Wednesday March 3, 2004
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
AVERAGE JOE FINALE THOUGHTS
“Like Nothing I Have Ever Seen Before”
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
No baseball talk today, and you’ll see why. Yes, this is primarily a baseball website, but since it is my website, I can write about whatever I want. Today, I want to discuss something else. Also, based on how much time I left myself to write last night, you’ll be able to see why there isn’t more. I hope you enjoy!
Yesterday, this site’s webmaster and editor “Missy” and I decided to take a half day of vacation time and drive the 150 miles to Grand Forks. We really wanted to see the movie The Passion of the Christ and didn’t want to wait. So, we made the trip, went to a matinee, hit Red Lobster (the Shrimp Scampi is excellent!), then drove back! Sounds crazy, right? Well, maybe, but when we got back, we both agreed that the time spent was well worth it.
I am sure you have all read or seen plenty on this movie. I had too. I admit, the controversy of it made me want to see it even more. What did I know about the movie heading into it? Well, obviously I knew it was written and directed by Mel Gibson. I had read that it is based very much on the gospels of the Bible. I knew that he spent $25 million of his own money to make the independent film because the major studios were unwilling to take the gamble on such a movie (so when it made over $150 million in its first five days, he had to be happy!). From people I know who had seen it, they had told me that it was absolutely incredible. “Powerful” was the word used most frequently. They said that no one left the theater with a dry eye and that it was completely silent throughout the movie.
Quickly, like Steven Spielberg did with Schindler’s List, Mel Gibson went with a relatively unknown cast, choosing to let the movie be the story, not who was in it. I think it was the right choice. James Caviezel plays the role of Jesus. You may remember him as the homeless man befriended by Haley Joel Osment in Pay It Forward. The actresses that played Mary and Mary Magdelene, and well, most of the rest of the cast, were veteran actors from Europe, primarily Italy.
RANDOM MOVIE THOUGHTS
So I was really excited to see the movie. Below you will find a few of my thoughts.
First, the whole movie was in Aramaic and Latin. That meant that I had to spend the whole movie reading the screen while watching. I thought this would be more of a problem, but it really wasn’t. It took a couple of scenes to get used to it. I actually think this makes the movie even better. First, I know the story pretty well, so I knew generally what was happening and what was being said. Also, it is done in a way where it is easy to follow. There are not really any lines that are too long or people speaking over each other, so it’s not so bad at all.
One of the issues that I have read is that this movie is somehow anti-Semetic. I never understood how it would be, and after seeing the movie myself, I really see absolutely nothing anti-Semetic about the whole movie. The high priest, Caiphus, really comes across as the one most responsible for Jesus’s crucifixion. Sure, Herod looked completely crazy and the soldiers who are responsible for the beating of him look absolutely insane! Pontius Pilate looks like a guy who is worried about Caesar killing him and who gives in to a mob, despite the wishes of his wife. In no way do I see any anti-Semetic tone in the movie.
It is also interesting how Gibson uses Satan in the movie. The devil is portrayed by a woman who shows up as Jesus is being tortured and tested. Gibson also uses ‘demons’ frequently in the movie. The first time is with Judas after his betrayal of Jesus. Another time, the devil is holding a child and moving around while Jesus is being whipped. Jesus looks up and sees them, and we see that that baby is, in fact, a demon.
Another thing that I thought Gibson did well was his use of flashbacks. There were numerous flashbacks to his youth with his mother, when he met Mary Magdelene or time he spent with the disciples. They were all appropriate to the situation.
I in no way claim to be a theologian or Biblical expert, but eight years of parochial school and being from a very religious family, I have read and discussed these events numerous times. I have to say that the movie very accurate portrays what is written in the Bible. There were just a couple of times when I asked myself if that really happened, or if he or she really said that, but that’s it. I found it to be very Biblically accurate.
The movie starts with Jesus praying in the Garden with Peter, James and John. It details the betrayal by Judas leading to Jesus’ arrest. It shows Peter’s three denials. It gives a detailed visual of what he endured at the hands of his captors. It continues as he carries his cross up the hill. It shows his crucifixion, and it shows how the earth shook and it got dark and the temple walls came down.
Normally, I would not discuss this much detail of a movie. I hate when I find out too much about a movie. But, in a way, this movie was like Titanic. I have seen that movie a few times and keep hoping that the ship will miss the iceberg, or that the rescue ships will get there in time. In The Passion of the Christ, you know what is going to happen, and as much as you’d like to change what happened, you can’t.
