• 50°

Mel Gibson’s Passion’ previewed, described as powerful,’ intense’

[2/24/04]Christians seeing an advance showing of “The Passion of the Christ” Monday night at a cinema in Clinton described the experience as intense.

“It’s hard to describe,” said Gilda Miller, one of 300 First Presbyterian Church members who filled the theater to see the movie that will be released nationally Wednesday. “I kept thinking God loved his Son, and us, enough to give up his Son for our sins,” Miller said.

More advance showings were expected to be packed today in Vicksburg and around the nation for the Mel Gibson movie that tracks the hours leading to the death by crucifixion of Jesus.

The love of Mary, Jesus’ mother, was evident for another moviegoer, Kay Boolos.

“I didn’t truly appreciate the sacrifice until I saw it through Mary’s eyes,” she said. “I think it’s really important for everyone to see what Christ did for us, what we owe Him and see how determined Christ was to see his Father’s will.”

The film, co-written and directed by Gibson who also footed the $25 million bill, has met with criticism that it might kindle anti-Jewish fervor. Jerusalem, where Jesus was executed 2,000 years ago, was under captivity as part of the Roman Empire, but local Jewish leaders delivered Jesus to the occupying authorities.

“It was a monumental experience,” Todd Boolos said. “It was a vivid depiction of what we’ve all read about. It was touching to see it live.”

The film shows Christ’s final 12 hours in detail, including violence at the hands of a mob scene and the Roman method of execution by nailing people to crossed timbers and leaving them to die.

“It is graphic. But if we had been there 2,000 years ago, it would have been far worse,” said the Rev. Dr. Steve Bryant, pastor of First Presbyterian.

Bryant said he’ll take his 12-year-old son to see the movie, but his 10-year-old daughter will have to wait.

“I wanted to see it for myself first,” he said. “But my son is 12 years old, and he’s mature enough to see it.

“This is faith, based on the gospel, and I want him to be able to experience the truth of the gospel.”

Bryant said watching the movie was one of the most powerful experiences of his life.

“It’s the most moving piece of film I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“This is an experience very similar to the first time I went to the Holy Land,” he said. “I grew up with a very deep belief, but to see that place brought it to life for me. I think the film will do the same thing for millions of people.”

Bryant said he hopes others will see the movie.

“I think it’s important for every person to have the opportunity to connect on a very deep level with the sacrifice of Christ,” he said.

At least one other local church, Bowmar Baptist, has arranged a mass viewing of the film at the Clinton theater.