[Marxism] When the shoe was on the other foot

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jan 11 15:48:32 MST 2015

NY Times, October 25, 1988
Police Suspect Arson In Fire at Paris Theater

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE, Special to the New York Times

PARIS, Oct. 24— Government officials, religious leaders and film 
directors condemned today an apparent arson attack against a Paris 
theater that was showing Martin Scorsese's film ''The Last Temptation of 
Christ.'' The fire Saturday night left 13 people hospitalized, 1 of them 
in serious condition.

The fire, if it proves to be arson, would be the most serious incident 
in a series of attacks against the film in Paris, Lyons, Nice, Grenoble 
and several other French cities. The incidents have included the 
clubbing of moviegoers and the throwing of teargas and stink bombs in 

The film, which seeks to show the human side of Jesus and which includes 
a scene in which he imagines having sex with Mary Magdalene, created a 
storm of controversy throughout France well before the movie opened in 
17 theaters in Paris on Sept. 28. The Theater Is Gutted

After the attack left the theater, the Cinema St.-Michel in the Latin 
Quarter, gutted, there was just one movie theater in Paris still showing 
the film. That theater, the Gaumont Champs-Elysees, was under heavy 
police protection. ''Last Temptation'' had opened in 50 theaters outside 
Paris, but is now playing in fewer than 20.

''The opponents of the film have largely won,'' said a representative of 
Universal International Pictures, which is distributing the film in 
France. ''They have massacred the film's success, and they have scared 
the public.'' He said that he had expected the film to attract 500,000 
viewers and to run for two or three months, but that it would probably 
attract only about 170,000 viewers and run just one month.

Jack Lang, France's Minister of Culture, went to the St.-Michel theater 
after the fire, and said, ''Freedom of speech is threatened, and we must 
not be intimidated by such acts.''

Several ultra-conservative religious groups had repeatedly promised to 
prevent the film from being shown. In August, the leader of one Roman 
Catholic group, Christian Solidarity, said, ''We will not hesitate to go 
to prison if it is necessary,'' to stop what he called a ''blasphemous'' 
film. Cardinal's Condemnation

Before the film opened, the Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Cardinal 
Lustiger, condemned it without having seen it. He said, ''One doesn't 
have the the right to shock the sensibilities of millions of people for 
whom Jesus is more important than their father or mother.''

After the fire, Cardinal Lustiger condemned those responsible for what 
the police suspect was arson. ''You don't behave as Christians but as 
enemies of Christ,'' the prelate said. ''From the Christian point of 
view, one doesn't defend Christ with arms. Christ himself forbade it.''

There have also been attacks against a new Claude Chabrol film, ''Une 
Affaire de Femmes,'' which is about a Frenchwoman who was executed for 
performing abortions. A viewer died of a heart attack after seeking to 
flee one theater after a teargas bomb was set off.

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