.- The renowned film-reviewing duo, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, has given Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of The Christ” their highest trademark rating: two thumbs way up.
The pair offered an early review of the movie, which will hit theaters Feb. 25, on their syndicated series “Ebert & Roeper.”
“This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film,” said Roeper, calling Gibson “a masterful storyteller.”
Ebert said it is the only religious movie he has even seen, with the exception of “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”, “that really seems to deal with what actually happened.”
The movie “focuses relentlessly on the price that Christ paid for redemption and it emphasizes that Jesus wanted this to happen,” said Ebert. “His death was the instrument of his purpose, and we should be grateful to him instead of critical of those who were the instruments of his will.
“I don't think the movie is anti-Semitic,” said Ebert, addressing the film’s controversy that has swept the media. Roeper added that the movie “does not blame all Jews past and present for the death of Jesus.”
“Christ was born as a Jew, his disciples were Jewish,” said Ebert. “Yes, some Jewish priests call for his death. They were threatened by his assault on their establishment. … Most of the Jews in this movie are horrified by what they see.”