Monday, March 15, 2004


Sharon Waxman ponders Hollywood & the Bible in light of the wild success of The Passion:
As the overwhelming success of "The Passion of the Christ" reverberates through Hollywood, producers and studio executives are asking whether the movie industry has been neglecting large segments of the American audience eager for more openly religious fare....

"You can't ignore those numbers," said Mark Johnson, a veteran film producer. "You can't say it's just a fluke. There's something to be read here."

But the problem is, Hollywood as an institution really can't come to grips with the Bible itself, and what making a movie consistent with what the Bible actually says and represents. It took Gibson stepping outside the Hollywood mainstream to do it. Hollywood (shock!) just isn't comfortable with the Bible
Mr. Guber said that reaction to that movie's success was butting up against the feelings of many in Hollywood who dislike its widely criticized portrayal of Jewish responsibility in the death of Jesus.

"There's both discomfort, amazement and anger — sometimes all at once," he said. "Greed and envy and anger and jealousy are all interesting bedfellows. They make for interesting conjugal visits in this town."...

"You can't deny when a movie makes that kind of money that the audience has spoken to the filmmaking community, but it's a frightening comment," said Michael Nozik, a producer of the forthcoming "Motorcycle Diaries," about Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary leader. Mr. Nozik is alarmed by the violence in "The Passion," he said, and dismayed by the "pot of anger" that has been stirred by accusations of anti-Semitism.

"I would not think of making a religious movie that speaks to this aspect of the audience," Mr. Nozik said. "I don't know how you speak to that audience as a filmmaker. But as a businessman you have to go, `God, there's something there.' "

As divisions of major media conglomerates concerned with their public image, Hollywood studios have historically shied away from all but the most benign values, like friendship, family and love. Movies with strong points of view — political and particularly religious — have had difficulty receiving green lights.

"It's not clear that Hollywood has the appetite or the attitude" to make religious movies, Mr. Guber said. Mr. Gibson's movie, he said, "in my judgment, has a politically religious point of view."

There lies the problem. To make a movie that is not "politically religious" in the view of Hollywood is to make a movie that ultimately isn't Biblical and won't draw the audiences The Passion has drawn. Hollywood is much more comfortable making a movie about Che Guevera (which I'm sure is in no way political [wink, wink, nudge, nudge]) than a movie about Paul. Read Paul and read Jesus and they're preaching at Hollywood, not preaching for them. And that makes them squirm in their seats.

If you want movies like The Passion, you're going to have to have someone like a Mel Gibson to make them. That is someone who takes the material seriously and is also a highly talented filmmaker. Sadly there aren't many such people out there.

[Link via Drudge]

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