French critics crucify Passion of Christ

31st March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 31 (AFP) - Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" hit French screens Wednesday to a chorus of harsh words from the church and film critics, who dismissed it off as "sadistic", "manipulative" or just plain boring.

PARIS, March 31 (AFP) - Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" hit French screens Wednesday to a chorus of harsh words from the church and film critics, who dismissed it off as "sadistic", "manipulative" or just plain boring.

"The Gospel according to Mel, two hours and six minutes of close-up torture scenes ... is undoubtedly the most dangerous and most violent interpretation ever made of the Passion of Christ," wrote the weekly Nouvel Observateur as 500 copies of the US blockbuster were released in France.

A rare voice in favour of the film was the conservative weekly Figaro Magazine, which said its tougher moments aimed "to make the spectator understand what Christ endured."

But the Roman Catholic daily La Croix instead said the violence in the film's graphic depiction of Christ's gruelling last hours and crucifixion worked against it's intended message. "Sadism and voyeurism are no substitutes for catechism," it said.

That put-down by the Christian paper echoed the sentiments expressed by the group of Roman Catholic French bishops in charge of the media who said the film's extreme violence "ends up eclipsing the meaning of the Passion and largely the essence of Christ and of his message."

Filmgoers at the maiden screenings were less critical. "It is violent but that's the way it was," said a 29-year-old Pole studying in Paris. "I don't understand why (there is) so much debate ... Every Catholic should see it at least once."

A white-haired lawyer, who refused to be identified, said "I need to think about it first before commenting."

Following worldwide debate over "The Passion", the sole French distributor to take it on is Tunisian producer Tarak Ben Ammar.

Meanwhile, the daily Le Monde loathed its message as being "part of the worst fundamentalist trends of the modern world" - but nevertheless like other papers devoted two pages to the film - while the Communist paper l'Humanite thought the movie "incredibly boring".

Even the tabloid France-Soir was scathing, saying that the "manipulative" movie was aimed at guilt-ridden US ultra-conservatives.

With the film shattering box office records in the United States, where it has already brought in USD 315 million for a USD 30 million investment, much of the French press was of the opinion that it pandered to the ideology of Gibson's likeminded American fundamentalist friends.

"It is the marriage of Hollywood money and the reactionary ideology of 'made in USA' Christian fundamentalism in a long video-clip praising martyrdom," said the daily Liberation.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

0 Comments To This Article