Sunday, March 14, 2004

Movie Review: The Passion of the Christ

United States, 2004
U.S. Release Date: 2/25/04 (wide)
Running Time: 2:07
Rated: R (Graphic violence)
Cast: James Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Hristo Jivkov, Hristo Naumov Shopov, Mattia Sbragia

Director: Mel Gibson
Producers: Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey, Stephen McEveety
Screenplay: Benedict Fitzgerald and Mel Gibson
Music: John Debney
Studio: Newmarket Film Group
In Aramaic and Latin with subtitles

Nearly a decade ago, Mel Gibson decided that he wanted to create a film about the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life—more commonly known as "The Passion." His goal was to depict an image of Jesus’ intense suffering that would surely leave a permanent impression in the minds and hearts of the viewers. What he did was create a picture that is entirely capable of both uplifting many and depressing and disgusting others. Surely, some will be displeased with Gibson’s efforts, due to its NC-17-esque persistent torture of Jesus the Nazarene and its elements of Anti-Semitism, which some claim to be present. Others will be emotionally touched.

To tell you the truth, the thought of Anti-Semitism being displayed in this film is absolutely absurd, because it simply is not present. The Jews sentencing Jesus to his death is a historical fact, which the picture depicts accurately and without prejudice. However, the Jews did not kill Jesus; Jesus was killed, in accordance with Christian belief, by each and every human-being—the same people he so willingly died for. It was humankind’s sins that led God to allow the Romans and the Jews to fulfill His pre-destined plan for His Son. Holding a prejudice against all Jews for killing Jesus is no different than holding a prejudice against all Germans for killing the Jews—both notions are preposterous, unethical, and go against the exact values that the Christian religion holds dear to heart.

As for the film’s graphic violence, every lash of the whip, every cry of pain, and every one of the thousands of criss-crossing rivulets of blood were undoubtedly warranted. While the violence may be a little overboard and repulsive for some (especially young children), if Gibson didn’t hit us hard with the message, it may have not hit home.

The Passion of the Christ is by no means an enjoyable or fun motion picture to sit through, but rather a graphic, yet inspirational, film that will stay with you for a lifetime. Gibson’s film may be too visceral for the faint of heart; however, keep in mind that no one is going to see this film for its violence or for its anti-fun-factor, but rather its moving message.

This monumental motion picture of the greatest story ever told is by far the best depiction of the final hours of Christ to ever grace the eyes of many, and even if Christ doesn’t suit you as your savior, this film is nothing short of amazing from its opening scene in the garden of Gethsemane, to the closing glorified resurrected image of Jesus in the tomb.

The Passion will continue to earn its title of the most controversial film to date, and at the same time, it will continue to result in mixed emotions. However, for me, the impact was grand and could not have been any more expressively gratifying.

To embark on experiencing this film, one must be in the right state of mind; there are many scenes that can become very affecting—causing both sniffling and sobbing. The Passion’s arresting effects both ensure that one will never look at a crucifix in the same way again and bring a whole new depth to the phrase, “He suffered, died, and was buried.” (**** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2004