However, this movie can not be compared to Titanic or any other movie for that matter. Before I went to the movie, I talked to a good friend of mine who had already seen it. She told me that it is “Like Nothing I Have Ever Seen Before.” As I was watching the film unfold, I kept repeating that line to myself and found it to be so true. This is an incredibly gruesome, violent movie. But, there have been equally gruesome movies made before, not that I enjoy seeing them. There have been movies based on other books, or even real-life historical situations or eras. I have seen mini-movies or other shows about Biblical people, including Jesus. I have even watched movies where I have had to read sub-titles before.
THE DEEP STUFF (BEWARE)
So, what made this movie so different, so unlike anything I had ever seen before? Let me try to explain, and I hope it makes sense.
I have read much of the Bible, including the Passion many times before. In church, we recite the Apostle’s Creed in which we say, “…suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.” To me, I know what that means. I know it was bad. But now to have a real visual of exactly what that means, what it meant for Jesus to “suffer.” I can not even imagine going through such intense torture, physically and emotionally and mentally too, I’m sure. Jesus not only was brutally beaten but heard the jeering of the crowds and the taunts of the soldiers who were persecuting him. Watching this movie brings that all to light!
And then the crucifixion... Seeing what that really means, how that is done, it is incredible. I literally had to turn away from the screen as they were pounding nails into his hands (the second of two times during the movie when I had to turn away) and then his feet. (Note - I turned the wrong way apparently because Missy told me that at this point, she needed a bucket to catch all the tears flowing from her eyes!) And what did Jesus say as this was happening? “Father, forgive them! They know not what they do!”
But, the part of the movie that hit me the hardest was as he was up on the cross, they kept showing flashbacks of The Last Supper, when Jesus spoke the words used in what is now called the Words of Institution, the words your pastor speaks before communion:
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when he was betrayed took bread. And when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me. In the same way also, he took the cup after supper, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: Drink of it, all of you; this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
This movie is just over two hours long. Much of it is the brutal treatment waged against Jesus. It is very hard to watch. Finally, on the cross, Jesus’ character says, “It is accomplished!” You know, I always remember that line being “It is finished,” but as I sat there, head in hand, staring at the screen, I thought about that line. “It is accomplished!” The purpose of Jesus being born and living on earth was to endure this torture. And why? He went through all that because of our sins. Yours, and mine.
So again, seeing all of this visually, just brought the entire Passion story into a whole new light, but it also hits on a very personal level.
I had heard that his death was where the movie ended, and if so, that would have been unfortunate. For Christians everywhere, the crucifixion and death of Jesus is just a part of the story. For Christians, the resurrection is as important as the crucifixion. Without the resurrection, the crucifixion is really all for naught. Right? I think if the movie ended with Mary holding Jesus’s dead body in her arms, it would have been unfortunate. So, I was very happy to see a quick 30 second scene at the end of the movie showing the resurrection, the event that gives us hope.
So there you have it, my thoughts on The Passion of the Christ. I think it is an absolutely great movie! I think it is something that everyone should see at least once, especially Christians. However, if you take your kids, you’ll want to cover their eyes a lot! I also think it is a movie that could be enjoyed by anyone in secular society because it contains the violence and the good story that the public pays to see.
If you have seen this movie, please send me an e-mail with your thoughts. I would really love to read them and we can discuss notes with people who have seen it. Or, on the flip-side, if you chose not to watch it, I’d like to hear those reasons as well. It certainly is a very controversial movie, but well worth watching!
Here are some interesting bits of trivia on The Passion of the Christ from the Internet Movie Database:
· When this Latin and Aramaic language film was announced, Mel Gibson stated that his intent was to release it without subtitles, letting the performances speak for themselves. However, subtitles were added later. Also, he stated that regardless of the cost of the project, that this would be "good for the soul".
· During the scourging scene, James Caviezel accidentally got whipped twice. The first time knocked the wind out of him, and the second time hurt so much it caused him wrench his hand quickly from his shackles, scraping his wrist badly.
· Miramax Studios owns the rights to the film title "The Passion", which is why this film was at first renamed "The Passion of Christ" and then later retitled again to "The Passion of the Christ".
· In an interview with Newsweek magazine, James Caviezel spoke about a few of the difficulties he experienced while filming. This included being accidentally whipped twice, which has left a 14 inch scar on his back. Caviezel also admitted he was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount and during the crucifixion, experienced hypothermia during the dead of winter in Italy.
· James Caviezel experienced a shoulder separation when the 150lb cross dropped on his shoulder. The scene is still in the movie.
· The figure of Christ during the crucifixion is actually James Caviezel, despite popular rumors - no animatronics were used. However, according to the movie's official website, the movie's make-up effects creator/producer 'Keith Vanderlaan' forged an articulated, rubber stand-in for Caviezel who could be suspended on the cross for certain wide shots to allow the actor some physical relief.
· When meeting with the producer, James Caviezel was originally told the film in question was a surfing movie. It wasn't until Mel Gibson walked in that Caviezel was told it was a film about Jesus.
