As often as I've been to England, I'd never been to Stonehenge before. I drove my brother and his family the some 90 miles from Exeter to the famed stone circle today; it was worth the trip. Today was a lovely, crisp, sunny spring-like day, and we were able to climb some fine barrow mounds near Stonehenge as well.
The Passion has opened in England to almost universally hostile reviews. The other night, the BBC aired a perfectly awful program on Mel Gibson, entitled "Mel Gibson: God's Lethal Weapon". Here is a link to the Guardian's summary of British newspaper reviews:
After all the fuss and controversy, what a "terrible disappointment" The Passion of the Christ turned out
to be for Cosmo Landesman in the Sunday Times. The director, Mel Gibson, is only interested in Jesus's suffering. "Where is Jesus the inspiring teacher? Gibson literally gives us the body of Christ and not much else ... The violence is visceral. Raw. Relentless. You squirm in your seat." The devout might be inspired by all this, Landesman said, but for most it is "violence overkill". Any "thematic richness" had been washed away "in the rivers of blood" and the film ended up with "nothing to say".
The direction was "oddly bogus", thought Jenny McCartney in the Sunday Telegraph. And the film was let down by its "fundamental crudity of vision", which "surges energetically into every scene, blotting out much of the pathos and humanity of the passion story".
In the Mail on Sunday, Matthew Bond agreed with those critics who found the film anti-semitic, "given that it portrays a blood-hungry Jewish mob baying for ... Christ to be crucified". But Gibson also "goes out of his way to heap as much blame as possible on the Romans, who, the spineless Pilate apart, are all portrayed as violent psychopaths".
In the Independent on Sunday, however, Jonathan Romney argued that the film clearly identified the Jews as "the master criminals".
Yikes. I don't think I saw the same film. Or I just saw it perhaps through radically different eyes -- through the eyes, perhaps, of the devout whom Landesman treats so typically dismissively.