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31.3.04

The Passion Opens in France

Although there were attempts to block the movie from being shown in France, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ opened today on over 500 screens there, distributed by Tunisian producer Tarak Ben Ammar (see the article on him by Nicole Vulser, Tarak Ben Ammar, l'ami des milliardaires [Tarak Ben Ammar, friend of billionaires], in Le Monde, March 31). Three brothers named Patrick, Gérard, and Jean-Marc Benlolo had asked the French government, as "Jewish citizens of France," to ban Gibson's movie from French theaters because, they claimed, its erroneous adaptation of the New Testament would provoke antisemitism "since the Jewish people are presented in it as a deicidal people" (see this article from Le Nouvel Observateur, March 29). The panel of judges rejected these claims and authorized the film's release.

The story of the film's premiere is reported by Marie-Noëlle Tranchant, <<La Passion du Christ>> gagne la France (in Le Figaro, March 31). This article is accompanied by several others (follow the links on that page), and the media blitz on the premiere is impressive: reports from some of the first viewers in France from Agence France-Presse; it was called, among other things, "in bad taste, heavy, naive, and idiotic" and "an absolute joke in terms of history" by the critics at Libération. More to follow.

For past commentary on the movie at Ionarts, see Jens Laurson's review on March 17 and my posts on February 29 and March 5.

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