***Official THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Michael Reuben, Feb 24, 2004.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "The Passion of the Christ". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning. If you need to discuss those types of issues, please use the Official Discussion Thread.

    Please exercise discretion in this thread. If everyone focuses on the film itself, we should be able to avoid the problems that resulted in the closure of previous threads. The moderation of this thread will be more active than usual to ensure that it remains on track.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

  2. Cassy_w

    Cassy_w Second Unit

    Jan 2, 2003
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    I'm a Christian, but I have not been to church in years. I'm not a fan of organized religion, the Catholic Church in particular. I read the bible as a child and a teen, but have not read it for some time.

    I want you to know this about me before I say: This is the most moving motion picture I have ever experienced. I saw it last night, by invitation, from a friend who manages a theater. Most of us were moved beyond words. Some were numbed. A few were left cold.

    My husband and I wept and walked out of the theater unable to speak. This film is not not not not anti-Semitic. This film isn't about blame. It's about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And because Gibson is such a talented filmmaker, he is able to draw you in and mesmerize you for 2+ hours, despite the graphic portrayel of violence and torture. Despite the two dead languages being used.

    My thanks to Gibson for making such an amazing motion picture.

    Last note: this morning I pulled the King James Bible from the book case and read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What I read is on screen. This is easily the most accurate filming of this story ever made. What is in the great book is on the screen.

    Saying anything more is pointless. Simply go and see the film for yourself and put the anger and hate filled accusations on both sides out of your mind. Don't let others set the agenda on how you will feel about this film. Just see and experience it for yourself.

  3. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 1999
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    Metro NYC
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    Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ is the most powerful film I have ever seen.

    From the first moments to the last, I was mesmerized by what I was watching. It was more than I ever could have imagined. It was a life changing, faith re-affirming cinematic masterpiece.

    Mel Gibson's direction was so assured, so complete in it's devotion to the story, that I felt as though I was there with Christ, 2000 years ago. And that's the point of the film I believe. To transport the viewer back to that time, and show them, unflinchingly, what Christ went through and endured for those of us that believe in him.

    Of course the film is violent, but necessarily so. And not near as bad as you have read, and never lingered upon, except for a few scenes in which it was truly necessary.

    As to the charges of being anti-semetic, they are ridiculous. Jews and Romans alike are shown as being both horrible and compassionate, just as we all can be.

    Jim Caviezel was amazing as Christ, his performance is a wonder to behold. Also excellent was Miss Morgensteren who portays Mary. Her soulful eyes tell you all you need to know about a Mother's love for her son and the suffering of watching her son tortured. Monica Bellucci was also very good.

    Technically, the film was without fault. The music by John Debney was stirring, the cinematography by Caleb Deschanel was like a painting come to life.

    I was raised a Catholic but never considered myself to be very religious. Watching this shattering, tremendously moving accurate depiction of Christ's final hours have strengthened my faith more than the I ever could have imagined.

    See for yourself.

  4. Brandon_T

    Brandon_T Screenwriter

    Oct 3, 2000
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    Just got back from viewing it, and really am not one to write reviews, but all I can say is that I was speechless. I too do not believe in organized religions anymore, but this movie moved me.

    I think that even non religious people can watch and appreciate this film for its story telling abilities. Thank you Mr. Gibson.

  5. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

    Jun 17, 2000
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    I just got back from viewing the film. I'm not much at reviews, and I really have no words to express my feelings. Simply stunning in every way.
    There are images from this film that I'll never forget. As far as the anti-semitism charge, I just didn't see anything that made my think badly about the Jewish people at all. The Romans were the villians of the piece, if there is a villian. The real villian is me. I'm responsible for the terrible sufferings that Christ had to endure.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Ray Chuang

    Ray Chuang Screenwriter

    Jan 26, 2002
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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    It is, without doubt, one of the most stunning movies I have ever experienced.

    If you understand what it was like to in Jeruselem under Roman rule in 32 AD and just how cruel and unusual cruxifixion as practiced by the ancient Romans were, the movie makes a huge amount of sense, to say the least. You can definitely feel the agony of Jesus Christ as he is severely beaten, forced to carry that heavy cross, and then be nailed to the cross--you have essentially become part of the crowd that witnessed the Passion itself.

