The story of Jesus has never been told any better

On the second day of the Lenten season, crowds continued to flock to area theaters yesterday to witness "The Passion," the long-awaited Mel Gibson movie that opened Wednesday and has the film industry gleaming with faith.

Some left with tears and others exited in silence. But few moviegoers had anything but praise for the production, applauding its Biblically-correct storyline, moving drama and powerful depiction of Jesus' last 12 hours, climaxed by the Crucifixion just outside the city walls of Jerusalem

In Maryland, 13-year-old Michael McKoy said the movie about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life has caused him to reconsider his daily behavior.

"There are some days when I wake up in the morning, when I feel like I do not have the time to pray, to read the Word of God," McKoy said. "While I have read the Gospel accounts of the passion, seeing it portrayed on the big screen, seeing the length that Jesus was willing to go to die for me, makes it impossible for me to wake up in the morning and feel like I don't have time to read the Word and to pray."

Debbie Steinbarger of Dayton found it difficult to summon words when asked about the motion picture.

"I'm just speechless," said Steinbarger in tears. "I love the Lord and it was extremely hard to watch. I'm a Christian and I've read the scriptures and I feel like Gibson was really right on and portrayed what actually happened."

Eiffert, who watched an afternoon showing with her husband and friends, called it wonderful and astounding cinema that was a true portrayal from the pages of the Bible. Gibson based his depiction of Jesus on the diaries of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich, St. Mary of Agreda and the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Much has been made of the movie's violence, with some critics calling it excessive. But Colonial Heights resident Alex Brumbaugh, 32, said the raw and powerful nature of the story touched his spirit beyond words.

If the brutal reality of the Crucifixion is ugly, well so is sin, he said.