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After all the controversy and rigorous debate has subsided, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ will remain a force to be reckoned with. In the final analysis, "Gibson's Folly" is an act of personal bravery and commitment on the part of its director, who self-financed this $25-30 million production to preserve his artistic goal of creating the Passion of Christ ("Passion" in this context meaning "suffering") as a quite literal, in-your-face interpretation of the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus, scripted almost directly from the gospels (and spoken in Aramaic and Latin with a relative minimum of subtitles) and presented as a relentless, 126-minute ordeal of torture and crucifixion. For Christians and non-Christians alike, this film does not "entertain," and it's not a film that one can "like" or "dislike" in any conventional sense. (It is also emphatically not a film for children or the weak of heart.) Rather, The Passion is a cinematic experience that serves an almost singular purpose: to show the scourging and death of Jesus Christ in such horrifically graphic detail (with Gibson's own hand pounding the nails in the cross) that even non-believers may feel a twinge of sorrow and culpability in witnessing the final moments of the Son of God, played by Jim Caviezel in a performance that's not so much acting as a willful act of submission, so intense that some will weep not only for Christ, but for Caviezel's unparalleled test of endurance.
Leave it to the intelligentsia to debate the film's alleged anti-Semitic slant; if one judges what is on the screen (so gloriously served by John Debney's score and Caleb Deschanel's cinematography), there is fuel for debate but no obvious malice aforethought; the Jews under Caiaphas are just as guilty as the barbaric Romans who carry out the execution, especially after Gibson excised (from the subtitles, if not the soundtrack) the film's most controversial line of dialogue. If one accepts that Gibson's intentions are sincere, The Passion can be accepted for what it is: a grueling, straightforward (some might say unimaginative) and extremely violent depiction of the Passion, guaranteed to render devout Christians speechless while it intensifies their faith. Non-believers are likely to take a more dispassionate view, and some may resort to ridicule. But one thing remains undebatable: with The Passion of the Christ, Gibson put his money where his mouth is. You can praise or damn him all you want, but you've got to admire his chutzpah. --Jeff Shannon
| CATEGORY: || Video |
| DIRECTOR: || Mel Gibson |
| THEATRICAL RELEASE DATE: || 25 February, 2004 |
| MANUFACTURER: || 20th Century Fox |
| MPAA RATING: || Unrated |
| FEATURES: || Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, NTSC |
| TYPE: || Drama, Feature Film Drama, Feature Film-drama, Inspirational, Movie |
| MEDIA: || VHS Tape |
| # OF MEDIA: || 1 |
| UPC: || 024543131656 |
Customer Review of The Passion of the Christ
Torture of the Christ and the Audience
This is one of the most bloody, graphic films I have ever seen. The torture goes on and on and on. It's really over the top. They should rename it "Torture of the Christ". I couldn't see the point of the film. Yes, Christ suffered a terrible price for our sins. Crucifixion alone is a very horrible, painful death, but why keep showing scene after scene of beating and whipping and torn and bloody flesh? Just too much. What's the point? The horrible suffering could have been made apparent without so much gore and so much time devoted to it. I am dumbfounded that people found this movie powerful and moving and that it got such high praise. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Not much entertainment value and no real religious value that I can see. Just a torture movie dressed up with religious themes. Sorry, it didn't do a thing for me. The only redeeming thing about this movie was that the period costumes were very impressive. The question is, were they accurate? The story seems to be mostly accurate, following the biblical account, as near as I could tell. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone. There are many much better inspirational movies. Don't let kids see this movie; it will be very disturbing to them. Don't bother to see it yourself either. If you are a Christian, there are much better ways to spend your time. If you aren't, this movie probably won't change your mind.
Good news . . . and bad news
This is a profoundly disturbing film. It is beautifully set and filmed, and very well acted. The Aramaic dialogue lent authenticity and beauty to the scenes. I, personally, did not find the film to convey a message of anti-Semitism.
>So, why only two stars? Partly because I'm a stickler for a well-written script, and this film not only didn't have one, it hardly required one. But mostly because, though I am not a believer, I have respect for the story, and a desire to see it told well. Gibson's peculiar obsession with violence overwhelms it. Pelikan's Jesus Through the Centuries points out that, while we think of Jesus as being a challenge to dominant cultures, the portrayals of him are often a reflection and an endorsement of the dominant culture. So, in our extravagantly, pornographically violent times, Gibson produces a movie that extracts the most violent 24 hours of Jesus' life and makes it stand in place of the whole story. In an age of religiously-inspired violence, it is a tragic decision for a director to make.
>Gibson presumes that everyone knows Jesus and is sympathetic toward him. While that may be mostly true, it also lets Gibson off easy, absolving him of the director's difficult role in a tragedy: make the audience care for the characters, tell the audience why these characters are worthy. Instead, he involves us in an orgy of gore, reveling in the blood spilled, and raising the awkward question: If this is the whole purpose of Jesus' life, then what are we to think of the "villains", Judas and Pilate, et al, who brought about that which must be done?
>But Gibson as storyteller/evangelist is not interested in conundrums. I think he wants to make us feel good about feeling so bad. And he fails, at least in my case. I want to be ennobled by this story, as by stories of other selfless teachers who fell to the authorities of their times. I was appalled by the parents who had taken their children to see it. It is, hands down, one of the most graphically violent movies you will ever see, and parents should exercise the same caution with this film as they would with any other portrayal of a death by torture.
>I knew that it was violent, and graphic, when I went to see it. What I hoped for was that Gibson would try to convey a sense of solidarity between Jesus and others who have been murdered, tortured, or persecuted. That sense was entirely missing. If he had run the quotation - "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto me" - toward the end, all of the violence might have been somewhat redeemed by urging us to treat others with the same pathos Gibson wants to evoke in us for Christ. Instead, he gives the resurrection a bare moment at the end, accompanied by military marching music, as if Jesus came back to kick some serious [...] in retribution. I found the film, and its violence, utterly lacking in redemptive value. There is no grace here. I am not surprised that Gibson followed it up with yet another portrayal of human sacrifice, since that is what he reduced this grand story to: a mere barbaric bloodletting.
He paid our debts........ A must see
This movie is a powerful revelation of Christs last moments on earth. A must see for any believer in his word. I actually recommend it to those who are not believers. It is something we all should know about to understand what he did for us all.
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