Thursday, August 28, 2003

In class the other day, I offered the question,
"What is the difference between a medieval passion play and Mel Gibson's The Passion?"
A classmate shot back, "The medieval passion plays were written in the language people actually spoke," i.e. the vernacular of the plays' audiences.

Of course, as one of my friends had to remind me (idiot that I am, I didn't notice it right away), not only is Latin not the vernacular of The Passion's audience, but it wasn't even the vernacular of first century Palestine. What did Jesus speak? Aramaic and Greek.

In other words, while the passion plays offered the death of Jesus to their viewers in a language and surrounded by a culture that brought the passion closer to the audience, the movie's choice of language will distance the events both from viewers and from "history". I wonder what Gibson thinks he's trying to say with these intentional or unintentional linguistic choices?


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