And isn't it odd now to see, in the wake of this powerful film, cultural critics trying to curdle its impact by suggesting that the movie, with its body count of one (not counting the Resurrection), is a gorefest? "Mel's 'Passion' for Gore 'Extreme,' He Admits," claimed the New York Daily News, mangling his words out of his ABC interview. He said he wanted people to be struck, shocked by the physical pain and suffering endured by Jesus to save each believer. The spectacle wasn't for blood-loving jollies, like the choreographed mass murder of a Quentin Tarantino film. It was intended for Christian inspiration.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that Gibson made "one of the most brutally graphic and violent depictions in modern cinema" of the last hours of Jesus. But Hollywood has almost no depictions of Jesus in "modern cinema," other than Martin Scorsese's Jesus-trashing "The Last Temptation of Christ," and that's 16 years old. To show your children explicitly Christian films requires a walk through the oldies section: "Quo Vadis" (1951), "The Robe" (1953), "Ben-Hur" (1959), or "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965).
Don't worry, film critics: It should be safe to assume that the crowds flocking to this R-rated movie will not be dragging their kids to see the pain inflicted in "The Passion." How wonderful it would be if Hollywood had such tender hearts for the well being of vulnerable children routinely sneaking into R-rated films with little resistance.
The secular cultural elites have reason to be frightened. Millions of Americans will be dazzled in the multiplexes watching a cast of non-stars speak in non-English about what Hollywood has seen for eons as a non-story. The hubbub should send a powerful message to Hollywood: Our culture could use more of this kind of artistic vision and exploration, and less of your nihilistic nonsense. There might be a new fad in town.