“ Genre: Documentary - Religious / Theatrical Release: 2004 / Director: Mel Gibson / Actors: James Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci ... / DVD released 31 August, 2004 at Icon Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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Mel Gibsons film caused a stir when it came out. Im not exactly sure why, I heard quite a lot of people saying it was anti Semitic, although I didn't really think it was. However that might be as I am an atheist and just took it as the same type of work of fiction as Star Wars - although a little more gruesome! I am fairly sure you will have heard the story before, basically there was this guy called Joseph and a woman called Mary who had a baby, although they hadn't had sex, and decided to call him Jesus, and he turned out to be a really nice bloke.... only joking...
It centres around the punishment of Jesus, thus the big picture of him with his crown of thorns, and the passions referring to him taking everyones punishment, or whatever it was he was supposed to be doing...
It is very gruesome, and I wouldn't recommend it for any reason, doesn't tell a great story, doesn't make you think, doesn't convert you to or against religion, and certainly doesn't make you laugh.
Don't watch this
I have just watched this film for the second time - and yet again, I couldn't fail to be moved yet again.
The film follows the story of Jesus from his betrayal by Judas Iscariot, right up until his persecution and crucifixion. We all know the story - but this is the first time I have seen the story portrayed with any degree of realism.
There has been a lot of criticism regarding this film because of the gratuitous violence within it and the belief that there is some anti-Jewish message portrayed in the film. I have to say that I really don't think that either of these criticisms stand up to any real scrutiny and I think that people are confusing the content of the events portrayed in this film with the possible personal beliefs and prejudices that have been attributed to Mel Gibson over recent years.
It is true that this film has a lot of violence within it - and, even to someone like me who is generally not offended by violence in films, I have to say that I watch this film with absolute horror at the brutality that man can inflict upon man. Putting the religious aspects aside, there is no doubt that, within history, flogging, scrouging and crucifixion were regarded as valid and accepted punishments - and its only right that watching this being inflicted on another is uncomfortable and gruesome - and shocking. This story has been told so often that I think many of us are completely immune to the horror of what this man went through because of his beliefs. I had never really thought of what being nailed to a cross really involved, and the pain, humiliation and agony that this man experienced - not to mention the pain felt by those who loved him.
Both times I have watched this film I have ended up feeling quite traumatised by the conclusion of the film. The violence is unrelenting and the impact that this has upon me is to feel complete and utter shock, revulsion and sadness at the pain and suffering of one man. To me, it doesn't really matter what you're religious beliefs are.....it doesn't matter whether you believe Jesus was the son of God, or whether you believe in God - whoever this man was, he suffered unbelievably and in ways that no one should ever suffer.
But the film does have some moments where you appreciate that, despite all of the evil that can be inflicted by man, there are many others who stand against this. During the film there are examples of many individuals who display random acts of kindness to Jesus......sometimes at great risk to themselves. While watching this film it is easy to dismiss these acts of goodness and humanity as they don't have the impact that the other actions do - but having said that, they are there and when looking back on the film I feel its important to remember that this man not only experienced torture but also inspired and received love and compassion from people who didn't even know him.
Initially I thought the fact that all of the language in the film is spoken in Aramaic (the language of Christ) and hence subtitled, was going to be a huge distraction to me. However, I didn't find this at all. The Aramaic language adds to the atmosphere of the film as its a wonderfully poetic and passionate language. To be honest, there is not a massive amount of dialogue in the film anyway, and the film relies largely on visual presentation.
Jame Caviezel, who plays Jesus, is totally fabulous. His acting is superb and its a travesty that he didn't receive an Oscar for his performance.....its a shame that politics denied him this. Rosalinda Celentano, who played the devil, is also great and although she did not portray the devil in a traditional guise, I thought she exhibited a very mature and sophisticated performance.
I am not a theologist (or even religious for that matter!) and so I find it hard to comment on the biblical connatations of this film. Like many, I knew the basic story from Sunday School - but I've never really delved into it much beyond this. However, last time I watched this film I felt inspired to go and read The Bible to read about the events depicted in this film - and having watched it again, I feel inspired to go and do so again!
Did I enjoy the film?? No..... I don't think it would be right to say that I "enjoyed" the film.....it is traumatic and painful to watch - and the emotions I experienced during watching it, stayed with me long after the film ended. However, I do believe this is a film that everyone should watch because the fact that it makes people react with horror and shock when watching the violence, means that this film reaches out to many of us in ways that other films' simply do not.
We all know the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is betrayed by one of his disciples Judas on Mount Gethsemane and is subsequently arrested. He is tried by Pontius Pilate and after a series of gruesome tortures, is nailed to a cross. He dies, but three days later, he rises from the dead. Whether you believe in this is another matter but belief alone could severely sway how much you end up enjoying this film that focuses on the last days of Christ on Earth. There is however, no need to take extreme sides based on how much of this you are willing to accept. No need to speak unfairly, harshly and offensively against the premise just because you're not a believer. On the other hand, no need to pass this off as the best film, most incredibly emotional film ever made, trying to force it onto all the non-believers, just because you happen to believe everything depicted in the film.
But it is an undeniable fact that the endless graphic violence portrayed in the film will have a more obvious, powerful impact on the Christian population of the audience. Be warned, this is an extremely violent film. The most violent movie ever? Probably not even close, thanks to the never-ending cycle of torture porn films being churned our way these days. Does director Mel Gibson takes it too far? No. What Gibson sets out to show is the frank, non-sugar-coated account of what the Bible describes. Nothing more, nothing less, so the excruciating amount of torture scenes that include Jesus being whipped repeatedly by two monstrous looking "cat o' nine tails," handled by two hateful, menacing guards is hard to watch. As his flesh start tearing, blood starts oozing, and then pouring out of him, quickly spreading to the surrounding, covering the ground with his blood.
