Saturday, June 10, 2006

on MSNBC.com - Entertainment Weekly's List of 25 Most Controversial films - #1: Gibson's "Passion of the Christ"

The link above should go to the MSNBC.com story on EW's new list of 25 most controversial films (MSNBC's is the only online story I've found yet, & lists only about half the flicks.-?- It was not on EW's current display yet-?!- I did find mention of the top 10 from this list on a Detroit News weblog page.) Anyway, I don't know anything about the selection processes used to make this list, yet, but it seems to me a pretty good set of choices. (The full list appears in the June 16, 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly.)


  • 1. Passion of the Christ (2004) dir. Mel Gibson
  • 2. A Clockwork Orange (1971) dir. Stanley Kubrick
  • 3. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) dir. Michael Moore
  • 4. Deep Throat (1972) dir. Gerard Damiano
  • 5. JFK (1991) dir. Oliver Stone
  • 6. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) dir. Martin Scorsese
  • 7. Birth of a Nation (1915) dir. D. W. Griffith
  • 8. Natural Born Killers (1994) dir. Oliver Stone
  • 9. Last Tango in Paris (1973) dir. Bernardo Bertolucci
  • 10. Baby Doll (1956) dir. Elia Kazan
  • 13. DaVinci Code (2006) dir. Ron Howard
  • 16. United 93 (2006) dir. Paul Greengrass

Also in top 25 , in unknown order(giving us 16 of 25 for now):

  • The Deer Hunter (1978) dir. Michael Cimino
  • Basic Instinct (1992) dir. Paul Verhoeven
  • Do the Right Thing (1989) dir. Spike Lee
  • Kids (1995) dir. Larry Clark

As I said, a pretty good list. In fact, the first two would have been my first choices, as well. I believe Bertolucci's (& Brando's) Last Tango in Paris, which was still quite a hot topic when I first saw it, in a commercial theater in 1977 in Jackson, Mississippi, must go up there near them; evidently, the same is true for Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo' (1975)--of which I have read & been told by friends, but have seen only scenes. I would immediately also think of Natural Born Killers, Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppolla), & The Deer Hunter. Also tough to watch were Sam Peckinpah's extreme Straw Dogs (1971) & David Cronenberg's crazy Crash (1996). I suppose Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979, Terry Jones), Birth of a Nation, Da Vinci Code, & Basic Instinct are controversial to somebody. But in 1932 Tod Browning's Freaks was fairly freaky, as it remains today. & any number of offerings by John Waters (especially early on, with Divine &co.) have been definitely freaky over many years.

Two final notes to Never Forget on this subject of controversial movies:

  • The truly original--& hugely originary--power of the great King Kong of 1932, by Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, more mysterious & amazing than ever, after 74 years!, superior to what any outright remake, by the definition of remake, could ever intend to be, or actually be. I mean, how would it be possible to conjure in today's film audiences the same frisson, the same stunned delight, that Kong's first fans must have experienced in their local movie houses, staring up at the screens in amazement at the noisy spectacle unreeling overhead, still unaccustomed as they were to talking pictures, & all blissfully unaware of the astonishing cinematographic developments that lay in store for audiences 70 years thence?
  • The unprecedented effect of terror on a segment of the population caused in 1938 by a radio broadcast: Orson Welles' Mercury Theater production of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The unforeseen panic was provoked by the broadcast's detailed verisimilitude, its seeming credibility as an urgent, realistic news program, clearly creating, as an entertainment event, a superior structure of suspense, & drawing greater controversy & audience response, than either filmed version.

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