James Berardinelli on The Passion

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On the Mises film page, I refer to James Berardinelli as “my trusted film reviewer”. This is not because he writes from a libertarian or Christian perspective like myself, but because he is extremely disciplined about judging a movie on the merits of whether it succeeds at what it is trying to do. This can lead to disconcerting results, as in his glowing review of the disgusting Commie film Land and Freedom about the Spanish Civil War. But it also means that I look forward to his nonpartisan evaluation of a film that I feel too close to due to my own attachment to the subject matter. Like, for example, The Passion.

In his review he writes, “In making The Passion of the Christ, Gibson set himself up to fail. His goal – to take one of the best-known stories in all of human history and transform it into something new, vital, and emotionally potent – was audacious to the point of foolhardiness. Yet, somehow, against all odds, he succeeded… It is hard to imagine even the most cynical atheist being unmoved by Jesus’ ordeal.”

Another interesting comment, “Originally, Gibson indicated that he intended to release the movie without subtitles – a choice that was heavily criticized at the time. Now, having seen the movie, I believe it would have worked that way. At times, the words almost seem to get in the way.”

11:27 pm on February 24, 2004