The fact that he endured all this for our sins is deeply moving and no doubt many members of the audience will shed plenty of tears as a result. The violence can feel as a powerful tool showing the love that seems to have no bounds but again, this is only likely to be felt if you're a believer. If you're a staunch atheist, the self-sacrifice and pain will mean a lot less and the violence will hardly translate into a message of love and hope. The crucifixion itself is also very detailed, showing us the actual nails being hammered in; so brace yourselves for some very realistic, gut-churning portrayal of violence. Its intentions are unquestionably noble, although it's definitely not easy to sit through. It doesn't come as a surprise that at the time of its release, watching "The Passion of the Christ" without having to turn your head away from the screen for even split-second was considered "cool" and people made bets on whether someone could achieve this.
Powerful subject matters require an outstanding cast and Gibson certainly put together an admirable set of actors to play out incredibly challenging roles, whilst also having to speak in several different foreign languages. James Caviezel is fantastic in the title role of Jesus, his intense, dedicated performance perfectly capturing the unimaginable amount of pain the character is going through. In some of the flashback scenes that show the time he spent with his disciples, Caviezel has absolutely no trouble giving a quieter, more restrained and calmer portrayal showing pure love. He is never overly sentimental and proves he really is one of the most underrated, under-awarded actors in Hollywood. Maria Morgenstern, playing Maria, the mother of Jesus, also never overplays her part even whilst she has to endure watching her son suffer night and day. All she can do is stand on the sidelines and she can hardly provide any support for her beloved son. There is nothing more painful for a parent to go through than this, and Morgenstern masterfully conveys the exact emotion, providing one of the most heart-breaking scenes in the film. She hardly needs to use words for her part, which goes to show just how expressive she can be only using her face. Monica Bellucci, barely recognisable with proper clothes on, delivers a fantastic performance as Mary Magdalen. She is mostly seen with Mary, the mother, and isn't given an enormous amount to do, but when she is required to act, Bellucci can pull it off marvelously and not let the team down. Another actress who deserves much praise is Rosalinda Celentano, the scary, bald actress who portrays Satan. Wrapped in an all-black fashion, her glaring eyes are truly terrifying and how she glides from one place to another (to witness all the events involving Christ in great detail to her much enjoyment) has an odd sense of perverted stylishness and despite her relatively short on-screen time, she immediately sticks to the mind and refuses to be forgotten easily.
You should avoid this if you meet any of these two criteria: 1) If you seriously can't handle violence. If little glimpses of surgical procedures freak you out, stay well away from this one. 2) If you are going to dispute the content and hate the film as a whole just because you "disagree" with the concept of Christianity or religion. But for others, this should be well worth your time, as an enriching, powerful story/biopic (delete as appropriate) that is as dramatic as it is moving. But obviously, the moving factor will have a far deeper, more profound effect on church-goers.
This film was I beleive the most horrifying and humanly brutal I have had the dissappointment for my eyes to view, however the essence and fear I felt with myself and my relationship with christ and religion was astronomical.
This is the film of the crucifixtion and resurection of christ and the prelude towards this barbarous act showing the judgement with judus and pontius pilate. The story taken from the new testament and partly the book of revelation is the religious tale otherwise known as the passion. Albeit the passion of christ and its testaments surrounding has been portrayed many a time in history by literature, film and play this particular direction was undertaken by mel gibson and had incredibly gruesome and bloody scenes which became so brutally vicious in turn it was a mass hollywood glamouriser of torture.
I was incresingly disgusted whilst I was present seated within the cinema watching this brutality and yet the pressure of the film simply down to its source of religious script was piercing through my mind and I became highly emotional and almost hysterical, by the thought and brutal reality that christ did in fact suffer this atrocity.
Here is the significant dilema within this film, its whole genre reeks of horror, sickening torture qualities and a beating that is almost treasured within some areas of the world today and yet watching it made me want to feel closer to god, so where did this film start to be a brutal fantasy and end in a emotional attachment to god and christ. I left little time towards the end to continue the battle of this question within my head and simply walked out of the cinema, as well as being unable to watch the end of it whilst watching it on dvd with freinds, but perhaps thats simply my own downfall.
This is an incredible film, a brutal film and one that will shock you more than many in fact possibly the most shocking that is to be viewed, however its worth a watch to stake your own opinion on what you think is right and wrong about it. Was it worth making, Im not sure, indeed it tells the story of the passion once again but this has been told many a time before however being a christian Im not sure I felt the pain of christ so intently which stayed with me for days, so therefore this perhaps could have been one of the greatest films in history.
Watch the film yourself, however dont entertain the thought of watching it with under 18's because its not for the younger mind to tolerate.
I dont normally write reviews in the way I am about to so my apologies in advance if this is not to everyones taste. However, I hate this movie, if anyone asks me what I think of it I have something quite specific to say so why not say it in a review?
All that happens in this movie is you see a guy get tortured, crucified and dragged up a hill on a cross. I would like to be able to tell you there is a bit more to it than that but sadly not. There are no wise words or spiritual teaching to be heard in this film. There is nothing about Christianity or Religion in this movie it presupposes you know all that and merely wants to show you the last moments of Jesus in as a graphic way as possible. As such it is arguably more violent in a desensitizing way than any other film.
There is one scene when you see Jesus tied over a stone in a public area, then you see a whole load of different sharp weapons of torture then the torture begins and camera goes away and you just hear screams and the sound of these weapons hitting flesh, and the screams go on and on and on, and then it just drags it on a little further. I guess the production teams view is thatthere is no harm beating a few horses to death when you consider what Jesus went through. And sadly this is really all that ever happens in the film.
