Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #14

Re: The Passion of the Christ: First Impressions (2004)

In your article “The Passion of the Christ: First Impressions,” you call the film “a preeminently important cinematic expression of the faith — probably one of the most important religious films of all time.” Yet the movie is not rated in your website. It seems a glaring omission. I believe it should be included and rated as an A+ movie, spiritual value +4 and entertainment value 4 stars.

I wrote three different articles on The Passion of the Christ from different perspectives. At that point, an additional “review” seemed superfluous.

Ratings can be useful, but in the end appreciation isn’t about numbers (letter grades, stars, etc.). C. S. Lewis didn’t need a rating to write about the greatness of The Lord of the Rings or Paradise Lost.

Furthermore, in the case of a controversial film like The Passion of the Christ ratings can actually obscure what the critic has to say. Readers glance at the rating to get the “bottom line,” and then praise or censure the critic for his conclusions without really engaging how he articulates and defends those conclusions.

Sometimes, I would rather oblige readers to do the hard work of actually looking at what I have to say, rather than just agreeing or disagreeing with a number. (Cf. also my pieces on The Last Temptation of Christ, The Magdalene Sisters and Luther all written as articles and published without ratings.)

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