Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Passach of the Christ?

You have to hand it to him- little Mel Gibson has really put the world in a tizzy with his Passion of the Christ movie. The diminutive antipodean is the consumate showman, Elmer Gantry mit boomerang, having motivated half the planet to flock to the multiplex in reverent awe and half to stomp indignantly to the ticket booth in order to spend two gruesome hours incandesent with rage. Love it or hate it, the Passion of the Christ has people both talking and handing over cash to see it.

I for one have not plunked down seven bucks to watch this Aramaic bondage movie. For one thing, I'm still boycotting the Brit-hating Gibson for the counter-factual The Patriot and Braveheart (turning the other cheek doesn't mean flapping the arse of your kilt, wee Mel.) Besides, I have no desire to sully my reverent awe of the greatest biblical epic ever made, The Life of Brian. Still, it pains me to see Gibbo having to defend his art against charges of anti-semitism and bigotry, if only because I dread seeing what his remake of D.W. Griffith's Intolerance would be like ("G'Day mate; we're the Ku Klux Klan!")

Gibson has sought to point out the sympathetic Jewish characters in the movie and has even cut the line where the Virgin Mary laments that all of Jesus's classmates went on to be doctors or lawyers but he had to be the messiah. Agahst that the "Jews of Mass Destruction" he portrays on the screen couldn't be found in the Bible, Mel has offered to make amends by directing a movie about the brave defenders of Massada, possibly with Billy Bob Thornton as Maccabaeus. To my mind, he doesn't have to commit the time or money to such a project. He could easily restore his image with non-insanely evangelical world by allowing a remake by a different Mel, as in Mel Brooks.

By allowing us to laugh at racism in Blazing Saddles and facism in The Producers, Mel Brooks helped remove the "monster under the bed" aspect and allowed us to see in part how pathetic, ludicrous, and laughable those discredited belief systems are. Imagine then what Brooks could do with anti-semitism if he had a whole film to skewer it with, rather than just a dance number in History of the World, Part One.

The beauty of it is that because so many of The Passion's devotees consider mainstream cinema to be the work of satan, Brook's doesn't even have to write a new script, and can instead just cobble together bits of his previous films into a new whole presented in aramaic, latin, and yiddish.

With Jackie Mason or Brooks himself as Christ you are guaranteed a mensch of a savior. I see either a Max Byalistock or Hedley Lamarr type as Pilate, and maybe a Mungo in the Judas role ("Forty-pieces-of-sliver-gram for Mister Mungo!") Imagine the disciples enjoying a last supper punctuated by uncontrolled farting. Mary Magdelene (played by Madeline Kahn) singing "Sick and Tired of Love." Maybe even a Jesus who holds a hammer to his own head shouting "Nobody move or the Jew gets it!" Ah yes, it's good to be the Christ.

With Brooks on board, there is a chance that the Passion could become the biggest apostolic musical since Jesus Christ, Superstar. Who could resist singing along with "Springtime for Jesus, in Galilee"?

Keep your fingers crossed that the Australian midget with more accent confusion than Madonna sees the light and plumps for this Mel Brooks' version. The only alternative would be to turn to Woody Allen, and if you think the Christian right hate Jewish people now, wait till after they have seen their savior as an aging neurotic nebbish with an implausibly young girlfriend and jokes that weren't fuuny in 1967.

No comments: