I was able to catch a late showing of The Passion of the Christ last night with a couple of friends. The movie deals with just the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life leading up to his crucifixion with a couple of short flashbacks in between. The way I see it, you can view the movie with 3 different eyes; the movie eye, the history eye, and the religious/spiritual eye.
As a stand alone movie, The Passion falls flat. I know the story. We all do. It’s been done many times over and it just gets worn out. I mean I wasn’t expecting to see some car chase and explosions break out in the middle of it, but they could have made the film look prettier or shot it somewhat more interesting. The first sequence with Jesus being captured is pretty nice. It’s dark and the camera moves in interesting ways, but that’s when it all stops and everything becomes just more bland. Oh and it is a very violent film. It’s so violent that you become numb to it after about 10 minutes of the same old thing. “Oh look. They’re beating him again and again and again…” It gets old very fast.
Historically, it’s a very accurate portrayal of what is written in the Bible. It can be argued that a lot of the Bible isn’t fact, but that’s another discussion all together. If you’ve read it, then you know the film is pretty accurate. Seeing as though I went through 8 years of Catholic school, I have a pretty decent understanding of the story and they nailed a lot of details that other short films and movies have left out. Even though I knew what was coming up, it was fun to see if it was really going to be addressed or not and I was always surprised when it was.
Spiritual eye time. This one is a lot harder. You have to understand that Catholicism was beaten into my head up into high school and since then, I’ve been pretty non-active with it. Mel Gibson has repeatedly said that he wants people to understand what Jesus went through in his final hours. The message that kept screaming in my head was, “Look at what he did for you! You owe him big time.” The priests and teachers in school basically did the same thing. “Living you life according to Jesus is the least you can do if you don’t want to go to hell.” The preachers scare you into believing what they wanted you to believe and this “vision” of Mel Gibson’s tries to do exactly the same thing. Keep the people in fear and they’ll consume what you want them to. If you really wanted to show the passion of Christ, why not show a little more about who he was and what he did during his life instead of how he was murdered?
As for the film being risky and controversial, I don’t see it. The anti-Semitism everyone’s been talking about, nonexistent in my eyes. I mean how risky is it really to release a pro-Christ film in pro-Christian America?
In the end, all I see is a unpolished, poorly produced flick created by another preacher trying to push his message across using the some of the most extreme fear tactics possible and the one thing it had going for it, the shock value, becomes completely muddled by the overabundant violence. This is a bad film, but everyone should take the time and go see just because it is a piece of art that will provoke both positive and negative thought.
Anyone else seen it? Thoughts?