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A lying little snuff film.
1 March 2004
If Mel Gibson was sincerely interested in depicting an undistorted and unbiased representation of the Gospels---then his Jesus would not be Caucasian. It's that simple.

This film is nothing more than a masochistic, masturbatory exercise for most True Believers who praise it; a gruesome gorefest for those who confuse extreme and involuntary repulsion with spiritual enlightenment. Because they are profoundly disturbed by the sadistic depictions they witness---they think they've witnessed something profound, when it's actually very simple cause and effect and they would be equally repulsed watching such punishment inflicted upon any creature. But making Jesus the subject of such cinematic abuse turns it into a noble cause and worthy experience to many.

The most self-centered aspect of this exercise in self-flagellation becomes evident when one considers those who say Christ's coming and persecution was prophesied and preordained. Because this means the Romans who these viewers watch torture and crucify Jesus in this orgy of abuse are simply making the Christian calling and God's will possible; so they are all part of the Divine Plan. The Romans are just doing what has to by done according to the ordinance of God and belief system of those who endorse the prophesies. Furthermore, such viewers have willingly come to watch this being done for their own gratifications and to fill their own needs, many bringing their children in violation of the law (the film is rated R), while paying money for the dubious pleasures and benefits of the experience. And, by and large, they do this knowing what they are going to be watching before they watch it. (There's a word for that sort of behavior, and let's just hope most stop it before they go blind or grow hair on their palms.)

Mel Gibson makes it very clear in this film that his primary view of the Christian experience is a fixation on torment, and he is committed to tormenting millions of moviegoers willing to submit to his torment and pay him millions of dollars for admission to the flesh-ripping spectacle, like Romans at the Coliseum. In Gibson's film, the Resurrection is given short-shrift---a quick nod then it's over, because the only real catharsis Mel relates to (and his only thuggish hook for holding his viewers) is that of blood redemption through endless lacerations, gougings, and a simpleton's palette of brutal, nauseating images. The tortures actually described in the Gospels are gruesome enough, but the fact that Gibson piles on so much more of this stuff beyond that which is described in the Bible speaks volumes.

There is no story arc to speak of, just a dull and predictable tedium of jackbooted assaults, with thin, shallow characterizations across the board. It's hard to fault the actors; they are all capable but they've been given little of complexity or nuance to play. They're just pawns onscreen, shifting positions according to direction, there to either participate or observe while Mel feeds Jesus to the lions, bit by bloody bit. So all there is really left to ponder is the filmmakers' motivations.

Mel Gibson's highly-selective use of passages from the Bible for the basis of his highly-slanted depictions, picking and choosing only those parts which best foist his own festering views, combine with Jesus blatantly misrepresented once again as being a white guy (merely the first of Mel's lies going into this film)---to fulfill Gibson's own grandiose sense of martyrdom. Top that with the big bucks he's generating by doing so, and you've either got a stunning cynicism or a boorish naivete or both, wrapped up in colossal he claims "religious persecution" simply because his work is held up to scrutiny like any other filmmaker and not blindly accepted as some divine and infallible work. It is self-righteous arrogance of the highest order.

It's that simple. It's that sick.
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11 January 2004
This is a great movie which much more historically accurate than it is often given credit for. So many who say otherwise are ill-informed and obviously don't know much about the actual history of that actual escape. The depiction of what happened to the recaptured prisoners in the movie of THE GREAT ESCAPE is reasonably accurate as detailed on the historyinfilm site...specifically on the "Reprisal" page; along with being detailed in the various published accounts.

Hitler ultimately calmed down after being reasoned with by Goering, Feldmarschall Keitel, Maj-Gen Graevenitz and Maj-Gen Westhoff, and dictated that more than half the prisoners be shot and cremated. So, as depicted in the film, several of those recaptured were not executed and were indeed returned to confinement. In fact, even those executed were not "shot on the spot" for the most part, but were actually executed later after being turned over to the Gestapo; most being shot while being allowed to relieve themselves, under the guise of "trying to escape".

Furthermore, there are many accounts as to how much more humane the environment was within the camp (which even had a popular and very successful theatre, featuring prisoners who would later be name performers) than many other POW camps...and certainly nothing like the harsh conditions associated with the Concentration or Extermination camps.

To quote one source:

"It must be made clear that the German Luftwaffe [the German Air Force], who were responsible for Air Force prisoners of war, maintained a degree of professional respect for fellow flyers, and the general attitude of the camp security officers and guards should not be confused with the SS or Gestapo. The Luftwaffe treated the POWs well, despite an erratic and inconsistent supply of food.

Prisoners were handled quite fairly within the Geneva Convention, and the Kommandant, Oberst (Colonel) Friedrich-Wilhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau, was a professional and honourable soldier who won the respect of the senior prisoners."

Finally, virtually all the major engineering aspects in regards to the tunnels and the initial escape in the film are as they were actually acheived in the real escape.

It would behoove some to learn a little more actual history or do a little simple research before shooting from the hip with supposed "knowledge" of reality. THE GREAT ESCAPE certainly takes liberties in tone and character portrayal, but not in the key elements that are disparaged out of sneering ignorance.

BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI is also a great film, but took even greater liberties with the technical details of the events described than THE GREAT ESCAPE did....and offering up VON RYAN'S EXPRESS as a more realistic alternative is simply delusional and ridiculous.
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