    James Caviezel's performance as Jesus Christ is nothing short of brilliant--he conveyed Jesus' agony almost perfectly. This is a role worthy of at least an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. [​IMG] And Rosalina Celentano's performance as Satan is almost just as brilliant, also. [​IMG]

    One thing I just strongly commend is Caleb Deschanel's top-notch cinematography, especially the scene at the very beginning of the movie in the garden.

    By the way, the audience where I saw the movie was just as stunned as I was--NOBODY talked during the film. Religious or not, it is a movie that you will never forget for a long time to come once you've seen it.

    (A little commentary: tragically, I think no thanks to the frequently vicious PR campaign against the film, it could be situation like Citizen Kane all over again--a great film snubbed at Oscar time because of politics. [​IMG] )
  7. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

    Jul 4, 1997
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    Growing up Catholic, but now fairly atheist, I am fairly well aware of all of the story of Christ, and the meanings thereof as Gibson would acknowledge it.

    I witnessed the film at a 1PM showing, early here in KC at the AMC30.

    The film is a serious film that I did not feel was in any way anti-semitic, or frought with some of the perils those put to it. While yes, it is gory, it is no where near the "gore" as presented by say, "Kill Bill" or others which I enjoyed, and the "gore" factor was primarily aimed at the audience as a means of conveying teh catholic/christian belief that "our sins" conveyed the wounds to Jesus.

    James Caviezel turns in one of the most cinematically brilliant performances I have ever seen, using facial expressions and movements to convey so much. The use of mixed dialog, between those who are Roman and the streets, etc. lends to a good break into "who's who"

    The screening was absolutely quiet and many wept at it's conclusion.

    The film is not "the greatest thing I have ever seen" but it would qualify as one of the most ambitious screen effort I have ever been to, and a top-notch film. For those of faith, I can understand how moving and powerful this film could be.

    This is a must see for many during the Lenten season.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. Kristian

    Kristian Supporting Actor

    Jun 16, 2001
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    The Passion of the Christ is a masterpiece. And like several other modern masterpieces, it will have a fairly strong backlash. Yes, the film is shockingly brutal in its depiction of Jesus Christ's suffering. But if it weren't, wouldn't everyone be attacking the film for being just another tame take on the material? It is the contrast between the scenes of torture and the scenes of love and compassion that makes the film so powerful. Mel Gibson, Caleb Deschanel and Jim Caviezel deserve Oscars that they will sadly never get for this stunning achievement.

    Oh, for the record, I'm an atheist.

    And I give the film an A+.
  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    To this Christian viewer, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is somewhat of a disappointment. Being familiar with the text and the story, I asked myself, what new is Mel Gibson bringing to the story? According to Mr. Gibson, the film is about sacrifice, compassion, love and forgiveness.

    But his film, depicting the last hours of the life of Jesus Christ also focuses on the brutality and violence of those last hours. To me, that and the level of hate stood out and overshadowed the themes of tenderness that he is also trying to convey. The scenes of scourging just went on far too long that when Mary was walking around the halls where Jesus was savagely being beaten feeling numb and somewhat oblivious from the background sounds of whipping and Jesus’ agony, one knows that the level of brutality and torture had gone on far too long.

    This is Mel Gibson’s most personal film yet. The Passion is a very specialized film to a very defined target audience. I wouldn’t want to speculate how non-Christians would react to it. But the film is not what early detractors are calling it.

    The film just about excels in every technical aspect of filmmaking including strong performances by its leads, especially James Caviezel. But more importantly, I was looking for another level of experience – a spiritual one. At that level and to this viewer, the film falls short of delivering. It accentuates anger and savagery more than it actually advances Jesus’ teachings of love, forgiveness and compassion. This film is far more violent than anything I have ever seen when it comes to torture.

    The true passion of Jesus Christ can only exist in one’s heart and in one’s mind based on one’s faith and spiritual belief. Mel Gibson’s film tries to export us there. But the one and only true Passion is the ultimate act of sacrifice. Nothing, not even this film, can actually capture the gravity and intensity of that event.

  10. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    An amazing, sobering look at the final hours of Christ. Mel Gibson succeeds in bringing us with Christ as he faces those horrendous hours of pain and suffering. I found the audience and I to be in step with every single exasperating breath that Christ takes. It was hard to watch, and yet, it was something that hits at your spiritual core with the ferocity of those Roman soldiers delivering the scourging of Christ. This was a very moving film, on many levels.