· According to 'Mel Gibson' , Maia Morgenstern, who played Mary, was pregnant during the shoot. She didn't tell anyone, until one day she approached James Caviezel (Jesus) and said in broken English and a thick Romanian accent, "I have baby. In stomach."
· Mel Gibson considered deleting the controversial line: "His blood is on us, on our children." The line is still spoken in the film but there is no subtitle for it.
· It's Mel Gibson's hands that nail Christ to the cross during the Crucifixion scene. The decision for his small cameo in the film was explained by a quote from Gibson who said "It was me that put him on the cross. It was my sins [who put him there]."
· On the first day of general release, Ash Wednesday, Peggy Scott, a 56 year old advertising sales manager from Wichita, Kansas died of apparent heart failure while watching the crucifixion scene.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Because I was out of town and got home late, I had to tape last night’s American Idol episode, but I had to watch it when I got home. I think that most of the signers were decent, but just one was really great.. Here are my choices:
The two that I would vote for are Jasmine Trias and Suzy Vulaca.
The two that will probably advance are Jasmine Trias and Tiara Purifoy.
A quick sentence on the eight contestants - Suzy Vulaca was really good. I thought he voice was excellent even though she sang a bad, un-Tony Braxton version of “Unbreak My Heart.” John Preator sang a bad song really poorly. Heather Piccinini - Not good, especially at first, but she’s a hotty. John Stevens is really, really good at what he sings. He just has no chance in a pop music contest. That said, there is a chance that he could get some votes. Jasmine Trias - VERY GOOD! She should be an easy pick. She was incredible! George Huff. VERY NON-GOOD! Lisa Wilson? Well, it’s clear that she only made it this far because she is the most gorgeous woman who tried out. But she is a terrible singer!! Tiara Purifoy was bad too. I think at times she hit some notes, but was off more often than not. So, there you have it. Be sure to check out Fox tonight for the results show!
What do you think? E-mail me.
AVERAGE JOE FINALE THOUGHTS
I love the concept of Average Joe. Take a bunch of ‘average’ guys and let them connect to a gorgeous model. However, the reality of this reality show hits us ‘average’ individuals at the end when the model, in this case Larissa, chooses the hunk with no personality or conversational skills (in this case, Gil). But again, that is reality! I would love to think that my speaking skills, charisma and flirtatious-ness would mean I could hook up with Jennifer Love Hewitt, but reality tells me that won’t happen, and not just because I’ll never meet her!
It is actually almost upsetting to watch the shows and see how good some of the ‘average’ guys are. It’s even cooler when the last ‘average’ guy, Boston Brian, takes Larissa to Fenway Park and they meet Tim Wakefield and talk romance before making out in centerfield. Ft. Lauderdale resident, Gil, fully admitted that he was on this show to become an actor. So, clearly the man is an idiot! But, guess which one she picks to head to Cabo San Lucas with? That’s right, Gil!
Of course, the other part of the show that people wondered about was the secret that Larissa was keeping. Ends up all she wanted to share with Gil was that Fabio was her former boyfriend. Gil flipped. And his response to the cameras was that every guy in America would react the same way he did. I don’t think so. What does that have to do with now? That was in the past. The best line was after Gil left her, Larissa said, “Now I know how Brian Worth feels!”
Now, we can look forward to Average Joe: Adam Returns. So far, the two women have been made to look shallow by picking the “hunks” over the ‘average joes’. It will be interesting to see what happens with Adam.
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
If it is baseball talk you’re looking for, here are a couple of sites to check out:
My alma-mater, Concordia College, a Division III school in Moorhead, Minnesota, began its schedule with a trip to Clearwater, Florida where they will be playing 8 or 9 games. The coach, Bucky Burgau, is writing a daily diary of what is happening. It is interesting reading what happens at the Division III level compared to the Division I level or even the minor leagues. I think it’s really good, so check it out.
Aaron’s Baseball Blog - Aaron Gleeman is again mocking writers today. That kind of seems to be his thing of late, making sure everyone knows how smart he is. Oh, regarding former Reds manager Marge Schott’s death yesterday, Gleeman shows his ‘sensative side.’ (That said, I don’t disagree with his shots at Schott!)
Red’s Daily - JD writes a very fair posting regarding Marge Schott today describing her as a “character.”
Twins Geek - the Geek says that the Twins really seem to have 23 of their 25 roster spots figured out. He discusses who seem to be sure things and who else could factor into the equation.
The Baseball Savant - Are you a fan of the Atlanta Braves? If so, David has written a couple of posts about the Braves of the past decade. Very interesting stuff!
Well, that is it for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the review of The Passion of the Christ. Again, I’d love to hear any questions or comments you may have on it, or any other topics! Send me an e-mail.
Have a great day!
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