February 26, 2004

Review: The Passion of The Christ

"The Passion of The Christ", a film by Mel Gibson, tells the story of the last 12 hours of Jesus's life. It tells the story of his trial, his torture, and his crucifixion.

There was much controversy that came out before this film was released. Many called it anti-semetic, others say it's too violent. And the controversy has lead to great hype for a movie about Jesus. Left leaning Hollywood didn't want to touch it, and attacked it. But in the end Mel will have the last laugh.

First off, I believe that this movie will only cater to religious types, or those who are very familiar with Christian doctorine. The film, except for brief flashbacks, does not deal with the teachings of Jesus. The film almost entirely details his suffering, without much backstory as to who the man is, what his teaching were, or why he had to die in such a horrific manner.

The film begins with Jesus, played by Jim Caviezel, praying to his father in the garden, asking to be released from his obligation. He is frightened, and does not want to die in the way he knows he will be killed. The devil comes along and temps Jesus, only reinforcing Jesus's will to follow his destiny.

The two main characters involved in Jesus's death are Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, and Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest. Pilate is especially reluctant to crucify Jesus, but knows with the Jewish uprising demanding this "heretic's" death, he must Crucify him to avoid an all out rebellion.

The rest is history. Jesus is condemmed to torture and death. The final 90 minutes or so show in over-the-top detail the sadistic torture of Jesus.

I believe that the violence in this movie is so over the top, that it is detracting from the story of Jesus's love for humankind. Instead of relying on character development and story to understand and feel for the characters, we are just moved to sympathy for a man's torture. And beyond that you get numbed by the violence, sort of the way you would feel after being involved in a car wreck. You realize what has happened, but shock and awe are keeping it from truly sinking in.

That being said, the story is highy moving to people. Despite all that is done to Jesus, he still prays to his father to forgive his torturers. Even as lashes rip into his skin, he begs for the Heavenly Father to forgive them.

The charges of anti-semetism in this movie are 100% unfounded. If you go into this move an anti-semite, you'll still leave an anti-semite. If you aren't one, this movie will not convert you to hatred. Hate is not a feeling you feel when you leave the movie. Many, when they leave the theater, are in tears. Many others walk away in stunned silence.

Mel Gibson has set out to make a film, attempting to be true to the gospels. He has directed a film with stunning visuals, beautiful set design, frighteningly true-to-life scenes of torture. To those who are deep believers this movie will show a messiah who gave so much for us, because of love, so our sins may be forgiven. To those with only minimal faith, they will come to realize that they underestimated how much upheavel and sacrifice was given up for us, and will strengthen their faith.

3 Stars, out of 4

Posted by psugrad98 at February 26, 2004 08:38 AM

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