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The power of
The Passion of The Christ
About the Author
Martin McCool is a graduate in Theology, History and Education from Mater Dei Institute in Dublin. After spending some years teaching, he turned to writing and has now worked five years as a film reviewer.
About the Book & Reviews:
“I have been so blessed by the content of Martin’s book ‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’. This book review of Mel Gibson’s film truly moved me and I wish Martin every blessing with it in the future.”
- Pat Murphy, Wexford
“I must say it's absolutely stunning. All that I felt from ‘day one’ is in this book - you have captured the magic of this film in a way I never thought was possible.”
- Bitte Assarmo, Film Reviewer, Sweden
“I got absorbed in reading the book and couldn't tear myself away from it. An outstanding, scholarly, in-depth look at one of the most important movies ever made.”
- Rebecca Bryles, U.S.A.
“I’ve read and indeed re-read Martin Mc Cool’s amazing book. It was very enlightening and gave me much pause for thought and reflection. I think he has written a truly beautiful devotional piece. Martin Mc Cool has done something few could manage – written an emotionally and spiritually honest book. ‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ is a work utterly devoid of cynicism in a darkly cynical age. It should be read by anyone with an interest in religion, in film or in postmodern culture.”
-Shane Dunphy, Bestselling author of ‘Wednesday’s Child’
“Thank you very much for your endurance in dealing with this hard topic of Christ so profoundly. I surely wish that in this way you profited personally a lot and that you can help others well along the difficult path of finding a deeper heart-to-heart connection with the real Jesus Christ who has overcome so much, especially in respect to loving one’s enemy which is rarely seen in today’s world.”
-Natasha Chigrina, Russia
“In reading ‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ one encounters an author of consummate skill and, of course, one has a unique encounter with the subject of the book Himself. The incredible patience of Mc Cool in pursuing every incident, every nuance of the filming of the world’s most outstanding historical figure, and the organising and assembling of his findings in most readable English, bespeaks genius.”
- Michael P. Nolan, Serra International
Many people who watched The Passion of The Christ said that they were able to forget about everything else in the world while watching the film. Martin Mc Cool was one of those people. The reason is because your own troubles pale into perspective when you see what Christ went through for us on Good Friday.
The book opens with the quote from John’s Gospel - “There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends” – one of the inestimable truths in the film.
Published in Ireland by Choice Publishing, 'The power of The Passion of The Christ' is a unique journey through Mel Gibson's film and provides endless talking points. The first newspaper review of the book in the Donegal Democrat has described it as “every bit as powerful as the film.”
On the front and back cover, the book features the artwork of Austrian artist Magdalena Leitner. “The front cover depicts the moment in the film where Christ willingly embraces the cross presented to Him and the back cover image is the artist’s likeness of the scene in the film where Jesus passes the cup of wine to John at the Last Supper. Magdalena did a fantastic job of bringing these crucial moments of the film to life and her artwork heightens the look of the book no end,” says Martin Mc Cool.
The author admits that those who had issues with the film will likewise have issues with the book; and those who loved the film he hopes will also love the book. The two are being seen as inseparable: “In a sense, ‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ is a companion piece to the film: it would be ideal for anyone who would watch the film again this Easter or would like to delve more into what Easter is about.”
New insights are offered into the film, its images and symbolism. The writer shows how Mel Gibson masterfully mounted the story of Christ's crucifixion, surpassing all previous screen versions such as Franco Zeffirelli's 'Jesus of Nazareth': “People have this idea of the Via Dolorosa as being brutal and gruelling which - no doubt - it was. But some amazing things happened along the Way of the Cross and these are depicted in the film. I attempted to capture them in the book. It is here where The Passion of The Christ is at its most poignant and poetic, in the scenes where Jesus meets His mother, is ministered to by Veronica and where Simon of Cyrene joins in with Him in carrying the cross.”
Controversially, the book makes the claim that the hilltop flashback scene in which Jesus declares to a large crowd that He will lay His life down willingly is the greatest scene in cinema history. The author considers this scene, in which the sun radiates all around the silhouetted figure of Christ, to possess “cosmic power.” Elsewhere, the author makes the equally controversial argument that John Debney’s Middle-Eastern score for The Passion of The Christ is the greatest act of scoring in the history of film music.
The reasons for writing the book were manifold, as the author explains in the introduction. “The status of the film as a timeless religious epic that comes to the forefront anew every Easter was one,” says Martin Mc Cool. “Easter, especially Good Friday, was something that a lot of people never really got a grasp of until they seen this film. That’s why so many people described it as life-changing. Some of the media reporting and reviewing was so misleading that it deterred a significant number of people from even watching the film.”
