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The 'Definitive' Passion

Mel Gibson's controversial blockbuster comes to DVD again—this time in a two-disc "definitive edition" including hours of commentaries, bonus features, and more.

A lot has happened since The Passion of The Christ came out three years ago and broke a series of records, becoming the top-grossing R-rated movie, the top-grossing foreign-language film, and the top-grossing religious movie of all time—at least in North America. (The Matrix Reloaded is still the top R-rated film worldwide.)

Major movie studios have tried to replicate its success—by setting up faith-oriented divisions like FoxFaith, or by producing entire biblical movies of their own, such as The Nativity Story—and the careers of several of the film's key players continue to reflect the film's influence. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus, will do so again in an audio Bible for Thomas Nelson. Hristo Shopov, who played Pontius Pilate, reprised the role last year in a remake of the Italian film The Inquiry. Benedict Fitzgerald, who co-wrote the script, recently wrote a prequel of sorts called Myriam, Mother of the Christ, and sold distribution rights to the as-yet-unproduced film to MGM.

And then there is director Mel Gibson, who bucked a wave of controversy over the film's raw violence and alleged anti-Semitism, only to be caught making racist remarks shortly before finishing the similarly gory Apocalypto last year.

It will probably be a few more years before we have enough perspective to properly assess the film and its impact on our culture, but now is as good a time as any to revisit the film, and the two-disc "definitive edition" that comes out today is an illuminating place to start. It includes both the original film and the slightly shorter, slightly less violent version known as The Passion Recut; and it includes multiple audio and text commentaries, as well as hours of documentary features.

The bonus features ...

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