I’ve been working on improving my Italian, so I decided to tackle translating some the columns that Umberto Eco, one of my favorite writers, writes regularly for L’Espresso. Please note that this translation is without doubt riddled with errors and that the views expressed do not reflect my own. I’m not finished with this one yet, as there’s a few references that are presently beyond me, but as the subject seems timely, I thought I’d post part of it now:
The Passion is a film that wants to rake in lots of money by offering lots of blood and enough violence to make Pulp Fiction look like an animated cartoon. Well, yes, since I was fearing a series of questions, I decided to resolve the affair once and for all and went to see Mel Gibson’s Passion….I must quickly say that this film, which was done very well in technical terms, is not an expression of antisemitism or of Christian fundamentalism, but instead of an obsession with the mysticism of a gory sacrifice. It is splatterpunk, a film intended to rake in lots of money by offering oceans of blood and enough violence to make Pulp Fiction look like an animated cartoon for a children’s school. Except a cartoon like Tom and Jerry never places the whole object of the lesson in the incidents where the characters are flattened like CDs being crushed by a steamroller, where they are falling from skyscrapers and broken into a million pieces or crushed behind a door. There is so much blood, gallons of it, that it appears to have been harvested by the work of every vampire in Transylvania, and brought to the set by ten tanker-trucks….
Gibson’s hatred for the Nazarene must be inexpressable, who can say what ancient repressions he harbors as he pours more and more torture onto the Nazarene’s body, and thank God the story does not permit him, otherwise he would have applied electrodes to Christ’s testicles and poured gasoline into his wounds. This would give a healthy jolt to the mystery of Salvation…. Gibson leaps at the idea that Jesus had to suffer; like Poe, he thinks that the most moving and romantic thing is the death of a beautiful girl, and he senses that the more profitable ‘splatter’ will be that in which he puts the Son of God in a meatgrinder. There, he succeeds extremely well and I must say that, when Jesus is finally dead and has finished his suffering, (or enjoyment), when the hurricane is unleashed, the earth shakes and the Temple veil is torn, we find a certain emotion in that moment, we discern a hint of that transcendence that the film does such a disastrous disservice.
Yes, at that point the Father makes his voice heard. But the enlightened viewer, (and, I hope, the believer), perceives that at that point, it is with him and Mel Gibson that the Father is pissed off.