Tonight Dickson and I went to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Now having read many, many reviews about the movie, I knew to expect a couple things:
- James Caviezel is nearly unrecognizable as he resembles a piece of bloody meat throughout most the movie.
- To say that the movie is not educational would be the understatement of the year.
- The amount of violence showcased was up there with some of the most violent of our time.
- There was lots of blood, almost all of it from Jesus.
- The movie does give the impression that it was the Jews who killed Jesus.
Yes all of these things I had expected, and all of them are in fact true. The violent beating that Jesus endures was quite disturbing. There was lots of blood, not as much as Gangs of New York, but considering it is from mainly one man in this movie, the amount is quite astonishing.
Gibson is very clearly preaching to the converted with this movie. If you don’t know anything about the story of Jesus, don’t expect to learn anything by watching this movie. To the non-believers, this movie will be nothing more than a two hour butcher special – save your $14 and watch the Food Channel. Or better yet, watch a different gory movie that doesn’t require you to have any knowledge of the events before purchasing your ticket.
I don’t want to dwell on this, but yes the movie probably gave the impression that it was the Jews who killed Jesus. The Romans in charge seemed reluctant to do anymore than give him a good beating. It was the Jewish high priests who called for his crucifixion, and were not satisfied until it was done. During the scenes which portray this, it is interesting to note that Claudia holds quite a bit of sway over Pontius Pilate. Maybe this is insignificant, but I thought it was interesting that a woman had such influence at the time.
Now there are three interesting things I noted in this movie. The first relates directly to the above. Why does everyone hold Jesus in such high regard now? Simply because he was a prophet capable of performing “miracles”? Many men were the same way at the time, and countless “criminals” were crucified for the same thing Jesus was. If this movie is historically accurate (and many people have said it is quite accurate, Gibson claims it was his intent) then why don’t people now consider what the people then thought? It is quite clear that the vast majority of the people present at the time wanted him dead – why should anyone else question this? Were you there? I don’t think so!
The second thing that was interesting to me was all the young children in attendance at the movie. I mean, I had heard about it on the news, parents who kept their kids home from school to go see the movie on opening day – but to see it in person is something else. Dickson and I sat beside two young kids whose parents were elsewhere in the theater (seating was very limited, it was packed). Beside them was a family, with two even younger kids. You could see the poor kids cover their eyes for the beating and crucifixion (and to be clear, those two events make up 80% of the screen time). I think watching something like that could seriously mess a kid up. No matter how much the parents try to talk to their kids, the fact remains, a picture is worth a thousand words. The images and visuals presented will resonate with those children, the words their parents speak are much more easily forgotten.
The sad thing is that these parents are probably the same ones who complain that video games and movies and TV shows are too violent these days. How does a movie being religious make it okay for the children to see? I would be seriously concerned if my child saw this movie, especially at such a young age when they are still trying to figure out the things they see. I don’t think any child so young can truly understand the message that Gibson attempts to portray with his horrifyingly violent visuals. Heck I doubt most of the adults can.
The third thing I found interesting was the actual movie itself. The music, the camera angles, the effects, all very well done in my opinion. I think Gibson had a very clear image of the movie he wanted to make, and he did an amazing job as far as the actual cinematography goes. The choice of camera positions and lighting were especially well done in my opinion. While I doubt this movie will win any awards because of the subject matter it explores, I think it should be nominated for direction or a visual award.
The only part of the movie I had trouble watching were the scenes where they nailed him to the cross (I get squeamish about needles and things piercing my skin). I tried to watch as much of it as I could as there was dialog at the same time (the movie has English subtitles). Otherwise, it was quite interesting to see how legal matters were handled at the time, and that people were generally more violent. Other things to note were Gibson’s portrayal of Satan (freaky but intriguing at the same time) and his rather lame resurrection scene (about 30 seconds total).
So do I recommend you see this movie? Probably not. Unless you share the same beliefs as Gibson, you probably will not enjoy it. If you have young children, I strongly urge you not to let them watch this. If you do want to see it, don’t eat anything while you watch it, that would be my advice – especially not a juicy steak. I think Gibson succeeded in making the movie he wanted to make, and with some clever marketing, many people have now seen what he believes. Religion has once again been brought to the forefront of society with the Passion making headlines in every major news publication in the world. Only time will tell its effect.