04/07/2004, 00.00
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'The Passion of the Christ': "A milestone in the cinema history"

It is the positive evaluation of the Bishops' Film Reviewers

Manila (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Initiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation (CINEMA), the movie reviewing body of the Office on Women of the Philippine Bishop's Conference described Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ" as a film which "weds fact and faith, and is infinitely larger than life, when portrayed with a competence that transcends mere technique (and) becomes a perfect work of art."

"This film blends mystery of subject with a mastery of handling, thus, reviewing it justly calls for a framework that is no less unique," the group stated in its weekly review released today. "Likewise, the reviewer, while remaining guided by the usual yardstick measuring a movie's technical merits, must, in translating thoughts into words, invoke the very spirit that brought this movie into being as the paean to the Savior that it is."

"A milestone has been reached in cinema history with this film," the review board declared. "Its greatest achievement lies not simply in its technical excellence but in its being witness to a radical faith that has turned a movie into a powerful media for entering the mysterious."

Established five years ago, CINEMA is composed of dedicated professional, moral and film literate volunteers, the majority of whom are lay, who conduct weekly film reviews and classifies films on the basis of their technical and moral strength and weaknesses.

The film reviewers gave "The Passion" five points for its moral assessment and five stars on the technical qualities. This is the first time that CINEMA gave such a high rating for any film shown in the country.

The film which was first shown publically a week ago continues to draw many viewers, especially those from nearby provinces. Weeks before its official showing, however, film copies have been pirated into VCDs and DVDs (sold for US 1.50 dollar) and have been circulating around the country. For some it is a blessing, "At least the film can be seen by a wider audience, especially in areas where there are no movie houses."

CINEMA cautions the viewers however, that though it carries a true religious message, it may not be appropriate for everyone. The commission added that whatever one's purpose of seeing the film is, viewers should approach "Tha Passion" with respect. "This is not a popcorn movie," it stated. (S.E.)

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