“Some people think that the film has been forgotten about but no film in recent cinema history has seared itself in the imagination in quite the same way,” says Martin Mc Cool. “The Passion of The Christ comes to the forefront anew every Easter, and is now synonymous with Easter for so many people.” The author made contact with a friend of Mel Gibson’s who was in fact present on the set of The Passion of The Christ during filming and, based on that experience, wrote ‘Inside The Passion’ – the first major book on The Passion of The Christ. “When I informed him of my idea for a new book he thought I should go through with it and gave me encouragement,” says Martin Mc Cool.
The book actually has a local angle by virtue of the fact that John Michael Murphy, a mariner from Wexford, had the privilege of working with Jesus actor Jim Caviezel on The Count of Monte Cristo, partially shot at Duncannon Fort. So one advantage Martin Mc Cool had in writing the book was the benefit of an inside perspective on Jim Caviezel from his friend who rowed the boat with Caviezel in it seen in the film’s opening scene. As it is revealed in the book, John Michael Murphy formed a big impression of Jim Caviezel during The Count of Monte Cristo shoot and was not surprised when he heard that the actor was assigned the role as Jesus in The Passion of The Christ.
The film traverses the full spectrum of Christian iconography with imagery ranging from the teardrop issuing from the Father in heaven at the culmination of the crucifixion to the contrasting image of Satan defeated in the fiery desert of hell after Christ’s victory on the cross. ‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ confronts the realities of heaven and hell and the implications of Mel Gibson’s film for Christian views on the afterlife.
One of the most prominent features of this new book on The Passion of The Christ is the Simon of Cyrene story. According to the author: “The story of Simon of Cyrene’s encounter with Jesus and the bonding between the two men is one of the strongest episodes in the screenplay. Simon sets out reluctantly to help Jesus with the cross but winds up defending Jesus as the crowds and the Roman soldiers attack him. He has a journey of conversion as he carries the cross with Jesus; he looks into Christ’s eyes and realises that He is who He said He was – the Son of God and Saviour of the world. At the journey’s end, when he is dismissed by the Roman soldiers, Simon of Cyrene doesn’t want to leave. He is a changed man.”
The author added a couple of touches to the book in the interests of authenticity: “On the back cover, there is a quote in Aramaic taken straight from the film which is translated and a late idea I got was to have the chapter numbers in Roman numerals, as the story is set in Roman times.”
‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ is also a good book for those who wish to gain a deeper appreciation of Easter. The book liberally uses quotes from the scriptures to illustrate points made and this is also in keeping with the film’s approach to the story. An attempt is made to show how the film vividly brought the Stations of The Cross to life.
The centrepiece of the book is the chapter on the film's haunting flashback scenes which, the author argues, constitute the real source of the film's power. Here the author controversially argues that the hilltop flashback in which Christ declares to a large crowd that He will lay down His life willingly is not only the greatest scene in the film but, in his view, the greatest scene in cinema history.
The book also contains character studies of three key characters from the film whose lives were changed irrevocably by their encounter with Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The book brings The Passion of The Christ story right up-to-date, dealing with such topics as Pope John Paul II and The Passion of The Christ and Mel Gibson's drink-driving arrest last year.
There is a chapter on what the author terms “The literature of The Passion of The Christ” in which the author assesses the various books, positive and negative, that have been written about the film and attempts to detect misconceptions in the analysis of the film – it is felt that there were many - in the relevant texts. The chapter concludes with the hope that ‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ “will add something new to the story.”
The author concludes in the final chapter that the film has an afterlife enjoyed by no other film and explains why The Passion of The Christ is going to be a timeless movie by virtue of its direct association with Easter. Three years on, The Passion of The Christ continues to be treasured by churches and Christian communities from Italy to Brazil and will always have a special place in Good Friday commemorations.
Readers have admitted to being moved and inspired by Martin Mc Cool’s new book. Shane Dunphy, bestselling author of ‘Wednesday’s Child’ wrote: “I’ve read and indeed re-read Martin Mc Cool’s amazing book. It was very enlightening and gave me much pause for thought and reflection. I think he has written a truly beautiful devotional piece. Martin Mc Cool has done something few could manage – written an emotionally and spiritually honest book. ‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ is a work utterly devoid of cynicism in a darkly cynical age. It should be read by anyone with an interest in religion, in film or in postmodern culture.”
Natasha Chigrina said: “Thank you very much for your endurance in dealing with this hard topic of Christ so profoundly. I surely wish that in this way you profited personally a lot and that you can help others well along the difficult path of finding a deeper heart-to-heart connection with the real Jesus Christ who has overcome so much, especially in respect to loving one’s enemy which is rarely seen in today’s world.”
‘The power of The Passion of The Christ’ – a unique journey through Mel Gibson’s film and a good reflection for Easter week – is out now and available through Choice Publishing: 041-9841551 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org