    For me, it wasn't about the "intellectual/scholarly" aspect of the film's subject that was of interest to me. It was the unflinching flood of emotion and empathy that gripped me by the throat for almost 2 hours and gave up its hold slowly as Christ found release in his final moments on earth and whose spirit moves believers on a daily basis to live the good life, to be good to all, to embrace life everlasting.

    Jim Caviezel pulls off the performance of his life, relying on his body language to fully immerse himself into the role of Christ and all that he suffered and all that he gave freely to any and all who would listen to him at the ultimate cost to himself.

    It's been quite a while since I spent the last hour of any film with tears welling up in my eyes as I was immersed in these final hours of Christ, agonizingly each step of the way. In trying to stave off outright sobbing, my breathing had to become more labored and controlled, else I might have lost it.

    Words fail me as I exited from the theater. I was on auto-pilot driving home as scenes played through my head, my heart. Chills continued to go through my body several hours afterwards.

    I give it 4 stars, or a grade of A. But it seems silly to even "score" this film because it was more of a moving experience that left me with an indelible mark on the inside.
  11. George See

    George See Second Unit

    Jul 14, 2002
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    I consider myself to be a very cynical skeptic when it comes to religion. That being said this movie is absolutly amazing. I think believers and non believers alike will find something to take out of this movie with them. I can't even really put this into words, it was powerful and poetic and mesmerizingly brutal all at the same time. I didn't want to keep watching but I also didn't dare to look away. The costumes and sets all felt very real, the score was fantastic. This is definitely the greatest movie that I don't think I ever want to watch again.
  12. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Aug 5, 1999
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    Katy, TX
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    We caught a 4:30 matinee, and the theater was sold out - probably a first at this hour. I think our local Cineplex is going to end up wishing they had put The Passion of the Christ on more than two screens. [​IMG]

    Like Edwin my feelings on the film are mixed a little. I felt some things could have been done better. For one, the Satan character, portrayed as a flesh-and-blood persona, didn’t work for me at all. I like the way he was shown when he first appeared – in the background and obscured. Mr. Gibson should have gone with that. The part with him holding that grotesque-looking child – what was that about?

    Nevertheless, I understand that the things I didn’t care for were merely Mr. Gibson’s interpretation of cerrtain incidentals; it would be unreasonable to expect that everyone’s interpretation should be the same as mine. This is Mr. Gibson’s movie after all, and I do commend him for getting the “big picture” right.

    Amazing, the Houston Chronicle reviewer gave the picture an F. He felt right off the bat that the decision to use authentic language and subtitles was a big mistake. I’d have to agree – it certainly was a distraction to shift your attention from what was happening on the screen to read the subtitles. The Chronicle also thought the use of the flashbacks was poor form and distracted from the progression of the story. However, I found them a welcome relief from the overwhelming intensity of the cruelty and brutality Jesus was suffering.

    Small quibbles aside, The Passion excels from a technical standpoint. As it has already been pointed out, the cinematography and musical score are first class. Yes, the film is visceral and difficult to watch – I found myself thinking during the flogging scene, “Enough already. We get the point.”

    But any way you cut it, the crucifixion of Christ was not pretty. This is more than evident from reading the Biblical accounts. This may not be well known to many people, and it wasn’t brought out in the film, but a crucifixion is death by suffocation. When you are hanging from your outstretched arms, it is impossible to breathe unless you lift yourself above the level of your arms. It is a slow and agonizing death, as you become weaker and weaker and it becomes increasingly more difficult to raise yourself up. This is why a severely weak and beaten and Jesus died before the two thieves, and it’s why the soldiers broke the latter’s legs – to speed up their death.

    I’d have a hard time disagreeing with anyone who would say the brutality was over the top, but at the same time I imagine this is most likely the most realistic portrayal of the suffering of Jesus that has ever been put on the screen. It’s wholly inadequate to describe The Passion as “stunning.” More accurately, you will be stunned – as in speechless. My feelings during and afterwards were pretty much like Patrick’s

