March 15, 2004

If it worked once .... Though only one crucifixion was needed to save all humanity, Hollywood seems to think if one crucifixion movie was hugely successful, there ought to be more of the same. Read "Hollywood Rethinking Faith Films After 'Passion'" in today's NYT. Gibson's film is a "faith film" in the most literal sense, because it was not concocted as a money-making venture. Hollywood would be continuing on its usual path of trying to make money by making more of whatever has worked in the past. One could say making money is the "faith" behind every Hollywood film, in which case there is nothing to "rethink"--all Hollywood films are "faith films."
The movie's box-office success has been chewed over in studio staff meetings and at pricey watering holes all over Hollywood, echoed in interviews with numerous executives in the last week. In marketing departments the film is regarded as pure genius; its director, Mel Gibson, is credited with stoking a controversy that yanked the film from the margins of the culture to center stage, presenting it as a must-see.

If only someone had filmed that. I would pay to see the edited footage of those meetings! "Chewing over" the popularity of the crucifixion! "Pure genius" to "stoke a controversy" about anti-semitism as a publicity stunt! What else could we do that would be like that??

Is Disney at least going to put the Christianity back into "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," after they tried to take it out to make the movie more widely marketable? Disney is still saying "We are intent on not making this into a Christian movie ... But it will be seen by many loyal readers as a very Christian movie." What does that mean? If you know the book you'll get the Christian part, but if not, it's just a lion story?

What else do these Passion-inflamed producers have in store for us? Please no old-style Bible epics with Gladiator-style special effects. I'd like to see a literal depiction of the book of Revelation, an animation in the style of Spirited Away. (Spirited Away is a great example of a religious movie. I'd also like to see a Spirited Away-like animation of The Life of Pi, which has religious themes.)

According to the article, there's a TV series based on Revelation, done in an X-files way, that NBC has picked up. A nun and a scientist discover evidence of end times. Presumably, a very pretty nun and a hip scientist. TV can do some things much better than film. I'd watch a TV series about a teenaged Jesus, set in present-day America, and his relationship with his parents, played by Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen.

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