Friday, April 16, 2004

Did classes begin already? Uh-oh... I might've missed my own classes... that's not good...

.:Heard On Thursday:.

I was a guest last night for Raffy Reyes’ show, “Heard On Thursdays”. We were talking about The Passion, and it was pretty interesting how the discussion went. All in all, there were seven guests: two priests, four members of PETA, and myself. Truth be told, I was quite the odd man out, I was the only one who wasn’t too squeamish about the violence in the film, having been quite the veteran with Fudoh and Kill Bill already. That, to me, wasn’t really so big a deal. It was more guilt-inflicting to realize that whatever was happening onscreen, I was partially responsible for it as well. Ah, well.

We mostly concurred with one another, as far as the impact of the film was concerned. We all found the film good, but we figured that the impact of the film was not really so powerful as though it would spawn a new breed of anti-Semitics, unless one was already predilected to be an anti-Semitic to begin with. It could only embolden those who already were, not make new ones, really. Lots of hype and hubbub over the film, but it was pretty obvious some weren’t true. For example, Satan wasn’t really exclusively hovering around the Jews. He also did the rounds with the Romans.

We realized that being a very charged topic, the Passion cannot help but step on some politically incorrect ground. Satan as male, female, or androgynous would all have their respective backlashes from the rednecks, the females, and the homosexuals. Like Jesus Christ Superstar’s Afro-American Judas, I wouldn’t be surprised if this dialogue ended up being true…

Marcelle: We can’t avoid it at all. What if they found out that the actor portraying Judas was actually Chilean? Would they now say that they have something against Chileans?

Raffy: That’s right- but wait… Chilean?

Gay: Of all nationalities…

First one that came to mind. My bad.

Amusingly enough, I saw the film only that morning. How ironic, as the PETA members were telling me that they didn’t think so. We were of course mortified to realize how pirated the Passion was. Of all films to rip off… damn.

I especially liked the commentaries of the priests, especially Fr. Amir, when it came to the symbolisms. According to him, the raven pecking out the “bad” thief’s eyes was less of a symbol of Christ’s vindictiveness (But you have to admit, the writer played to the crowd on that. Everyone wanted some comeuppance by then, I’m sure, and they got it.), and more of the thief’s blindness to faith. Nice analysis.

Raffy found it funny that I was an amateur film critic as a Comm graduate and taking up studies in Philo, which meant I was very “qualified” to speak on the topic. In this case, one might say that Comm and Philo was the “perfect combination”, so to speak.

The discussion was lively, but someone wanted to throw a spanner in the whole thing by asking an incendiary question. This texter was saying the Passion proved that the Holy Trinity is untrue, as Christ was talking to God, so they can’t be the same. And the point of that is? As a pluralist, I know by now that not everything is contained in the Bible, insomuch as the American Constitution does not contain all the laws of the country. With that being said, the Bible does not need to say a thing about the Trinity for it to be true. Dinosaurs are true. The Bible said nothing about that. Why even start a very divisive argument like that, neh?

Raffy was apprehensive about the film on the grounds that it did not focus much on the resurrection. When I pointed out that Mel Gibson could make a sequel for it anyway, he was even more apprehensive, considering that it may be just as violent… heh.

Overall, it was fun. I loved guesting on the show, and it was quite a pat on the back for one of the priests to tell me that they really appreciated my insights, and even be thanked for it. More of the same was given to me by the PETA members… really heart-warming…

.:Movie Review: The Passion Of The Christ:.

The Passion Of The Christ:.
Don’t read this if you don’t want me to spoil the story for you…

First of all, I would gladly skip the story and make this a shorter than usual review because I can assume by now that I don’t need to recount the story as you’ve either seen the film already, or you already know what happened to Christ, anyway. What Mel Gibson did for this film that no other Christ films has done is to simply amplify and point out to us as vividly as it can how much Christ really went through. The blood and the gore was there not to make us happy, but to make us realize that Christ’s sacrifice was, by no means, simple. He was God, yes, but He was also irrevocably human, inasmuch as Neo shared that distinction, but I digress.

The Passion hits hard and hits instantly. As early as the first five or so minutes, the pain already comes into play, and the squeamish would begin wincing at the film. Mel Gibson masterfully managed to depict the pain in so vivid a way that we don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a human being, God though he may be, who is being beaten raw to no end. Even though we know the story for the most part, a few of us were just hoping that the pain would end sooner than it was supposed to, especially at the scourging, which had more than the generally acknowledged thirty-nine lashes.

The film is loaded with symbolisms, but I’m sure you’ve read about most of it already, from the small miracle that happened when Jesus’ cross was flipped over (He floated.), to the twisted Madonna and Child version of Satan while walking across the screen at one point. I would have to say that the symbolisms were used to good effect, and did not feel the least bit out of context, unlike some of the symbols used in The Matrix series.

I loved the characters, for the most part. Mary's subdued acting was great and true to form, lest she go crazy over not restraining her feelings. The actress there also portrayed Mother Teresa, so you know she knows a thing or two about character acting. Mary Magdalene was fine, and well-cast. I especially liked Caiaphas' demeanor as well as Simon of Cyrene's ironic reference to being "an innocent man carrying a condemned man's burden". Jesus Christ "sold" the pain very well and realistically. All in all, the cast did their job more than adequately.

However, there is one gripe that can be held against the film validly, and this gripe is fatal. A film of this magnitude, giving this treatment to the greatest story ever told, can and will make a lot of viewers miss the point. I’ve said this before on the air, and I’ll say it again here: no matter how good and how vivid the message is, if the only thing people think after watching it was that the violence was so bad, or that it was so exaggerated that it was unrealistic, the moment people stop thinking that this is a movie about Christ and His Passion, then so much for all of the work.

It’s a sad fact: people tend to lose sight of the point, and this film was clearly no exception. Everyone was too busy picking up this or that opinion they read about the film, and using it to analyze the film, and it got to a point where people stopped remembering why this movie is there in the first place: to vividly remind us that Christ died for us. If you’re not Christian, it is to remind us that this is a good man who had a good life and died with dignity. This is not a film to make us squeamish, nor is it a teaser to Kill Bill vol. 2. Unfortunately, the more that people see it as such, the more that I realize that this film, while it is undoubtedly good, is simply not for everyone.

With that in mind, I implore anyone who has yet to see this film: if you will, please, don’t lose the goshdarned point. If you've already seen it and you already have, I highly suggest you find the point. Otherwise, this film would have sadly been a failure.

Marcelle’s Evaluation: A-/A

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