Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was alluded to at least four times Sunday night at the boring Academy Awards extravaganza, all of them reportedly in a joking way. Mel Gibson was not at the gala.
Blockbuster Opening for The Passion
But The Passion is no laughing matter to these moguls with reports that in its first five days it recorded nearly 120 million dollars and was the No. 1 box office hit for the weekend with $76 million on the weekend alone. This is the seventh-best three-day opening ever and second best ever box office hit for a movie opening mid-week.
Money speaks about the popularity of a film that was considered a risk to begin with. Gibson, who put $25 million of his own money into producing the film, is getting a good return. A professional box office tracker called The Passion the most unlikely blockbuster he has ever seen.
The success is that it’s the truth, or as Pope John Paul II said, “It is as it was.” The question is, what is the Academy going to do about it when awards time comes around next year, if they were making jokes about it this year? Maybe the joke will be on them. You can bet there will be some soul searching going on.
Incidentally, the only movie I saw that got an award was Finding Nemo. Tells something about my dwindling interest in cinema. I used to be a fanatic and there was a time, when my father owned five theatres, that I saw nearly every movie made. In those days there was a Hays office and the Legion of Decency, which my Dad adhered to.
Byrne Defends The Passion
In Monday’s Chicago Tribune Dennis Byrne writes that a person doesn’t have to believe to be able to appreciate The Passion of the Christ. Byrne calls The Passion the most powerful art in any form that he has ever experienced. He almost didn’t go to see it because of the violence he had heard about. But, he says, that’s the whole point: Jesus saw what was coming, too, and He didn’t want to go through with it.
Byrne says we’ve become hardened to violence, but that hopefully we’re not yet hardened to suffering, and the suffering depicted in this film is what was necessary to redeem mankind. Minimizing it would betray what Christ’s Passion was about.
Christians find it harder than others, because we know that the suffering is not from Pilate or the crowd, but is our fault. This film gives believers a guilt trip of the 1950s type, the Dante’s Inferno type. And there’s the truth that a battle rages between good and evil. It takes some of us back to the nuns telling us that we drove the nails and swung the whips.
Burne asks, “[I]sn’t there something to be said about viewing evil that shakes us into something better? . . . the horrors of war . . . the photos of dead victims of abortion. . . . [W]e can learn by not casting our eyes away.” The suffering of the passion, Byrne writes, “was, at its heart, an act of love. But at their hearts, war and abortion are spawned by hatred, loathing, selfishness and lovelessness.”
It strikes me that you don’t have to believe in the divinity of Jesus to appreciate this film. Even if you assume that Jesus was just a man, He was someone put to death in the most hideous way imaginable for his speaking His beliefs. Beliefs that would shake the world. Beliefs built on a foundation of love, sacrifice and forgiveness. Not bad things to die for.
NOW v. Scheidler Drags On
In case you missed the news, on the first anniversary of our 8-1 U. S. Supreme Court victory ordering the lower court to vacate the injunction and drop the damages, NOW Attorney Fay Clayton was able to con the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel of three into send our case back to the trial court for reconsideration. They agree that Fay may have found four predicate acts that the Supreme Court overlooked, so we may be racketeers after all.
Fay won’t admit defeat. But we suspect her new trick may be her undoing. Stay tuned.