Seriously after a while you actually want them to kill the guy and get it over with, sadly nothing is that simple. So when they finally nail him to the cross they then proceed to drag it up a hill to plant it at its final resting place. But not before they show you the cross fall over, complete with Jesus attached, no less than 3 times and in slow motion for good measure. Again this presumably to show you every last bit of physical pain Jesus endured en route to his death but they never told you what he lived for in the first place. The way this movie is made is such that it desensitizes you to violence by forcing you to observe nothing else, there is seriously no actual story going on, at all, to explain why any violence is taking place, I guess it assumes everybody knows that to begin with.
Sorry if thats a bit of a rant but that is my view, I really cannot recommend this film to anyone and especially not to anyone to learn anything about the spiritual teachings of Christ.
Saw it a month back or so and i loved it! I don't have the exact word to describe it but it had this certain aura about it, and somehow you could feel the pain he was going through.
Considering that the story only focuses on the last few hours,there is not much to play around with.But the director/writer does complete justice with a very mature treatment of the subject, at times playing with the emotions of the viewer. Its an engrossing affair and you are hooked till the last minute,despite knowing what is going to happen.
Its a story about faith, and you just can't help but realise the difference between the faithful and the unfaithful.The protagonist looks his part and carries the role with aplomb,portraying all the pain and the torture he has been going through.One major drawback of this film is its violence,it might be too much for a family audience.The proceedings may also appear to be a bit on the slower side for many,but being a boring person myself,i didn't mind!
Passion of the Christ is an essential film that needs to be seen by film lovers.I guarantee you some hair raising moments and something that would stay on your mind for a few days.
--------Also on ciao under the same name-------
Usually ,when holidays start, television program changes. No matter what holiday it is, may it be Christmas, ester,... television program will be suitable for those times. Now in the times when Christians all over the world celebrate the death and rebirth of Christ - a lot of movies with that theme is being showed. I shall not speak about religion, even though this is a religious movie, I will tell you just what I think of it.
I have heard a lot of stuff about this movie. Even that a women died of hart attack while watching this in theatres. "It's suppose to by bloody" was a constant comment when talking about this one. Combine all those things + Mel Gibson and some other famous actors and you have an interesting movie.
Movie talks about the last couple of day of Jesus before he dies. It show us, how he was betrayed, judged, whipped, punished and nailed to the cross. It show us, not tell us. If you aren't familiar with story you will feel that something is missing. We never see, how Jesus, foresees the betrayal of Judas and why he betrays him. In the movie it just showed, how it happened. Now after I have seen it, I see why the Jew community was upset, wit portrait of the Jews in the movie. The Jews that are shown as the responsible for death of Christ. Scenes of punishment are surreal, effect that was used are extremely well, you can see the pain and suffering. I have read that James Caviezel, actually got some scars because of whipping accident, and a dislocated shoulder while barring his cross. Scenes ware kept. So pain on his face is sometimes real. Even blood looks more real, and there is a lot of it. And all this together and ad the actual language that was spoken in that time, good costumes and some historical details and you have an excellent movie. A movie, that look like a documentary. It's like you would travel back in time and witness al the those things. The only thing that make it some unreal is the scenes of Satan, and when Judas is seeing things. Otherwise it look realistic. If this was the movie that I would see as a young boy instead of that glory filed, often beautiful colored and non bloody images of the Passion, I would probably not become an atheist.
As for the actors. James Caviezel dose make a good Jesues. He reminded me of Argon from LOTR in a couple of scenes, but he is convincing. Specially in the torture scenes he is excellent, a little less in the preaching scenes.
There is no other women in the world that could act out the role Magdalen, then Monica Bellucci. Just by the way she looks you know what she is suppose to be. A prostitute or a women of a cleansed spirit. Her sorrow eyes, can be very powerful. Mary was for me least persuasive. And that they have to speak in al those languages - excellent work.
Directing and editing is superb. Pain and tests of faith are very well captured. Specially the pain, you truly can fell it.
Soundtrack is very suitable to.
Converting movie, this is.
-:I say none
Sum: movie, even atheist will enjoy.
The best horror film of its year, Mel Gibson's highly controversial The Passion Of The Christ is a gruelling, visceral, graphic, exhausting chronicle of the last hours of Christ's life, from his arrest through his trail and scourging and, finally, death by crucifixion.
Arguments about the anti-Semitic content of the piece (is Gibson blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus Christ? Is the film designed to incite hatred?) seemed a touch ridiculous as the time of release, but have become - given that infamous, disgusting drunken outburst - impossible to discount in the years since.
Whether or not Gibson's film is hate-mongering trash, however, is up for the individual to decide - I personally think not, but I am aware that there are many intelligent and considered arguments to be made to the contrary. What is beyond dispute, though, is the sheer power of the film, and the aching beauty with which it paints even the fiercest, most savage scenes (and there are plenty of those on offer).
Gibson's Passion Play is a distinctly Catholic affair, rich with the influence of Caravaggio and Titian - all densest blues and blacks for the night-time sequences and searing oranges and browns for the rest, interspersed with lashings - and I do mean lashings - of the thickest, deepest red. It is a film not about salvation, theology or philosophy, but about suffering. Suffering for the Christ onscreen, and suffering for the audience, whether they be Christian, Agnostic or otherwise.
Clearly The Passion Of The Christ is the film Gibson has been working towards since embarking on his directorial career with 1993s Man Without A Face. That film, Braveheart and this all, essentially, tell the same story. A teacher / leader figure is set upon by fearful, vengeful societal forces and subjected to the most wicked torture, be it mental or physical or both.
Gibson's penchant for tortured protagonists is nigh-on legendary, and memorably lampooned in the Passion-baiting South Park episode The Passion Of The Jew. It has, alongside the alleged anti-Semitism, been the source of much of the criticisms directed towards him, and this film in particular.
At times, one must admit, that torture-porn tag DOES, in the case of The Passion, seem fairly close to justified. Certainly the seemingly never-ending scourging sequence appears to take uncommon delight in every lash of the whip, every inch of flesh wrenched from the bone. One could argue that the film in its entirety amounts to little more than that - to a perverse revelling in one man's physical destruction.
