Over the weekend on Ebert and Roper
, both gave the film thumbs up. Ebert was surprisingly emphatic about the film and the overall meaning. (Audio of the review can be found here
Ebert's Sun Times review can be found here
. Of note is the way he prefaces his review:Do I think Gibson would have edited it if the film had been given an NC-17 rating? If Mel was a traditional Hollywood director, he would reedit the film to get an R rating. NC-17 is the kiss of death for the survival of a film for two reasons. One, it greatly reduces the number of people who can see it in the first run. Second, and more importantly, stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video don't stock NC-17 films. Most films these days show at a loss until the DVD is released, and then they become profitable.
I think there have only been a few films that have been flagged as NC-17 since this rating was introduced 10 or so years ago. Usually, we associate sexuality with the rating, but in this case, violence would foot the bill. It's because of these economics behind the ratings system that you see PG, PG-13, and R movies all get raunchier as of late. It all has to do with the distribution system in the end.
All that said, Mel isn't a traditional Hollywood director. And he'd probably keep the rating.
Personally, I've read a lot about it and would like to see it eventually. However, because it's supposed to be pretty graphic and violent, I don't know if I could actually handle it at a theater (I can't even get through an episode of ER
sometimes). I may wait for it on DVD :)
No, the film doesn't seem perfect from a creative or Biblical history point of view. No film adaptation is (even the much hearlded Lord of the Rings
triology changed from the books somewhat). However, I admire Gibson's bold take and vision to tell the story. I think if you had someone else get together to do a film like this, it would be film by committee, which always results in crap. Mel is taking a risk by doing this, but it's HIS interpretation of what happened. He didn't try to make everything approachable for all parties involved, which I admire. I have a feeling that if a group of folks or a studio were to try to produce this, you'd have denominational infighting and a diluted message.
As for the violence that was done to Jesus, yeah, it's pretty heavy duty. It is a lot about what happened to him rather than what he did for others. That's the tradeoff in Mel telling only the 8 hours or so of the overall story.