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Film Critics Ebert and Roeper Praise 'Passion'

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We must remember that this is a Catholic, Ecumenical Movie. These guys speak also as atholics! That can be seen in the article: "The Passion is a Mass" and others in the section on the Bottom Line of the Movie.

"Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and he has created a 2,000-year-old world brimming with authentic details.''

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ won't be released until Wednesday, but it's already one of the most controversial films in history.

For months Gibson has been showing rough cuts of the movie to religious leaders in an effort to stem mounting criticism that his interpretation of the last hours of Jesus' life will foster anti-Semitism.

And now America's most prominent film critics, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper are weighing in.

This weekend on their nationally syndicated show, they're offering an exclusive early review of the completed version of Mel Gibson's new film.

Ebert and Roeper made the following remarks about the film and the controversy surrounding its release:

ROEPER: ''This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film. Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and he has created a 2,000-year-old world brimming with authentic details.''

EBERT: ''I was also deeply moved by The Passion of the Christ, which in excruciating details does follow the blood-soaked Stations of the Cross. Christianity has focused on the physical wounds of Jesus to show that he suffered, as well as died, for man's sins, and this movie makes it real.''

ROEPER: ''As for concerns of anti-Semitism: Caiphas does lead the call for Jesus to die, and Pontius Pilate is depicted as more conflicted than most historical records indicate. But other temple leaders question the rush to condemn Jesus, and it's the Roman soldiers who are portrayed as sadistic animals throughout this film. This movie does not blame all Jews past and present for the death of Jesus, a descendant of Judah.''

EBERT: ''It's a very great film. It's the only religious film I've seen with the exception of The Gospel According to Matthew, by Pasolini, that really seems to deal directly with what happened instead of with all kinds of sentimental eyes, cleaned up, post card versions of it.''

ROEPER: ''With The Passion of the Christ, I know there'll be protest groups in front of the theater. I hope they at least go into the theater and see the movie first, and then decide if they want to protest the actual film.''

EBERT: ''I think the controversy was very premature and was based on people that hadn't seen the film, and who are going to be a little surprised at what's actually in the film.''

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