That, though, is surely an important part of Christian belief - a more important part than many might wish to admit. By crafting such a distressing, disturbing spectacle, Gibson is surely doing nothing that isn't already being done in most every church (certainly Catholic church) you might wish to step into of a time. It is the stations of the cross granted life by a master filmmaker who takes his inspiration from a wide range of sources literary, artistic and filmic. Of the latter, the most pleasing element is a wholly unexpected vein of supernatural horror running thick throughout proceedings. Feral, snarling children chase Judas Iscariot to his death, werewolf-like beasts snarl from the shadows, a truly terrifying Satan (played by the brilliant Rosalinda Celentano) stalks the periphery of most every scene.
Even the edited version, removing several of the more explicit scenes and shots, is an oppressive, deeply disturbing experience. The mood of the piece as a whole is so relentlessly hopeless and bleak (something the blink-and-you'll-miss-it nod to the resurrection at the end hardly alleviates) that a few seconds of flayed flesh here and there scarcely make any difference.
So - Anti-Semitic? I don't think so, but many do - the question is, even if it IS that hateful and detestable, is it any less of a film? It's a question individual viewers will have to answer for themselves. For me, it is still an astonishing work, in much the same way as Triumph Of The Will or The Birth Of A Nation remain astonishing works even if they ARE utterly, sickeningly repugnant (I'm not comparing what Gibson has done to what Riefenstahl or Griffith did, but many do).
Fans of the film, and the phenomenal box-office success suggests they are legion, are well served by a fantastic 2-disc collectors edition DVD featuring both a filmmakers commentary and a fairly interesting "theological commentary", and an exceptional feature-length documentary covering every aspect of the film's creation (although skimping some, sadly, on the post-release fireworks).
It is easily Gibson's best film thus far, and, alongside Pasolini's The Gospel According To Matthew, Zeffirelli's Jesus Of Nazareth and Denys Arcand's Jesus Of Montreal, one of the very best Jesus-related pictures of all time.
I watched The Passion Of The Christ last night with my friend because I had heard so much about it that Iwanted to see what all the fuss was about. I was shocked at how horribly Jesus last few hours were portrayed.
I think when Mel Gibson had the idea of Passion Of The Christ he was trying to shock people and the only way he knew how to do it was to turn the story of the crucifixion into a nasty snuff movie. I don't argue that Jesus suffered at the end of his life. I am a Christian and am aware of the pain He went through to save us but this film is horrible.
The plot of the film is basically the crucifixion that we all know about and events that happened leading up to it, It is such a horribly violent film that for me it took every little bit of religion out of the film because I could not see past the blood and gore.
James Caviezel plays Jesus and I think he played the part very well and has a good look for this part. The costumes and speech are I think accurate for the time of Jesus. The film is spoken in a mixture of Aramaic and common Latin all the way through and there are subtitles in English and I thought this was silly and annoying. I don't mind subtitled films at all but I think that the Passion Of the christ should have been filmed in English because Aramaic is an ancient language that not many people know now.I think it was used to add a bit of authenticity to the film but it it just pretentious and unnecessary.
One other thing that shocked me about the film was that I couldn't find any character I could feel any empathy with even Jesus. I felt sorry for him because during the film he was beaten and very badly treated but I felt more for him as a man than as Jesus. One scene in particular when he wwas whipped and beaten for a long time made me feel sick to the stomach and I don't think it added anything to the film except to make it stand out as a violent film. I thought the lady who played Jesus mother was the best part of the film because she reacted as any mom would if they saw their child going through the agony Jesus went through. She was a very sweet character and obviouslyy loved her son very much and was in her own agony at his suffering,.
I felt a bit dirty watching this and I am not over reacting saying this. I like a horror film and don't worry about watching violent films but I think the Church were very right to be so upset about it when it was first releaseda few years ago. Jesus is a figurehead for religion so to use his story to make such horrible entertainment for people should not have been allowed.
There are some extras on my DVD but i didn't watch them because it had tired me just watching the film. Mel Gibson gives his excuses for making such disgusting entertainment in a commentary and there is a feature shwing how the film was made.
I would rather watch the more gentle Jesus of Nazereth with Robert Powell, even though the outcome is the same I do not think there is any need for all of the violence.
I watched Mel Gibsons controversial The Passion of the Christ when it was on TV on Easter Sunday (yes, I have that much of a backlog of reviews!). Im not religious at all, but I figured this would be the most fitting time to watch it, it there is such a time.
Obviously, it tells the story of the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, from his betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, to his final crucifixion. Along the way we see flashbacks of Jesuss life, including the last supper and his teaching on the mountain, and we follow Mary Magdalene, somebody and somebody as they follow Jesuss torturous final moments.
Thats probably the shortest plot summary Ive ever done, because firstly everybody knows the story already, and secondly this film is more about the experience than the story.
I must say, before I go on to talk about Mel Gibsons sadistic violence and such, that this film is undeniably powerful. It will surely be more resonant to Christians than to non-Christians, but anybody watching this will be shocked and saddened, and probably emotionally drained, by the film. Its made in such a way that it squeezes out all the emotion and feeing possible, and there are lots of heart-string-pulling scenes. Most notably for me was when Jesus stumbles, and Mary runs to him, and were shown a flashback of a similar incident when he was a child. In slow motion, and with emotional music, this is a real tear-jerker.
Its also a very well-made and good looking film, although it feels sort of sacrilegious to look at such a religious film on a purely aesthetic level. All the costumes looked excellent, and the special effects were pretty good, whether its showing Satan and its demon-child thing, or indeed the bloody scenes of violence.
