• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and a few bits and pieces on the Bible.

    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    Repphun, Goodacre, Rosson on The Passion of the Christ

    Eric Repphun of The Dunedin School, a blog I've not read before, has posted his list of the Top 11 Religiously Themed Films of the Decade. I've been toying with the idea of doing a similar list myself, particularly as this morning I sent one of my editors my Top 10 films of the decade article. There are some good choices on there including a few I've not yet seen, but it's the 11th that has caused a bit of comment elsewhere. Repphun includes The Passion of the Christ as "the worst", listing many of the usual objections.

    Quick off the mark as always, Mark Goodacre has posted a response, noting a few errors along the way. The one that left me somewhat gobsmacked was his assertion that the "primary source material for the idea that Jesus was crucified with nails going through the wrists is the Turin Shroud". I'd thought it was tied in with the research related to the find of a crucified man's ankle bone, but apparently not.

    One of Repphun's objections that Mark counters is the general charge of historical inaccuracy. Mark's contends that a claim for historical accuracy "was not part of the publicity for The Passion of the Christ". Here I'd disagree. To quote what I wrote in Mark's comments:
    Gibson did claim at least twice that he was trying to be historically accurate. Firstly in an interview with Raymond Arroyo in the Wall Street Journal on March 7th 2003 ("I'm trying to make it as authentic as I possibly can, right down to the clothing, right down to the eating customs of the Jews of the old law") and then later with Andrew Gumbel for The Independent on 16th August 2003 ("(the film) will show the passion of Jesus Christ just the way it happened... like travelling back in time and watching the events unfold exactly as they occurred")

    Unfortunately neither of these articles appears to still be online, I don't have either of them to hand either, but recorded them and their source in an article I wrote previewing the film back in 2004.
    Mark's response draws a line "between interviews before the film and the film's own publicity". I can see his point, but I personally I don't think such a line exists, particularly in this case where the director is trying to build grassroots support for his film. Indeed I seem to recall that Peter Chattaway went as far as to say that even Gibson's claim "The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film...I was just directing traffic" was a pitch (though I can't find Peter's quotation so I may be wrong).

    It's interesting though that Mark has found his involvement with the BBC's Passion has brought The Passion of the Christ down in his estimation, particularly with regard to the anti-Semitism issue.

    Anyway Loren Rosson also discusses this and includes a link to his own thoughts on the film.



    • At 5:17 am, December 09, 2009, Blogger Peter T Chattaway said…

      FWIW, I don't have the exact reference handy, but I believe Mel made his "directing traffic" remark while promoting the film at a megachurch, or something like that.

    • At 1:28 pm, December 09, 2009, Blogger Matt Page said…

      From memory, I remember someone saying something to you on this at Arts and Faith, and you saying something like "yeah, it's a pitch". I remember it cos I was distinctly amused. I think it was when we were on the Novogate board and so it's lost AFAIK.


    • At 2:16 pm, December 15, 2009, Blogger Mark Goodacre said…

      Thanks for a great post, Matt. My point on the publicity is that I think you can see Mel Gibson backing away from the historical accuracy claim, perhaps in the light of the conflict with Paula Fredriksen et al, and towards a claim of faithfulness to the text. I think Gibson's disdain for critical scholars grew, but he wanted at the same time to maintain a claim about the film's authenticity.

    • At 12:23 pm, January 05, 2010, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Ah interesting. Never thought of that before.



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