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Three Passions

Passion, passion and more passion. Such was the story of Good Friday. Three of the more interesting and non-standard Passion performances that I experienced over Easter:

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004), which I watched on DVD, is actually a better movie than I had feared it would be. Intense, grim, bloody, but not gratuitously so in my opinion. The actor portraying Jesus seemed remarkably uncharismatic in the flashback scenes. I'm not in a position to discuss the theological merit of the film, although the English subtitles did seem faithful to the Gospels. Next time I watch it, however, I intend to switch the subtitles off and see how well I can follow the film having no understanding of Aramaic.

La Pasión según San Marcos - St Mark's Passion - by Osvaldo Golijov (2000) is an absolute joy to listen to. Available as a 2CD, I bought it in MP3 format from emusic (which, of course, has the downside of no liner notes or libretto). An utterly dazzling blend of musical styles, primarily, but not only, South American.

Good Friday evening saw the Manchester Passion - a re-enactment of the last hours of Christ through the streets of Manchester at dusk, told through the music of Manchester-based musicians, and televised live by the BBC. The Guardian reviewed the performance in their Saturday edition.

I listened online to BBC Radio Manchester (and recorded it - all right officer I'll come quietly). I was surprised how well some of the songs (for example, Love Will Tear Us Apart) were placed into context. It sounded fabulous to me and I do hope it turns up on the ABC some day. Being a live broadcast on local radio, however, did mean the occasional interruption for reports on that other great religion, Manchester United, from the Old Trafford Cathedral of St Matthew the Busby. That turned out to be another sombre occasion, United drew 0-0 with Sunderland. For Man U, that meant they could no longer catch Chelsea at the top of the Premiership. For Sunderland, it meant relegation.

It begs the question: would the Crucifixion have gone ahead on Friday if Jerusalem United had a home game against Corinthian Lions in the Imperial Premier League that evening?