Region: 2 (PAL)
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Acorn Media
Release Date: Oct 2008
Run Time: 180 minutes
Having given the Bible Society's release of this film a four week head start, the BBC's DVD of The Passion goes on sale today. But whereas the earlier version was only available through the Bible Society, this one has been released nationwide with many online retailers offering it substantially below the £20 RRP.
Assuming that the review discs I received a while ago have not changed in the interim, then the discs' transfers are good, but there are no special features. Indeed there doesn't even appear to be a basic menu. Whilst this does give the advantage of being able to watch it straight away, it's disappointing given the amount of material the BBC made available on the website, which will, no doubt, disappear one day.
So, ultimately the consumer is left with a choice between the Bible Society's set with a few extra features but a substantially higher cost (and their price is unlikely to drop if past history is anything to go on), or hunting out a bargain on the official, bare bones version. One other plus point for the BBC release: its cover art is significantly better that their rival's - at least that's my opinion.
The Times has marked the occasion with a fascinating piece Joseph Mawle (Jesus from The Passion. It's rare that a journalist just lets the actor speak for themselves, but on this occasion it's absolutely the right choice. In particular, Mawle discusses the crucifixion scene culminating in his discussion of it's after effects:
I remember feeling like someone in a car crash — everything seemed to happen in slow motion. The sun was absolutely blinding, but I had to keep facing upwards. The director had positioned a camera above my head to capture the agony on Jesus’s face and the moment when he utters his last words.The review has also sparked an outburst by Bite my Bible which criticises the film for portraying the resurrection as being just a "vision". To my mind that is certainly one valid interpretation of the end of the film, but only one among several possible, and equally valid, interpretations of the programme's ending. As I said at the time it also fitted the views of Wright et al. that "the failure to recognise the risen Jesus was because his resurrection body is a physical body, but one that is significantly different from his pre-resurrection body"1. Conversely, the ending could be taken as saying that the resurrection never really happened (save in the disciples' minds). What is so good about the film's ending is that it remains as open to interpretation as the gospel accounts themselves. As Doug at MetaCatholic points out Jesus is "one moment unrecognisable, the next known. One moment nowhere to be seen, the next in the middle of the room. How do you do justice to that in a visual medium, as opposed to an oral one?". Indeed given the variety of post-resurrection accounts in the gospels, and the low, albeit vital, correlation between these accounts, I wonder if the problem for some more conservative commentators is that this film is a little too "faithful to the gospel narrative"2. Hat Tip to Mark Goodacre
The scene took three days, and although I’d only been up on the cross for minutes at a time, my arms were still numb when I returned to London.
1 - This is a quotation from my earlier piece not one from Wright himself
2 - Mark Thompson. Cited at Bite my Bible - http://www.bitemybible.com/2008/10/the-bbc-is-anti.html - from either a talk held by the public theology think-tank Theos or his lecture at Westminster Cathedral earlier this year.