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As Long as We Remember...

April 23, 2004

"Passion" Film Raises Serious Questions

Derek Shackelford

The movie The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson has caused quite a stir regarding the factual information depicted in the movie.

Most of the debate stems from the historical perspective of just who Jesus Christ was. The arguments have ranged over the movie being depicted factually according to biblical interpretation, to information added just for the sake of the film.

The theological debate also considers whether or not the scenes in the movie are historically accurate. Other considerations, which have been debated, included how Christ actually died and who was responsible for his death.

Director Gibson reportedly financed the film with his own personal resources. No money was given for the project from any of the filmmaking agencies. Mr. Gibson has also pledged to contribute any profit made from the film to charity.

The filmmaker sought out many theological scholars to assist with the film to ensure that it would be historically accurate, according to The Bible. This is where the debate rages even stronger, because scholars for years have argued the facts of biblical scripture.

Arguably there has never been as much controversy over any other individual than Jesus Christ. To some, he is the savior of the world; to others, a prophet; and, to still others, just an ordinary man. These assessments alone bring about an enormous range of opinions regarding the film.

Those who proclaim Christ as savior of the world will claim the film is factual. The ironic part of this is those who proclaim Christ as savior and dying for the sins of the world will say the film is too violent.

Well, if Christ died for the sins of the world, then the violence probably was more gruesome than depicted.

Those who say that Christ is a prophet, or just an ordinary man, will say there is no way that one man could endure all of that violence and that people could be so vile in extracting so much pain.

This is where most of the struggle between the interpretations has ranged. As a current seminarian, I do not proclaim to be a theological scholar or intellectually deep, but I do have some personal thoughts on who Christ is.

Keeping this in mind, I have challenged myself to seek truth as much as possible. Art and film have been a powerful means in our culture and history. The interesting point about art is that which may be art to some may not be to others.

This may be true of this film and this is not to question the talent of the filmmaker. Director Gibson has stated that the whole point of the film was to portray who Jesus Christ was leading up to his death and the focus was to be as historically accurate as possible. The director, I would hope, even did mounds of research to make sure that the film's point was validated.

If this is true, Mr. Gibson, then the question remains: Why did you portray Jesus Christ as white?

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