Italian moviemaker Franco Zeffirelli is to help revamp the reputation of POPE BENEDICT XVI - having accepted the offer of becoming his 'personal image consultant'. The Jesus of Nazareth director is aiming to show the German pope in a new light to combat his "unhappy image", complete with a new wardrobe, which he insists "should be reviewed". Zeffirelli adds, "Coming after a pope as telegenic as John Paul II is a difficult task... (Pope Benedict) comes across coldly, which isn't suited to his surroundings. "(His robes are) too sumptuous and flashy. (They should reflect) the simplicity and sobriety seen in the other echelons of the Church." Zeffirelli, 84, is also set to consult the Vatican over the Church's representation in film and he pinpoints 2004's The Passion of the Christ as one example which proved detrimental to the reputation of the Catholic Church. He says, "The Holy father is very aware that the Church's cinematographic communication is in ruins today. ... As a Christian I cannot stand by while this disaster unfolds. I should have the full authority - and the Holy Father would not deny me - to denounce the continual blasphemies committed with the intention of popularising the Christian message. "You have to pay attention, as shown by the fallout from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ which irreversibly harmed the memory of millions of people. Images have invaded ... values that used to belong to preaching and the written word." Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. Zeffirelli will take on his full responsibilities in January (08).
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