It is this violence which the Passion of the Christ will be most remembered for. If youre simply looking at how gory it is, its pretty disgusting, and justifiably 18-rated, but no worse than youd get in an average horror movie of the same rating. Its the way Mel Gibson lingers over this violence, and draws it out so much, that I didnt like. Jesuss walk through the street with the cross on his back goes on for far too long, and watching him fall over countless times doesnt make you feel for him any more than if hed just fallen over a couple of times.
The film is about two hours long, and much of that running time is simply watching Jesus getting whipped, tortured and beaten to a bloody pulp, mostly shown in slow motion and leaving nothing to the imagination. Yes, its powerful, but its also unnecessary to rub it in the audiences faces constantly. The scene where he is nailed to the cross is extremely unpleasant, mostly because there is no need to show the blood squirting out in slow motion.
There were claims that the Pope watched a special screening of this film, and said something along the lines of it is as it was, which caused a fair bit of uproar. I cant help thinking that unless he was there at the time, it seems like a slightly presumptuous thing to say.
The performances are very good, especially Jim Caviezel as Jesus, although like the fact that its a good-looking film, this seems beside the point. The whole film is spoken in Aramaic, with subtitles at the bottom, and I think this was a very good idea since it makes it more realistic and somehow more powerful. It also makes it more pretentious and self-important, but I can forgive this.
The Passion of the Christ was exactly what Id imagined, and I think you will already know whether or not youll like the film before you watch it. Its overly brutal and extremely difficult to watch, but it does make you feel, even if that feeling is disgust rather than empathy. Any film that makes me feel this strongly is probably an achievement, and so for that reason Id say its worth watching. Whether youre Christian or not, this is a universal message of love and sacrifice, made in a striking way.
Its a film of extremes, but the extremely good and extremely bad aspects cancel each other out, so rather than loving or hating it, Id say its OK.
The Passion of the Christ can be bought from www.hmv.co.uk for £6.99.
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Jim Caviezel Jesus
Maia Morgenstern Mary
Monica Bellucci Mary Magdalen
Christo Jivkov John
Francesco De Vito Peter
Classification: 18 (sequences of graphic violence)
Running time: 127 minutes
Production year: 2004
My rating: 6/10
As a person who is not religious I watched this movie out of curiosity and also had an unbiased view of the story of Jesus's crucificiton. As we all know there are 100s of versions of this event (different religions believe they have the "right" version) and there are some of us who question whether this event actually took place.
Anyway, back to the film...... I found the actual storyline was very limited in that it was difficult for those with no religious background to understand aspects of what was going on. It assumed religious knowledge of the viewer.
Some of the scenes were very effective and moving. However, I thought far too much of the film was centred around the mindless beating of Jesus and watching him walk several kms strapped to a cross! It was as if all the other interesting information and thoughts of his didn't seem as important as the bloodshed.
I was also amazed by the lack of emotion shown by Mary. At one stage a tear did trickle down her cheek but that was about it. There didn't seem to be any fight for justice ( I am sure any mother would instinctfully fight harder for the life of her child). Just an observation.....
I think there was a lot of hype over this movie when really who knows what actually took place????? A awful lot of focus was placed on the beatings. It seemed to take forever for him to die.
So all in all I found it to be far less of a movie than I expected - didn't really have the EPIC feel I would have expected to be conveyed by this story. Maybe I didn't feel as much because I'm not religious?
I did however, think the actor who played Jesus (Jim Caviezel) was stunning to look at (before he was beaten to a pulp that is!) That was an excellent piece of casting.
Everyone should view this film to form their own opinion. I thought it was just average.
Apology. Try as I would, I cannot make my ops appear on this platform unharmed in terms of punctuation. I have tried every known method to no avail. I am very sorry for the inconvenience.
I liked the film and was very much moved by it. I am an Orthodox believer (Russian Orthodox Church). At times I do feel that my faith is flagging, wavering. When I went to see the film, it was one of those periods of doubt, irresolution and a kind of cynic weakness. I will not tell you that I went out of the cinema a man reborn – unfortunately, I cannot say so. But I felt that darkness in my heart receded somehow. I felt as if some gust of wind helped sustain the warmth and glow of embers of my best feelings*).
In my opinion, it is wrong to put the blame for the death of Jesus Christ on Jews and on Jews only. Everyone is to blame. And everyone means me (and you). Every sin is ultimately an insult, a blow or a wound inflicted upon the Son of God (or a crime against one s better self, if you like). Gibson has done his best to prevent anti-Semites from using his work as a pretext to make the first throw.
If you try and take this standpoint, you’ll understand that the bloodcurdling show of atrocities against the Prince of Peace serves no other purpose but a call for taking a closer look at oneself and repentance and making a step toward a better self.
The film shows violence its true, quite ugly and inhuman, face.
In the end, me (and you) will inevitably side with either the servants of God or the servants of Satan. Because when we are gone, the world will have become a better or worse, to a measure, place to live in, even if for a while.
* * *
Q. You’ve said nothing about the film as it is. Did you like the casting, the acting, the camera work, etc.?
A. I would rate it with the best films inspired by the New Testament or obviously related to it. You’ll find a short list of them below.
Q. Do you agree with Gibsons reported claim that his work is loyal to the Original?
A. No. But none of the digressions is prohibitive from the viewpoint of a believer. The introduction of the Prince of Darkness, his markedly bisexual nature, the boys haunting Judas, on the one hand, and the mother-son aspects of the script, on the other, are all very strong points, and they serve the directors purpose only too well.
Q. What are the film s weak points?
A. If I were the director, I would have underscored that Holy Mary was no ordinary woman, that she was no ordinary mother – at the expense of the violent scenes.
