While he’s not generally my first choice in local film reviewers the Toronto Sun’s Bruce Kirkland does come up with an article that bears mention from time to time. And this is one of those times. Kirkland’s weekly DVD review column is this week completely consumed by a lengthy diatribe against the decision to release Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ in an utterly bare bones format when if ever there was a film that merited a closer look and wide ranging discussion this is it. The core of Kirkland’s problem is this:
… the wide-ranging controversy has not abated and tomorrow’s release of the film on DVD will not change anything.
That is because Gibson has opted out, or copped out (and I think foolishly), by presenting The Passion Of The Christ without any support materials, without any explanations, without any platform for intelligent discussion and debate.
In other words, whether you buy the handsome widescreen edition or the adulterated fullscreen edition, you get the 126-minute film and absolutely nothing else.
No trailer. No Easter Eggs (sorry!). No feature-length commentary. No making-of insights. No group sessions bringing together people of different faiths to talk about the film’s content. No nothing. A glorious opportunity for enlightenment has been wasted.
Whether you agree or disagree, it’s a solid article and well worth checking out in its entirety here. While I’m not nearly as inclined to speculate on the rationale for the bare-bones release as Kirkland is – I can think of a couple legit reasons, including the standard David Lynch and Woody Allen mantra that the film should be left to succeed or fail on its own merits – I do have to confess to being more than a little surprised. I honestly can’t remember the last time an event film of this scale, with the potential to trigger discussions in so many directions, has been presented in such a spartan fashion. The cynic in me says to expect a loaded up special edition just in time for Easter next year …
Oh … and just as a little sidebar Kirkland also listed a selection of worthwhile Jesus-related films on DVD that you can find here. A good mix of sacred and profane, well known and obscure titles …