is for sure. He was executed by one of the most horrific methods ever devised. But, the manner of his death was not unique.

Many other Jews died by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. Indeed, the gospels tell us that two other rebels were executed along side Jesus; and you can be sure they were treated no better. During civil unrest after the death of Herod the Great (4 B.C.), a Roman general named Varus crucified 2,000 men. Josephus even tells us that he lined the road from Sepphoris with them.

Many people in modern times have been tortured, brutalized, and killed in the name of a cause. I think, for one example, of the practice of "ringing" (I think that's what they called it) in South Africa. The victim was stood in a public area, had his hands tied behind his back, and then a car tire was placed around his neck. The execution began when the tire was set a blaze (usually with gasoline, I think). Sorry to paint that picture for you all. But I just want to make the point that the horrific torture in Jesus' execution was not unique.

None of the other thousands of Jews crucified by Rome were ever venerated. No one who was ever lynched, beheaded, flogged to death, or ringed was ever subsequently regarded as Savior. A martyr, maybe, but not Lord.

What makes the death of Jesus different is that he was the King of Israel. As the King of Israel, he suffered the fate at the hands of her enemies that God intended for Israel. He suffered in the place of the people of God.

Only the true King of Israel could possibly be worthy to stand in the place so many others. And who could be the true King of Israel? The New Testament teaches us that somehow Jesus was the incarnation of the living God, the Holy One of Israel. And the Son of God could not have his life taken from him unless he gave it willingly. Even as Jesus suffered the death that God’s people deserved, God vindicated his people through raising Jesus from the dead, just as he had promised he would do for Israel. By raising Jesus from death, God demonstrated that this Jesus indeed was Lord and Savior, King of Israel, and now King of all the world. That’s what makes this brutal execution different from all the others.

26. Daniel - 02/25/2004 3:46 pm CST

All I will say is what it did for me. It moved me in a very deep way. I have never really cried during a movie before. This had me on the verge of sobbing at points. Like I said, all I can say is what it did for me.

27. Bill - 02/25/2004 5:35 pm CST

Jill and I just got back.

Powerful . . .

Heart-wrenching . . .

Through it all, the one thing on my mind that made it bearable was that Jesus was in control. As He said, Pilate did not have the power to take His life. He laid it down willingly.

May He be praised, for ever and ever!

28. Bill - 02/25/2004 5:40 pm CST

Asbell,

Well said.

29. Bird - 02/25/2004 6:37 pm CST

I watched a 4:30 showing with hon.-Thinkling Sha and all I can say is that it was powerful. When I talked to Blo before the flick, he seemed a bit apprehensive to call it a "great" film. I can certainly understand why. I don't think a film like this can be considered great, or good, or even entertaining. It was, however, realistic and certainly brutal.

About the violence, I can say that it's certainly the most violence I've ever seen laid on one person in a movie. I can't say that it was more violent than Private Ryan, but I can say that it's subject matter was certainly more intense, and that gave it an extra measure of, well, weight I guess. I, too, nearly came to tears at points, but I was glad I saw it. I'm glad Gibson made it. I'm glad millions of people around the world will see how our Lord was brutally murdured because of our sins. (I'm also glad they'll see that death had no power over him, he rose from the dead!)

It's a worthy film. I think, it's in a genre all by itself. It was . . . powerful.

30. Quaid - 02/25/2004 7:03 pm CST

It's a worthy film. I think, it's in a genre all by itself.

I second this. It's hard to say that this movie deserves so many stars, or a certain number out of ten. I do know that I give it a thumbs up. I just can't compare it to anything that I've seen.

[spoiler alert] Mel Gibson did an excellent job directing this movie and hit certain points perfectly well. The last scene involving the cross made me feel as if I were the only one in the theater as eyes bored me straight through. I am guilty. Still, at the same time, I couldn't help but get excited at that point. I just kept feeling that I am now free. Because of all of this I am free.[end spoilers]

This all being said, the artistry present in this film is amazing. What impacted me most, cinematically speaking, was the cinematography, the score and the makeup. I know that we have a whole year before Oscars, but I sincerely hope this film is present when the Academy doles out the goodies. I can see a re-release at Xmas already on the way.

31. Rong - 02/26/2004 2:50 am CST

As for Jesus's physical suffering... I can't humanly dream up anything worse. But I realized a long time ago that his physical suffering was nothing in comparison to his seperation from the Father when he took upon him all of our sins. What agony that must have been to be rejected by the God who had sustained him through everything even up to that very second. That to me is the true suffering that a lot of Christians don't get.

32. SUE DYRBALA - 02/27/2004 2:33 am CST

thanks for not forgetting about me, hi to you too. how about a picture. love ya'll. sue

33. - 02/27/2004 2:42 am CST

Sue, what are you doing. Send me an email. I don't really know how to put pictures up. I will try.

34. Shrode - 02/27/2004 3:35 am CST

SUE! Hello and welcome! (For those of you who don't know Sue is a friend of the Nashville area thinklings) I haven't spoken to you in like 4 years. Keep coming back! We'd love to have your input!

35. Jared - 02/27/2004 3:53 am CST

Sue?! Sue, is that you?

Now, this makes me wonder how many friends and past acquaintances read our stuff regularly.

I always feel like somebody's watching MEEEEEE . . .

36. Bill - 02/27/2004 4:01 am CST

Sue?

Sue? Is that you?

No WAY! How have you been?!?!?! It's great to hear from you!



Oh wait - I'm not a Nashville area Thinkling . . .

Seriously, it's nice to find other FOJs (Friends Of Jared) on our blog. Welcome!

37. Michael Asbell - 03/01/2004 1:05 pm CST

Yes, that was Sue. She was looking over my shoulder and ragging on Kenny for never calling or e-mailing. So I said, "here, say something, Sue.";"0

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