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o Voskhozhdeniye (The Ascent), dir. by Larisa Shepitko, USSR, 1977
o Black Jesus, dir. by Valerio Zurlini, Italy, 1968
- Rock opera:
o Jesus Christ Superstar, music by A.Ll. Webber, lyrics by T. Rice
*) Cf: Lying in bed, you light a cigarette and the red glow lights an arm, a breast and a thigh around which the world seems to revolve. These images are like embers of our best feelings, and standing on the beach, for that first hour, it seems as if we could build them into a fire.(J. Cheever. The Seaside Houses. In: The Stories of John Cheever, 5th edition, Ballantine Books, NY, 1984, p. 570)
* * *
Finally, I would like to add these three quotations, because I feel they are inseparable from the subject-matter of this essay. In any case, whenever I think of this film, they come to my mind, at times vaguely, at times clear-cut.
He, who has come to hate a sin, has taken the first step of the heavenly ladder. If your thoughts are free from sin at all times, then you are on the second step. And he, who has experienced a perfect love of God, is on the third step. However, that happens to man but rarely.
To come into the love of God, one has to observe every single behest that Our Lord has left in the Gospel. One has to have a merciful heart, and to love not only a human being, but spare every creature, each and every of the God’s creations.
A leaf on a tree was shining green, and you have torn it off needlessly. It is not a sin, but it is pitiful for some reason for a heart that has learned to love, that pities every creature. But man is a great creation. And if you see that he has lost his way and is dying, then pray for him and weep, if you can, - and if you cannot, then do as little as heave a sigh for him in front of God. And God loves a heart that acts like this, for it becomes like Him.
/After the Reverend Siluan of Athon/
All the sins come in the wake of these three powers of the Satan: the first is forgetfulness, the second is negligence, and the third is sinful longing. Forgetfulness breeds negligence, negligence breeds longing for a crime; man drawn by a sinful longing comes to a fall.
/From Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church/
Lord Jesus! In the name of Thy Passions that You have suffered on the Cross, I implore You: take pity for my poor and sinful soul and show mercy to it when it parts with my perishable body.
/From A Book of Prayers by Father-Superior Savva/.
The Passion of the Christ depicts the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth (Jim Caviezel), beginning with his betrayal by Judas Iscariot (Luca Lionello) and ending with his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. Directed by Mel Gibson--who funded the film himself and co-wrote the screenplay--Passion uses flashbacks to substantiate a handful of pertinent moments in Jesus' life and teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the Last Supper, as well as his relationships with his mother and his disciples. Still, the drama focuses on the seemingly endless torture inflicted upon Jesus by Roman soldiers at the urging of the Jewish crowd that considers him a blasphemer, despite the attempts of a sympathetic Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov) to spare him from death. The faint of heart should be prepared for the brutal, barbaric beatings that Christ endures. This is the more realistic portrayal of the suffering that Christ endured rather than the 'romanticised' stance of Christ 'draped' on the Cross with a trickle of blood falling from His side.
Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, and Hristo Jivkov are touching as Mary, Magdalene, and John respectively, who are devastated by Jesus' fate yet aware that they can do nothing to change it. Performed in Aramaic and Latin with English subtitles, the film is just as riveting as it would be if spoken in English.
This is a very detailed and graphic portrayal of the final hours so be prepared.
Thank you for reading.
The passion of Christ chronicles the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareths life. It was directed, and partly produced by Mel Gibson. He also co-wrote the screenplay. Mel Gibson said that he had thought for twelve years about making this time, as being a Roman catholic, he felt he had a personal mission to research and examine the events that took place during the last twelve hours of Jesus life. My intention for this film was to create a lasting work of art and to stimulate serious thought and reflection among diverse audiences of all backgrounds, says Gibson. He continues: My ultimate hope is that this storys message of tremendous courage and sacrifice might inspire tolerance, love and forgiveness. Were definitely in need of those things in todays world. The languages spoke in the film are Aramaic and Latin and Originally the film wasnt going to have subtitles as Gibson believed that the images spoke for themselves.
As an artist, trying to depict such an awesome story, Gibson came under scrutiny. But he also had to scrutinise himself, as a line has to be drawn onto where personal story telling and devotion meet. A gospel is principally a theological document, not a biography or a history, although some history can be intuited from it. Gibson wanted to stay faithful to biblical accounts and free form personal interpretation, and so the screenplay was adapted from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Outrage, objections, and criticisms of the film were plentiful, if not expected, considering the magnitude of the subject. Audiences were moved and shocked by the graphic violent images in the film. On the first day of general release, Ash Wednesday, Peggy Scott, a 56 year old advertising sales manager from Kansas USA, collapsed of apparent heart failure while watching the crucifixion scene. She later died at the hospital.
Critics argued that by bringing together the four Gospel accounts it was creating a fifth Gospel- The Gospel according to Gibson. They also argued that it is impossible to create a story that contains no interpretation. The Jewish community thought that the film was promoting anti-Semitism as it depicted Jewish officers taking Jesus away to be crucified, and so ultimately condemning him to death. A New York Times editorial stated Mel Gibson's reactionary version of the suffering of Jesus, which provokes outrage and casts blame, fails Christian and Jew. (March 1, 2004) . The Christian community saw the film as a message from God and a tool to spread Gods word . They reacted to the anti-Semitic theories defensively, by quoting Johns Gospel: Then the band and captains and officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound him." (John 18:12.)
The non-partisan question that is raised by this film is - what does the film actually achieve? And with this accomplishment, has it left harm in its wake? Were elements of this film made to cause controversy as to elevate publicity? After all, this became the highest grossing rated R film in US box office history. Mel Gibson funded a proportionate amount of the film from his own pocket, and said that he would donate a percentage of the grossing to the catholic church. Gibson is quoted as saying despite specific religion and regardless of the cost of the project, that this film would be "good for the soul".
~ ~ Its hard to recall when a film last caused such a furore of criticism and comment in the media (both good and bad) as this two-hour plus depiction of Christs last hours on earth, The Passion Of The Christ. (Well, maybe Fahrenheit 911!)
