Friday, February 27, 2004

The Guardian on The Passion of the Christ

An interesting article in today's Guardian:

Gibson film ignores vow to remove blood libel
Director keeps in infamous line - but in Aramaic only
Stephen Bates and John Hooper in Rome

The claim relates, of course, to the inclusion in the film of Matthew 27.25, "His blood be on us and on our children", though not in the subtitles:
Mel Gibson has reneged on a promise to remove the infamous scriptural blood libel, in which the Jews allegedly accepted responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus, from his film The Passion of the Christ, according to one of the world's foremost scholars, who saw a preview showing yesterday.
The scholar concerned is Geza Vermes, who is very critical of the film
Geza Vermes, a former professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford and the author of five books on the life of Christ, writes of the film in today's Guardian: "I have never seen anything so dreadful and I hope I never will." . . . .

. . . . Prof Vermes immediately picked holes in the film, criticising its use of "Catholic church Latin" by the Roman soldiers instead of the Greek they would have spoken, pointing out that Pilate is referred to as the "governor" rather than the prefect of the province and spotting that the wrong Aramaic word for God is used throughout.
And there is critique of the film from British Jews
The British Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "It would have been better if this film had never been made. The glorification of violence and bloodshed and the reinforcement of medieval stereotyping of the Jewish people are extremely dangerous."
But as a Jesus film buff, I am most interested in the following comments from Franco Zeffirelli:
In Rome, the veteran Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli, who himself made a controversial film about the life of Christ, said Gibson was "sinisterly attracted to the most unrestrained violence".

In an article for the newspaper Corriere della Sera, Zeffirelli wrote: "[In America] mothers want at all costs for their children to see the film... What conclusion will children in particular be able to draw from it other than that the Jews were to blame for all that bloodshed? This way we set ourselves back centuries."
It will be worth seeing if it is possible to dig out an internet version of Zeffirelli's article. Let's see next if someone can grab Martin Scorsese for his opinion!

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