Gary North on The Passion:
Gibson is doing what no other movie producer in history has ever attempted. He has self-consciously attempted to make this a universal movie: equally closed to all grammatically, yet equally open to all through subtitles. We are all equally dependent on the subtitles. We are all equally riveted (or appalled) by what we see on-screen.
This is not an American movie. This is a universal movie. I have never heard of anything like this before. This movie is to movies what the Latin mass used to be to Roman Catholic liturgy. It is a self-conscious attempt to separate the film's words from today's linguistic context, and also tomorrow's, no matter who you are or where you live. Gibson, by adopting an Aramaic screenplay in the name of historical accuracy, has universalized the film. A Protestant would not have attempted this. Only a Latin mass Catholic would have. Gibson understood what language is all about.
As a Protestant, I rejoiced at Vatican II's liturgical reform. I knew that this shift to the vernacular would do more to de-legitimize Catholicism's claim of universality than anything the church had done since 1054 (the East-West split). A vernacular liturgy was John Wycliffe's reform. I could not have been more pleased. So far, I think I have been correct. The Roman church is now as plagued by guitars as Protestant churches are. Nashville has invaded Rome.
Mel Gibson is not pleased. I regard The Passion as his personal statement sent to Vatican II's surviving promoters: "This story is worth telling in a dead language. It is better told in a dead language." On this point, I side with Mr. Gibson rather than Mr. Wycliffe. But remember: it's a movie. That's entertainment.