March 11, 2005


Will a recut Passion still stir debate?: Film rereleased minus 6 minutes of worst gore (JEANNIE KEVER, 3/11/05, Houston Chronicle)

Last year's success of The Passion of the Christ foretold the red state-blue state electoral vote divide as the nation's culture wars played out at the box office.

Many movie goers described it as a sacred experience, but to others it was nothing more than a graceless horror flick. So it should come as no surprise that today's rerelease — now billed as The Passion Recut, minus about six minutes of the goriest scenes but still too intense to qualify for a PG-13 rating — has drawn little consensus.

This new version is expected to be at least a modest success, even an enduring staple of the Easter season. That is good news in some Christian quarters but more cause for worry to those concerned about its portrayal of Jews. [...]

News reports suggest there has been an increase in anti-Semitism, both locally and worldwide, over the past year, although Martin Cominsky, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, says there is no proof the movie was behind it.

In fact, reported reaction ran more along the lines of the story of Dan Leach II, who, after being emotionally moved by The Passion, confessed to killing girlfriend Ashley Nicole Wilson in her Richmond apartment. The case had been ruled a suicide; Leach was later sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Historically, passion plays have sparked violence against Jews, most spectacularly when Hitler invoked the passion play enacted by the Bavarian village of Oberammergau after attending a 1934 performance. [...]

On the other hand, the movie did get people talking. Plate noted that the Association for Jewish Studies had two sessions on The Passion at its annual meeting in December.

"Christians and Jews have been talking to each other for a long time," he said. "It set some of it back, but it also opened up new categories of discussion."

The film won't stir a debate about anti-Semitism, anti-Christians will. The comparison to Hitler is especially vile, as if he sat down and wrote Mein Kampf after seeing the Passion Play.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 11, 2005 10:54 AM

It wasn't the Jews who killed Christ, it was me.

Posted by: Gideon at March 11, 2005 10:59 AM

Today's worst anti-Semites are the members of the "enlightened" "rationalist" "reality-based" secular Left, tireless advocates of peace and social justice all.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 11, 2005 11:29 AM

The theatrical release of The Passion was responsible for zero dead Jews. I fear the uncut version could very well cause this number to double.

Posted by: Pontius at March 11, 2005 4:58 PM

When "The Passion of the Christ" came out last year, I wrote an essay that Orrin posted. I thought the negatives outweighed the positives. (See

Now, a year later, I would say that the positives outweigh the negatives. For millions of Protestants and Catholics,
"The Passion" has strengthened their faith. For Jews and Christians, it has stimulated dialogue and respect for their respective religions. I did not expect a wave of anti-semitic incidents in the U.S. and that expectation has borne out. I was more concerned about Europe and the Mideast. The United States is the best country in the world to be Jewish. But the fear of anti-semitism endures among Jewish Americans. Dennis Prager wrote in his column "The Passion: Jews and Christians Are Watching Different Films" ( that Every Jew, secular, religious, assimilated, left-wing, right-wing, fears being killed because he is Jewish. This is the best-kept secret about Jews, who are widely perceived as inordinately secure and powerful. But it is the only universally held sentiment among Jews. After the Holocaust and with Islamic terrorists seeking to murder Jews today, this, too, is not paranoid.

Posted by: Jim Siegel at March 11, 2005 8:43 PM

The ticket sales are in, and nobody went.

It's like holding a Nascar race and guaranteeing no wrecks.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at March 15, 2005 2:47 AM