A Comparison Between The Passion of the Christ and The Greatest Story Ever Told: (A Look at How One of the Most Known Stories in History Is Told through Cinema)

         What makes a good film? Some say, it is the acting. Others say a good film is made of creative cinematography and good editing. But most film experts have said that good story telling is what makes a film good. The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Passion of the Christ both tell the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came from Heaven to earth to give eternal life to all those who accept it. The Greatest Story Ever Told, directed by George Stevens, tells the story of Christ starting from His birth, through His ministry and to the death and resurrection. Directed by Mel Gibson, the controversial The Passion of the Christ tells the last twelve hours of Christ's life, in which he is betrayed by Judas Iscariot and crucified.

         Released in 2004, The Passion of the Christ stirred up all kinds of fusion from the Jewish Community. Jews all around cried out that Gibson was anti-Semite. But in several different interviews, Mr. Gibson denied the accusations every time. The angry Jewish people said that Gibson had made the film portray that the Jews were the ones that put Jesus to death. In the scene where Jesus in on trail in front of Pontius Pilate, someone in the crowd is yelling, "Crucify Him.” "Let His blood be on our children's lives." But in order to here this cry, the viewer must know the Aramaic language, because the subtitle does not show up on the screen. Gibson knew if he put this line on the subtitles, he would really feel the mob on his back.

         In the way The Passion of the Christ tells the story of Christ is completely different from the way in which George Stevens tells his story. The Passion of the Christ shows flashbacks of Christ's childhood and different parts of His ministry. In The Greatest Story Ever Told, we see the gentle and loving Christ. We see how He taught His disciples to follow Him and that everything they do, they were to do it in the name of the Lord. In The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson does not show much of the times that Christ spent with His disciples. Although, the film does start out with Peter, John and James sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane, when they should have been praying; not much else of the disciples are shown in the story. Peter and John are the most seen in the film. John stays by Jesus' mother, Mary, and Mary Magdelene to comfort them while Jesus is being tried, beaten and crucified. Peter is seen throughout the film hiding from everyone because he is shameful for denying Christ three times just like Christ prophesied.

         The way both films portray Satan is very similar. They portray him in a subtle way when Jesus is being tempted. When Judas Iscariot is on his way to betray Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told, he bumps into Satan in a dark alley, not knowing who he is. In The Passion of the Christ, Judas is tormented by demons after he has accepted the thirty pieces of silver that bought Jesus= capture. Later in the film, we see Judas hang himself.

         Both The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Passion of the Christ tell the story of Jesus Christ in a moving way. The Passion of the Christ is much more graphic when it comes to the Crucifixion scenes and it was criticized for doing so. The Greatest Story Ever Told, shot in Arizona and Utah, is a bit long, and it raised a question of reality, not to mention that the acting was not the best. The Passion of the Christ, filmed mostly in Italy is almost perfect. With captivating cinematography, tremendous acting and great storytelling, the film, although very controversial, it is one of the best films of this age.

         Although Steven’s film is much more detailed in the storytelling aspect of Jesus’ life, through the Passion of the Christ, we see several flashbacks of Jesus’ early life and childhood. We see him being very human and working on a table and chair for him and his family to eat at. We see him fall down as a child and his mother coming to his rescue. This is all very interesting to see before we see him go through literal hell and endure all the pain that he encountered for a cause that almost no one else believed in.

         The two films are told wonderfully but in different aspects and through different tactics. Both films have smart and interesting cinematography to go along with the great story telling.

         Here is a review of The Greatest Story Ever Told by Dennis Schwartz from http://www.sover.net to get a look at what other people think about this film.

             "If this is the greatest story ever told I can imagine how horrid is the worst story ever told. Producer-director-co writer George Steven's ("Giant"/"The Diary of Anne Frank") epic religious drama, based on the best seller by Fulton Oursler "The Greatest Story Ever Told," is an intolerable reverential treatment on the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The $20 million lavish production shot mostly in Monument Valley, Utah (supposedly it looks like the Holy Land), and in Ultra Panavision 70 widescreen, is overlong and tedious. It's filled with inconsequential cameos that range from John Wayne as a Roman centurion at the crucifixion proclaiming: "Truly this man was the son of Gaard" and Shelley Winters as the Woman of No Name screaming "I'm cured." Most of the cameos are unintentionally comical, while the story remains lifeless and uninspiring. Swedish actor Max von Sydow is an austere blond Jesus whose fine performance, the best one in the pic, is undermined by the film's static nature, poor pacing and too many poor performances from all those unnecessary cameos. It seems almost every Hollywood actor did a set piece, making the length seem interminable. In one of the more enticing scenes Donald Pleasance as the Devil enters into a match of wits with Jesus, but von Sydow refuses to engage him, and the scene fizzles like all the others."

Work Cited

Schwartz , Dennis “Review of The Greatest Story Ever Told (http.//www.sovern net)

Derek Owen

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