April 10, 2004

My Review of The Passion

Karol and I finally went to see Mel Gibon’s “The Passion” today. The following are my thoughts on this film in no particular order.

I have read extensively on the film and I think I was mentally prepared for the brutality of it. Although after the scourging, Jesus was lacerated and dripping with blood from head to toe, I don’t think the film portrayed the effects of the scourging accurately. When you look at the tools the Romans were using to beat him, the marks on his body UNDERSTATED the effects. From other things I have read, I would say the film UNDERSTATES just how mutilated his body was.

The acting was excellent all around. All the characters seemed believable. Part of the problem of reading so much about the film before going is I was mentally taking the film apart in my mind instead of completely experiencing it. I was also comparing my recollection of scripture with what Gibson was putting on the screen.

I thought the character of Satan was a nice touch. You can’t tell if he’s male or female. In addition, he looks so clean, almost innocent.

I didn’t understand why the two Mary’s were mopping up Jesus’ blood after the whipping. I think it has something to do with Jewish tradition, but I’m not certain.

I was looked for anti-Semitism, but I didn’t see any. Caiphas does not come across to me as pure evil. He more reminds me of some fire-and-brimstone Christians I have seen. It’s his way or the highway and God is on his side. He stands in self-righteous indignation and pushes Pilot to condemn Christ to death. I guess you could say what Caiphas did was truly evil.

The Roman soldiers come off the worst. They were beyond evil. They seemed like demented barbarians. They enjoyed Christ’s suffering. The more pain they could inflict, the better they liked it. They made the Nazi’s seem like pussycats.

Gibson did not make this movie to convert the agnostic or atheist and I don’t think it will. There is not attempt to prove the existence of God, man’s fallen nature, and his destiny to a very warm place. You really need to know the story in the first place to accurately follow the movie.

I thought the actor that played Jesus was a smidgeon on the plump side for Jesus. Jesus walked everywhere he went. He probably ate sparingly. I would expect him to be quite slender.

I have read that the Arabs have gotten wind that this movie shows Jews in a bad light and they are getting permission from the Arab governments to show the film. This could be one of the most serendipitous things to come out of this movie. Any Moslem that views this movie, if he looks hard enough, will find something for which to condemn the Jews. Just like the Bush haters blame Bush for bad weather. A warped mind will see what it wants to see.

However, they will also be confronted with several things the movie depicts.

1) There are no Palestinians in the movie. Why? Because there weren’t any back then. All you see in this movie are Jews and Romans. This movie gives the Jews claim to Israel substance. But the Arabs won’t see that.

2) Christ was crucified. Although the Koran accepts Jesus virgin birth, they deny he was crucified and they certainly deny his resurrection. This movie depicts in graphic detail his crucifixion. It also, briefly, shows his resurrection.

3) Jesus’ teachings. His message of forgiveness and love are powerful messages.

I hope that every Moslem sees this movie. It won’t make them hate the Jews any more than they already do. I think on a scale of 1 to 10, they're already at a 10.

But it will give them a message they would not otherwise get a chance to see. If this movie gets wide distribution in Arab countries, I believe it will be, to coin a phrase, “the camel’s nose under the tent.”

UPDATE: Does anyone have any idea why Gibson put the raven in the film? What was that all about?

Posted by Ted at April 10, 2004 8:57 PM

Your review sounds like so many comments I've heard from other christians who've seen the movie. It seems that if you know th story, and know the impact of what his death meant, then you tend to see the movie in a better light. Non- believers say it's over graphic, believers say it's not graphic enough.

I myself have not seen it, but would very much like to.

Great review!

Posted by: Suzanne at April 11, 2004 1:05 AM

Hi Ted !
Thanks for the comment. I think I would add that Mel Gibson omitted one important point at the crucifixion of Jesus. The Centurion that witnessed it said, "Surely this man was the Son of God".

I was sorry to see this omission, because I think it is very valid conclusion. Have a good day !


Posted by: Jim Bates at April 11, 2004 5:16 PM

I too was disappointed they left out that quote.

Posted by: Ted at April 11, 2004 7:31 PM

I think if the mopping up of blood after the scourging was a Jewish custom, there would have been some mention of it prior to the movie. I believe Mel has taken artistic liberty to illustrate a Catholic belief that the blood of Christ is so sacred it must be treated with the utmost respect. Catholic churches have special systems for disposing of the leftover wine & wafers after Communion. I don't begrudge them the respect of Christ's blood - we should all learn to be so reverent. I do however, feel that throwing this scene into an otherwise historically correct account is not appropriate. Unless you have a Catholic background, you might assume that this was really the way of the day. Maybe I am wrong and it truly was what happened - I just never heard about it prior to viewing the movie.

Posted by: Ann at April 12, 2004 8:40 AM

Check out the web sites on Anne Catherine Emmerich. She was a nun in the 16th century. You might find it interesting.

Posted by: Ned Swift at April 12, 2004 8:57 AM

I was disappointed that Mary Magdalene was portrayed as a prostitute. There is no mention of this in the Bible, she was however delivered of seven demons. Also Pontius Pilate was portrayed too kindly even historians agree that he was barbaric. The most intense and gripping part of the movie for me was when Jesus embraced the cross. It really brought it home how he willingly went to the cross in obedience to the Father.

Posted by: Elaine at April 12, 2004 7:10 PM

I see what you mean. It is very interesting.

Posted by: Ted at April 12, 2004 7:23 PM