Controversies: The Passion Of The Christ

Author: Neal King

The Passion of the Christ sparked a lot of controversy before it slipped quietly out of public consciousness – more than anything fuelling the media frenzy surrounding Mel Gibson’s ‘bigot’ reputation. Neal King probes beneath the surface to explore the many steps along the way to creating such dispute, and how those involved contributed to this.

Given that much of the necessary sources are currently unavailable to really get inside the making and marketing of the film, there’s an arrogance to King’s self-assured opinions – but this is a film which provokes strong responses is everyone and it’s unsurprising that someone who has done as much thorough research into has developed such certainty of feeling towards it (despite the film’s failure to linger in our minds prior to the release of this tome).

This book has something to offer both to movie-buffs hoping to extend their knowledge of the screen epic, and those wanting to get some extra gossip on Gibson. It also makes us question why Gibson felt this story, which King points out has been told many times, needed telling again in this way.

Perhaps the most interesting area that King explores is the relationship between the Christian faith and violence in the name of the faith. The support the film attracted despite its graphic and disturbing scenes – the flagellation of Christ is one of those sequences which I tried to hide at the back of my mind since viewing it – is perhaps more surprising than the content of the film itself, and the intolerance it demonstrates of certain groups is particularly shocking. This is also makes it possible to compare your own thoughts and reactions to those King records here, which is an excellent way to illustrate the provocative nature of this film more objectively than King’s own opinion, without relying too heavily on statistics.

If, like me, you’re reluctant to subject yourself to the gruelling and depressing film again anytime soon, this book is a means to reignite interest in the film and inspire debate surrounding it. Neal’s resurrection of the film may help it take its rightful place in cinematic history.

Lauren Felton

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