Vol 1, No 2 (2005) Wrestling with The Passion of the Christ: At The Movies with Roland Barthes and Mel Gibson

WRESTLING WITH THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: AT THE MOVIES WITH ROLAND BARTHES AND MEL GIBSON

Richard Walsh

ABSTRACT

Gibson offers his spectacle of Christ suffering as a reel sacrament. To do so, he writes the Hollywood passion hero and the legalistic Western Christian myth over Jesus, or lifts the sign of Jesus’ suffering into those mythic orders. In the West, as Gibson’s success shows, this myth often masquerades as the nature of things. This myth transforms us into bastards who consume the suffering of others at a safe distance. We can confess this myth, as if it were a hierophany, or we can wrestle with it, exposing it as an interpretation.

KEYWORDS

Mel Gibson; Passion of the Christ; Gospels: Film

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