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Film Comment: The Passion of The Christ

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'Film Comment: The Passion of The Christ'
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ronprice
28.10.2004 - 02:25

The dust of reviews has settled on this film and so: the time has come, perhaps, for a more dispassionate, a more considered, a more reflective, little review. Perhaps review is not quite the right word; perhaps what I have written here is just a comment, but it is no less provocative than the most provocative youve read thusfar and I hope you will find here some refreshing and intelligent insight into the way the film was made and perceived.
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This film is not intended to be a masterful historical documentary as, say, Ken Burns' work on the Civil War or one of many others done in the first century of the existence of the cinema. Gibson's work is far from possessing what some might call an intellectual poverty in its pretensions at historical documentary. Shawn Rosenheim says all TV documentaries possess an intellectual poverty. If Rosenheim is right the visual media are simply incapable of producing historical documentary.1 And if Rosenheim is wrong, as I tend to think he is, historical documentary of an event 2000 years ago is not impossible. It is, rather, a recreation. We simply do not know enough about the event Gibson is recreating to claim that what we are seeing is a documentary.

We all know that Gibson did not take his camera crew to downtown Jerusalem or into the little hamlet of Nazereth in some kind of time-warp to produce an anti-Jewish, anti Roman clip for the evening news. Even if he had and he then produced for us all an evening two hour special, spectacle, called "the crucifixion," there would still be questions about visual manipulation and the program's service in the name o
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