Mel Gibson has cut five minutes of violence from The Passion of the Christ and is bringing this “special edition” to theatres.

So, is this the “Director’s Cut”? The “Lacerated Edition”? The “Flogged Version”?

Here’s the story.

My real question: Which five minutes? Is the crow eating the thief’s eyes gone? The barbed whip to the gut? The nail-pounding? The “flip the cross over” maneuver? The crown of thorn pressing? A few of the many stumbles along the path? I thought the whole point was to “put us there” for every drop of blood along the way?

As I’ve said before, I admire the film in some ways, but I’m disappointed by it in other ways. There are many films that bring me to a rewarding meditation on the sufferings of Christ without bludgeoning me so intensely that I can’t think straight.

And after hearing so many come to the defense of the film’s extreme violence, I wonder… why back-pedal now? Is this an admission that it was too violent to begin with? I really want to believe that this isn’t just another way to milk money from the Christian audience. (There was recently a news report that Gibson just bought a whole tropical island where he and his family and friends can hang out. An odd investment to make after the success of this film.)

If this re-release is intended as a way to broaden the film’s evangelical reach, is a slightly-less-violent version really going to draw viewers who didn’t see it last time around?

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