~ ~ Mel Gibson, the famous all-action actor (and devout Christian), decided he wanted to make a movie about Christs Passion, from the time of his betrayal by Judas Iscariot in the Garden of Gethsemane to his death on the Cross at Calvary at the hands of the Jews and Romans. But the backing (or the motivation) to make such a movie was lacking in present-day Hollywood, so Gibson took the almost unprecedented decision to finance the movie with $30 million of his own fortune. He felt it was a story that he simply HAD to produce on celluloid, and was thus prepared to gamble his own money in order to ensure that it was produced. The fact that it is now making massive amounts of money at the worldwide box office was by no means a certainty when the idea was first mooted, and I take my hat off to Gibson for the moral courage and fortitude it must have taken in order to make this movie. (Not to mention the tremendous financial risk!)
~ ~ The film, quite simply, tells the story of Christs Passion. Where it comes in for criticism is that it doesnt do so in the stylised, sanitised way that it has been depicted on film in the past, but shows viewers the way it actually happened; the pain, the blood, the gore, the guts, the courage, and the unbelievable and almost unbearable agony of a person brutally scourged and then nailed and hung on a Cross to die.
The movie does this graphically, and practically from the opening sequences in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is first arrested, right up to the closing scenes when he eventually dies on the Cross at Golgotha, the violence is almost completely unrelenting. I went to the movie having already read acres of newsprint and reviews about it in the media, and so thought I was prepared for what I was about to watch. I was wrong! I wasnt prepared, and came out at the end totally shell shocked and almost traumatised at what I had just witnessed, such was the power of this film. I have watched it again a number of times since it was released on DVD, and even knowing what is coming next you STILL endure the same gut wrenching emotions that you experienced at your first viewing.
That said, I dont accept the massive criticism that Gibson has had to endure from some quarters in regard to the graphic violence in the movie. The scourging and crucifixion of our Lord WAS violent, and very, very nasty indeed. So I believe that the violence is an integral part of the whole story, and had it been fudged or in some way diluted to make it more acceptable to peoples sensibilities, then the movie would have lost all of its astounding impact and power. As the Holy Father (Pope John Paul) is reputed to have remarked after his private viewing of the film, It is as it was.
~ ~ Gibson has also come under fire for his anti-Semitism, which is supposedly portrayed in the movie. Quite where this charge comes from is beyond me!
His past has been dredged up and minutely dissected, even the fact that his father is somewhat of an apologist for the atrocities perpetuated on the Jewish people by Nazi Germany.
He has been accused of being a member of some obscure, fanatical, right wing Catholic sect that totally rejects the edicts and reforms of Vatican Two. (Which reformed the Catholic Church back in the 1960s) Again, this is blown out of all proportion. Put simply, Gibson rejects the changes in the Mass that were instigated by Vatican Two, and instead prefers to celebrate the Mass using the old, Latin rite, where the whole Mass is celebrated in the ancient Latin. He is by no means alone in this belief, and even here in my home city of Dublin you can still attend the Mass in Latin if you so desire. (The Vatican has now sanctioned this, after a short period when it was initially rejected as heretical)
Quite how Gibson could have changed the film in order to protect the sensibilities of the Jewish people escapes me! As the Holy Father rightly pointed out, it is as it was. The Jewish people of the time (and their Roman overlords) were responsible for condemning the Lord to death. Thats simple historical fact, however unpalatable it may be to some people. No sensible person could take any serious umbrage at this, as no sensible person could begin to imagine that anyone of sound mind could possibly still hold a grudge against the modern-day Jewish people for something that took place some 2,000 plus years ago.
In fact, the people who come out of this movie with the worst reputations are the ancient Roman soldiers, who by in large are portrayed as sadistic, violent brutes with a love of inflicting unspeakable torture on their victims. (I havent heard the modern-day Italians complaining about this. Have you?)
~ ~ Gibsons choice of actors for the film is nothing short of inspired.
For the part of Jesus he chose an actor called James Caviezel. (Angel Eyes 2001, High Crimes 2002) He played the role to almost total perfection, and in fact bore a striking resemblance to the actual historical figure of Jesus. (Or at least to the way he is often depicted in print)
The other actors who made a lasting impression on me were Maia Morgenstern, a little known Romanian actress who played the part of Mary, Jesuss mother, and Monica Bellucci (Matrix Revolutions) who took the role of Mary Magdalene, the reformed prostitute who Jesus saved from death by stoning.
I wasnt so sure of the choice of actor/actress for the part of Satan. Gibson used a woman, Rosalinda Celentano, and depicted Satan as an androgynous figure, who it was difficult to place as either male or female. The actual portrayal was excellent, with Satan coming across vividly as the old deceiver, and tempting Christ to abandon his plan to take upon himself the sins of the world. But Satan (or so the Bible tells us) is a male figure. He was the leading angel in heaven before his fall, and sat at Gods right hand: Lucifer, the light bearer. So where Gibson got the idea of portraying Satan in the way he did is a bit of a mystery!
~ ~ Throughout the film Gibson uses little flashbacks to remind the viewer of the divinity of Christ, and how his death by crucifixion was taking place to fulfil Gods divine plan for the world. He shows us the scene of the Last Supper, where the Lord instigated the Holy Eucharist by breaking the bread and drinking the wine with his disciples. He then graphically compares this with the real-life shedding of his flesh and blood.
Take this bread all of you and eat it. This is my body that will be given up for you. Again he took the cup, and giving it to his disciples said, Take this all of you and drink from it. This is the cup of the new and everlasting covenant. It is shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me. I personally thought that this was magnificently handled. I share in Communion on a regular basis, but these scenes really brought home to me the power and the sacrifice that the Lord made on behalf of all humanity, in the way the printed word never could.
