The Passion of the Christ

Release Date: February 25, 2004

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.

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Position Staff In Brief
110/133 Dan Krovich As a movie it lacks a dramatic narrative ark (er, arc)

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When Mel Gibson announced plans to make a film about the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ…using the now dead languages of Aramaic and Latin spoken at the time…without subtitles, many people’s reaction was that he was crazy. My reaction was that it was certainly a more interesting choice artistically than, say, Lethal Weapon 5. As Mel is a devout Catholic, there is little question that his decision to make The Passion stems from, well, passion. While passion alone isn’t enough to guarantee a good film, it’s a good starting point for at least an interesting endeavor and enough to make this completely non-religious person fairly excited to see what he comes up with. I’m a fan of big stars using their Hollywood clout to make risky artistic choices.

Since the original announcement, it seems that Gibson may have backed off from his initial no subtitles stance. Though that’s not a huge surprise for any box office aspirations, it would be disappointing to see him go that route. If there’s any story that doesn’t need exposition for the audience to know what’s going on, this is it, and the film sans subtitles would feel like something of a modern day silent film. Everything else about the film looks promising. The casting of Jim Caviezel as Jesus is a perfect choice. Caviezel, deeply religious himself, exudes goodness and spirituality and has already played metaphorical Christ figures in several films, so this seems like the next logical step.

The teaser trailer is very promising. The Passion looks to be bloodier than most horror films, playing in to Gibson’s stated desire for a more gritty, realistic depiction. Crucifixions were certainly gory events, and not the sanitized versions we have seen before. The teaser alone is intense and visually stunning. The only concern is that whatever score they come up with won’t be able to match the selection from the Rabbit-Proof Fence score by Peter Gabriel (who interestingly also did the score for The Last Temptation of Christ) used perfectly to set the mood in the teaser. One thing the film is sure not to lack is publicity. With a big star like Gibson behind it and various groups chomping at the bit to protest it, the film is certain to get a lot of free publicity. (Dan Krovich/BOP)

January 25, 2004
The studio's release plans have changed to put this film in at least 2,000 venues, though the exact total is yet to be set in stone. Theaters are selling tickets early and interest in the movie does appear to be rather high. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

February 25, 2004
AP is reporting that pre-sales for this film have broken all prior records for advance purchases. The Passion of the Christ has gone from being a movie that no major studio would touch to an out and out phenomenon. As such, venue counts have gone from being the originally reported several hundred to a staggering 3,000+, and that total looks to increase in the coming days. There hasn't been a situation like this since The Blair Witch Project, maybe even Titanic. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Passion of the Christ
Main Cast James Caviezel
Supporting Cast Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Rosalinda Celentano, Ivano Marescotti, Francesco Gabriele, Claudia Gerini
Director Mel Gibson
Screenwriter Mel Gibson, Benedict Fitzgerald
Distributor Newmarket Film Group
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Rating R
Running Time 120 minutes
Screen Count 3,043
Also see Calvin Trager reviews The Passion of the Christ
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