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
  13. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    Having seen the film, I could say this:
    - I found the style and approach to the primary elements to be compelling and very effective
    - I found most of the overt supernatural elements to be quite ineffective and dispelling the mood, with particular mention of the demon under the bridge and the tear drop rupturing the temple
    - Looking over the writings of Emmerich, I can see that she was the source of some depth to the story. Lacking the contributions attributed to her, it would have been a much shallower and less successful movie. In particular, Pilate's commentary and treatment was in retrospect the only real bit of story in the film.
    - I would just about call this one of the most repulsive things I've ever seen. This ranks closely to the worst in German and Italian splatter films. I think if it were any other subject, it would be condemned as gornography of the worst kind. I can say with certainty that the only movies that come close to the scouring scenes were unrated. Any other film would be NC-17 at best and unrated in most cases.
    - It was shot even more effectively than Braveheart, with some truly remarkable scene setups and shot composition. The design and casting also were extremely effective all around.
    - There is enough in the flashbacks and trial to establish what is going on. Any concern that it requires a strong understanding of the source material is not really warranted. I have little doubt that those familiar will understand much more than those that don't, however.
    - Satan was an extremely effective addition, adding some of the most subtle and effective work in the film as a whole.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (out of four), with my only real complaint that the supernatural elements could have been handled better. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who isn't really faithful, as it's unflinchingly brutal and some shots could even be said to revel in the gory details.
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    The following is a I reminder for those that are posting their reviews in this thread. Any posts that deviate into discussion of other members reviews will be deleted without warning.

  15. James T

    James T Screenwriter

    Aug 8, 1999
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    I saw it last night. Pretty good movie. It was also the first movie(and I've attended lots of movies on opening night) that the crowd gave a standing ovation.
  16. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
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    Monroe, LA
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    Tim Glover

    Agree Patrick.

    Saw this film yesterday evening. Powerful, brutal, intense, amazing are the words that come to mind.

    The film is brutal. I expected it to be and yet still found it to be numbing.

    Masterfully filmed by Gibson. Extremely well acted and very effective musical score.

    A truly unforgettable experience.
  17. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    So much for waiting. I love movies. That's why I am here, and about 85% of my posts are in the Movies thread. I don't see nearly as many as some members, and I don't see nearly as many as I want to. But sometimes, when I REALLY want to see a film, it becomes somewhat consuming. On the way to work today, I knew I'd have to take a long lunch and see The Passion of the Christ. I had been waiting for the movie a long time, and the old teaser trailer got me extremely interested. The subsequent build-up only fueled the interest.

    I'll save the discussion topics for the Discussion thread (amount of violence, the charges against the film, Mel, each other, etc) and try and focus on the film.

    ER points out above on the of the key elements. Much like Black Hawk Down and the battles portions of SPR, The Passion is an experiential film. It's not telling a story in the traditional way, but rather showing a historical event as realistically as possible, and putting the audience in the situation. There aren't a lot of these films, and I loved the purest example of it so far (BHD). They are a challenge to direct, removing many of the storytelling crutches used by filmmakers.

    As with any film, but far moreso than most, reaction to The Passion is based very strongly on the audience members themselves. Hence the concept that a film can mean many different things to many different people.

    I am still trying to get a handle on how I feel about the film. It is wonderfully shot, and skillfully directed. The performances are fairly primal, without much dialogue to allow actors to convey the tale. I doubt there will be any disagreement on HTF, but the decision to use the proper languages was the only correct decision. I am glad Mel subtitled, but the film would have worked without them.

    The film itself was emotionally draining, so much so that I felt numb by the time Jesus' cross was raised. The scourging was brutally powerful, and one of the hardest scenes for me in a hard film. As a new parent, the most painful scenes for me were the ones involving Mary. The depth of Jesus' sacrifice can truly be seen on his mother, as I can imagine the only thing more painful than the Passion was watching it occur to your child. I appreciated the flashbacks, and they were very well-placed. I would have liked to see more of the teachings, but the film is The Passion of the Christ. I'll do further research on my own. The film covered what it was intended to cover. The filmmaking aspects were top-notch. The only real elements that took me out of the film were SOME (not all) of the supernatural ones, especially the last pullback from Satan. There were a few "Hollywood" elements that I didn't care for, but there were few and far between and only momentary distractions.

    It's a paltry review for a film I am still digesting (and will be digesting for some time), but it was a very, very powerful experience. One I might wait a little while to experience again. I am not going to give the film a score.

    It's a brilliant film from a gifted filmmaker. And a hard film to watch.

    Take care,
  18. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

    Feb 11, 1999
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    This, of course, is my opinion and review. I put the last paragraph in spoilers because it describes my take on the ending.

    Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is violent and bloody and not the kind of story of Christ we grew up with from "Jesus of Nazareth", "The King of Kings", and "The Greatest Story Ever Told". Instead of focusing on Jesus' entire life as proclaimed in the Gospels, it concentrates on His last hours from the Garden of Gethsemane(where he was betrayed by Judas) to his crucifixion, and briefly, His ressurrection.

    To break the onslaught of His beating and torture, Mel Gibson effectively includes flashbacks of moments in His life as remebered by those around Him. For example, His mother, Mary, remembers Him falling as a child and how she ran to His aid as she is seeing Him fall from carrying the cross on the way to Golgotha. A similiarly effective moment is when Mary Magdalene remembers Him saving her from those about to stone her to death as she is watching Him being beaten by Roman soldiers. Also included are scenes of the Semon on the Mount and The Last Supper. Satan is characterized in a few scenes and his reaction to Christ's death is chilling.

    All dialogue is in Aramaic and Latin with English subtitles(and some Hebrew, I'm told), but because of the fine acting of the relatively unknown ensemble, it is not a distraction. For those not familiar with the Gospels, the subtext of some of the imagery might be lost because Gibson does not spend much screen time setting up the story and the character's motivations. He assumes the viewer is already familiar with those details of the events and people surrounding Christ's life and death.

    As mentioned, the movie is bloody and violent similiar to "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List." Like those movies, the violence is present to serve the realism of the story and is not gratuitous in the way that some Action or Horror movies are(like "Kill Bill Volume 1" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"). It is appropraite, in my opinion, considering the material.

    Some reviewers have criticized Gibson for focusing on the the violent death of Christ instead of His message of Love and Redemption. Again, in my opinion, his approach is brilliant because the realistic portrayal of His death serves as a reminder of the great sacrifice Christ made for us and only strengthens his message of Love--that is, His Love for us.

    This movie is a modern masterpiece with excellent cinematography, direction, music, and acting. It is so gut-wrenching and beautiful at the same time. It evoked a response within me that no movie ever has. I cried uncontrollably and even continue to well-up occasionally as I try to digest everything Gibson put forth in this truly unique story of Christ's last hours.

    Of course, no film about Christ is complete without the Resurrection, and again, Gibson underplays it, not to minimize its importance, but to underscore the central message of His sacrifice. Gibson has a singular vision with this film and he never strays from it. Some might disagree with his artistic choice, but I think it is effective with his stated vision of the film's message.

    We have just witnessed for almost two hours, the terrible beating, torture, and death of this Man(granted many of us believe he is also the embodiment of God on Earth)and Gibson does not resort to the typical "Spielbergian" ending. Instead, he subtlely shows us the Power of Christ, through the wonderful acting of Jim Caviezal, as he opens his eyes in the tomb, unblemished with only His wounds as a reminder. We are forced to focus on the terrible but unconditional sacrifice as we leave the theater, which only underscores the Glory of His message.

    It is very powerful and something I'm not likely to forget the next time I read the matter of fact narrative recounted in the Gospels.


    **By Spielbergian, I mean Steven Spielberg's propensity to hit us over the head with a happy ending. The only exception to that might be his adaptation of Stanley Kubrick's project "A.I." and even then the point is arguable
  19. Stevan Lay

    Stevan Lay Second Unit

    Jan 5, 2000
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    An amazing film through and through. Outstanding production values and custome designs, the cinematography a sight to behold, the score was extremely stirring, and the leading performances were remarkable, in particular Jim Caviezel in an Oscar worthy portrayal as Jesus Christ.

    For me this film served its purpose. It was an educational experience like no other. IMO, the The Passion of the Christ is an important film. The label of 'Masterpiece' may be contentious but it has thus far already made an imprint in cinematic history, IMO. And it's not due to the religious content but rather for the film-making achievements from Mel Gibson. And I truly admired Gibson's integrity in not trying to answer to his critics by undermining his intended message with a spiritual dimension that most have been asking for. That would be more suited as a separate movie.

    While I would not place this movie in the 'highly recommended' section, it is however still a 'must see' film. A word of advice though, one must be strong in order to withstand the powerful onscreen images. It's the kinda movie that totally numbs your senses. I needed to lie-down for a while in order to stabilise my emotions and thoughts.
  20. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator

    Jul 31, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Cees Alons
    Ernest Rister,

    I'm extremely sorry to say, that I had to remove another non-review post of yours from this thread. Please consider this also as the very last warning you're given.

    Thanks for understanding.

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