Other moving scenes were of a young Jesus making a table in the courtyard of his home, watched by Mary his mother. The love between son and mother shone through, and Gibson shows us that undying love again in the scene where Mary runs to Jesus aid when he stumbles while carrying his Cross. The movie flashes back to Jesus falling and stumbling as a child, and his mother rushing to his aid with concern and love showing all over her face.
Marys place in the Christian church is outlined in the scene where she and his disciple John speak to the Lord as he is dying on the Cross. Mother, behold your son. Son, behold your mother. This is where Mary was given authority by the Lord as the Mother of the Church, and why she is today revered by Catholics as our Holy Mother and Our Lady.
~ ~ There is a tradition in the Catholic Church called the Stations of the Cross.
In every Catholic Church the way of Jesus last journey to Calvary is depicted on twelve plinths portrayed on the walls of the chapel. On occasion, Catholics (some more than others) will slowly re-live the Stations of the Cross by quietly contemplating on the agonies and the sacrifice of Christ on his last, most painful journey, while looking at the pictures. After watching The Last Passion of the Christ I will never look upon this small ritual in quite the same way again. Gibson has forever changed my vision of our Lords last journey, and when I perform this duty in the future it will be with a far better understanding of the agonies involved, and with a far deeper Christian devotion as a consequence.
Gibson catches it all on film. Jesus constantly stumbling and falling. The revulsion and loathing of the people on the route to Golgotha as they revile and spit at him. The hatred and sadism of the Roman soldiers as they mercilessly whip, kick and beat him. The compassion of Simon of Cyrene, who was press-ganged into assisting the Lord when his broken body could carry his Cross no longer. The brutality of the nails being driven through his hands and feet. His forgiveness, right up until the end, when he forgives the good thief at Calvary, when he repents of his sins.
Remember me when you enter your kingdom.
To which Jesus replies, I assure you, this day you will be with me in paradise.
His forgiveness of his tormenters. Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.
The darkening of the sky when the Lord finally breathed his last, and the earthquake that tore asunder the Jewish temple.
And the final (for me unforgettable) scene where the rock is rolled slowly back from the cave where they put his body, to show the resurrected Jesus, with only the holes of the nails in his hands as a reminder of his horrific ordeal and death.
For me, as for all Christians, THAT is the final victory.
~ ~ Was there anything about the film that I didnt like?
Well, as I already mentioned, I couldnt quite fathom why Gibson chose to depict Satan in the way he did. Also, I found the depiction of Judas Iscariot rather unsympathetic and harsh. Although I have to admit to always having had sneaking sympathy for Judas, as a man simply caught up in his role in a sequence of events over which he had no real say or control.
I thought the portrayal of Pilate a little wishy-washy. Historically, he is said to have been a harsh, brutal man, with a record of massive cruelty when it came to dealing with the Jewish people. Here in Gibsons film he is shown as a just (if weak) man, who simply wants to cover his own back in case his condemnation of Jesus leads to further trouble and insurrection.
But those few criticisms apart, I thought this was a totally marvellous movie.
~ ~ You may have noticed that I havent really dwelt at length on the graphic violence that is shown throughout the film. Thats because (for me) it wasnt the main point of the movie. The love, compassion and total and absolute goodness of the Lord are what I took most from the film. His love for all humanity, and his divine power shone through in every scene. Obviously, my interpretation of the movie is coloured by my Christian beliefs. (How could it be otherwise?) But even if you are not a believer, then this movie has much to offer even from the historical viewpoint.
Its not a film you could by any stretch of the imagination describe as enjoyable in the traditional sense, but its a film that cannot fail to leave you unmoved at some level. It took me fully half an hour to recover my composure when we left the cinema, and it had exactly the same effect on my wife, her friend, and our young daughter. (Almost 13)
~ ~ Not a film to be missed, and fully deserving of any honours and plaudits that may come its way. (Not that thats very likely, given the reaction of the majority of Hollywood moguls!)
After all the controversy has subsided, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ will remain a force to be reckoned with. In the final analysis, "Gibson's Folly" is an act of personal bravery and commitment on the part of its director, who self-financed this $25-30 million production to preserve his artistic goal of creating The Passion of Christ ("Passion" in its original context meaning "suffering") as a quite literal, in-your-face interpretation of the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus, scripted almost directly from the Gospels (and spoken in Aramaic and Latin with a relative minimum of subtitles) and presented as a relentless, 126-minute ordeal of torture and crucifixion. For Christians and non-Christians alike, this film does not "entertain" and it's not a film that one can "like" or "dislike" in any conventional sense. (It is also emphatically not a film for children or the weak of heart.) Rather, The Passion is a cinematic experience that serves an almost singular purpose: to show the scourging and death of Jesus Christ in such horrifically graphic detail (with Gibson's own hand pounding the nails in the cross) that even non-believers may feel a twinge of sorrow and culpability in witnessing the final moments of the Son of God, played by Jim Caviezel in a performance that's not so much acting as a wilful act of submission, so intense that some will weep not only for Christ, but for Caviezel's unparalleled test of endurance. If one judges what is on the screen (so gloriously served by John Debney's score and Caleb Deschanel's cinematography), there is fuel for debate about the film's alleged anti-Semitic slant but no obvious malice aforethought; the Jews under Caiphas are just as guilty as the barbaric Romans who carry out the execution, especially after Gibson excised (from the subtitles, if not the soundtrack) the film's most controversial line of dialogue. If one accepts that Gibson's intentions are sincere, The Passion can be accepted for what it is: a gruelling, straightforward (some might say unimaginative) and extremely violent depiction of The Passion, guaranteed to render devout Christians speechless while it intensifies their faith. Non-believers are likely to take a more dispassionate view, and some may resort to ridicule. But one thing remains undebatable: with The Passion of the Christ, Gibson puts his money where his mouth is. You can praise or damn him all you want, but you've got to admire his chutzpah. --Jeff Shannon