Friday, April 10, 2009

A diverse selection

It dawned on me shortly after I left Hastings early Thursday evening that I had probably just done something no one in the history of man had ever done. As I drove home, I was convinced of it.

How many people have ever bought -- at the same time, mind you -- the DVDs "Murderball" and "Passion of the Christ"? I'd say it's just one. Me. Now that's one odd combination. But as Ricky Ricardo might say, let me 'splain.

Mark Zupan is one of the stars of the hit 2004 documentary film "Murderball." It focuses on the U.S. quadraplegic rugby team and their quest for a gold medal in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece and specifically its rivalry with Canada and former U.S. star Joe Soares, who is bitter against his old team and now coaches Canada.

Zupan, paralyzed by a car accident when his friend was drunk at the wheel, pushes himself and his sport as far as he can go in a sometimes-profane, intense, funny and focused way. His other teammates show the same personality in a provacative look at the handicapped and their determination to live a normal life. The critically acclaimed film was honored at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Zupan will be in Amarillo next week to speak at a function for Amarillo College. I'm scheduled to interview him Tuesday, so it's best to see the documentary to get a feel for what he and the movie are about. I'm looking forward to it. Zupan is an interesting guy on many levels.

"Passion of the Christ" is Mel Gibson's 2004 movie that depicts the arrest, trial, torture and ultimate crucifixtion of Jesus. I saw it five years ago when it was released. It was extremely moving and at the same time difficult to watch.

The movie grossed more than $370 million, which is 12th all-time in domestic earnings and the highest-grossing R-rated film ever in North America. The R rating comes from the graphic violence. It grossed $611 million worldwide despite being banned in some Muslim countries.

Easter, of course, is the most poignant time to see Passion. It's not a movie I'd want to see every Easter either. But after five years, I'm ready to see it again to appreciate what the Christian world considers the most significant event in human history.

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