The Plot – The Passion recounts the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life following the betrayal by Judas Iscariot. Suffering brutality at the hands of his jailors Jesus is ultimately crucified.
The Review – This is the one time I’ll write a review about a film without worrying about “spoilers”. Maybe it’s the times we live in, but it seems whether it’s a titty flash, trash talk radio or even a movie people want to be outraged about something. This movie was a curiosity for me because so many people had an opinion about it before it was released. Some Christians hailed it as THE story about Christ, others have called it pornography while casual observers have called it “…brutally realistic, it’s probably finally a film that does Jesus some justice.”
While I’m currently on my own journey of faith I have to admit my knowledge of the Bible and its contents is sorely lacking. As such I cannot refute the interpretation offered up by Mel Gibson in The Passion. I don’t believe the intent of the film is one of anti-semitism, but like the Star Wars series Gibson does little to downplay cultural stereotypes. It is also true that it portrays the Romans in a more sympathetic light than the Jewish people. Overall, I thought the film’s strength was also its weakness. You’ll be disgusted and outraged at the horrors Jesus endures, but the film will lock hold of you for 120 minutes.
The sheer brutality Jesus suffers through draws the audience’s attention and holds it like gawkers passing a highway tragedy. I don’t think the film is violent or gory for gore’s sake, but I think the message of The Passion is watered down because much is assumed about its viewers. The film establishes Jesus’s character, his message through a series a flashbacks. Maybe it is sufficient for the educated Christian, but to the casual observer there really is no explanation or understanding why the Jewish priests and people have such overwhelming hatred for Jesus. To the casual observer only a handful of people were followers of Jesus. The audience feels for Jesus because of his circumstance not because they are enlightened by his message.
Regardless of how you feel about the movie the key point is it is JUST A FILM. This is one man’s interpretation of the last moments of Christ’s life. Perhaps Mel Gibson created this film to invoke a certain reaction to shock people back into their faith. You may be offended by it, you may be affected by it, but if the film stirs you to look more deeply at your own faith then I think that is a good thing.