The Passion: Media outcry, audience frenzy

With 30,000 tickets a day being purchased in advance, Oscar-winning director Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ release date is tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. The Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish community have criticized the Gibson film as depicting the crucifixion of Christ in a manner that would incite anti-Semitism. Despite criticism and opposition from liberal media, the film will debut in the United States in over 3,500 theaters, with 800 possibly being added. This marks the widest opening ever of a subtitled picture, Variety reported, and is remarkable for an independent film (Gibson personally donated $25 million after Hollywood production studios refused to support it).

The Passion of the Christ has now been the focus of continued attacks from liberal organizations and the liberal community, despite many members of the cast and crew, including the screenwriter, being from the Jewish community. According to Alan Sereboff, a Jewish-American screenwriter and filmmaker, the movie is not anti-Semitic and “will not create a single bigot or anti-Semite. It may, however, reveal them.” He continues to add, “As a Jew, I left the movie feeling a greater sense of kinship and closeness to my Christian brothers and sisters than I ever thought imaginable.”

With the wide variety of sentiments from both the Christian and Jewish communities, as well as liberal and conservative organizations, one thing is certain: failed attempts of submission, in the political correctness context, by Hollywood production companies appears to be censorship, rather than tolerance for originality and creativeness despite offensiveness. Is that not liberal thought at heart?

“I would hope that fellow Jews and Christians alike would see the importance in respecting your rights to create and share whatever vision you choose, and the hypocrisy in the attempts to censure of said rights,” said Sereboff. To remark that Passion is simply a film assigning blame or finger-pointing is analogous of stating that Gladiator was simple a film about Romans’ cruelty to animals and obsession with lion fighting, or Ben-Hur was simply about chariots.

“I cannot recall a film that has had such a profound effect on my understanding of history, religion and, perhaps most importantly, what we as human beings are capable of in relation to our treatment of one another,” wrote Sereboff.

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Nathalia Gillot is can be contacted at