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Interview: Tom Allen on “The Passion of the Christ”

posted by Nell Minow

The Passion of The Christ is making its commercial television debut on UP TV on Palm Sunday night, April 13, with limited commercial interruptions and edits approved by the producers.  I spoke to Tom Allen who worked closely with Mel Gibson on the distribution and marketing of the landmark film ten years ago and co-wrote A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions About The Passion of The Christ, which became a million-selling NYT bestseller and served as the tip-of-the-spear of the film’s historic grassroots marketing campaign.  He said that the old Bible epics of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, were followed by “such a dearth in the intervening decades,” but that “there is so much excitement, so much pressure building on the part of the faith community for serious Hollywood movies” that explore the Bible.  What made “The Passion of the Christ” possible was the involvement of a major Hollywood figure, Mel Gibson.  While there were concerns about the violence, the portrayal of the Jews, and the use of Biblical-era Aramaic for the dialog.  But “the controversy added to what I contend was a condition of great excitement.  It broadened interest beyond the faith-based community to general audiences.” The language was “another brilliant choice, adding another element of authenticity.”

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He is especially proud of the cinematography, “like a Caravaggio painting,” which also added to the film’s feeling of authenticity and reality, adding to the sense of the history and the teachings behind what was portrayed on screen.  Ten years after it was released, it “holds up very well.  It is the gold standard, and its influence has been significant.”  He is proud that it will be shown on UP TV during Holy Week.

 

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