Passion of Christ Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
March 2nd, 2004

The "Passion of the Christ" Will Stir Your Soul by Homer Yen
(c) 2004

Never in recent history has so much scrutiny and buzz simultaneously been lathered onto a film as "The Passion of the Christ." It is clear that this film wants to venerate this King of Jews, the bread of life, and the Son of God. This is a serious film about a serious subject as it follows the last days of Jesus of Nazareth (James Caviezel). These last events are well-known enough that even the most agnostic of audience members will find some point with which to connect.

The creation of this bold project is a clear labor of love for Mel Gibson, who undertakes a seemingly impossible leadership role in its direction and its screenplay. He has ably struck a delicate balance that praises Jesus without specifically praising Catholicism. Heavy on slow-motion sequences and sweeping symphonic passages, the cinematic experience is tremendously potent. "The Passion of the Christ" is a moving film that will linger in your minds for some time.

It chronicles His capture by opposition zealots who are concerned with Jesus's growing influence. We are also presented with fleeting images of the Last Supper in which bread and wine are given to his reverent guests. Most recognizable yet wrenching are the last hours of his life as he endures the humility of his indictment, the unbearable suffering at the hands of those that have judged against him, and then finally the crucifixion.

A caution should be given to those who may faint at the sight of blood. This is a film that is more gruesome than other films that you may have seen. It is not that more blood is spilled than any other R-rated horror film or R-rated war film. It is watching this holy figure being tortured to death that makes it upsetting on a personal level. It is admittedly difficult to watch as he is brutally scourged, forced to carry his own cross atop a hill, and then staked through his hands and feet. These are elements that you don't just absorb but most endure.
The film, however, is not a theological dissertation. We only hear fleeting words from Him when he speaks about his beliefs. We are not introduced in detail to any of his teachings, although we do gather that he possesses an unconditional love for everyone. His pacifist approach is so noble that as the film progresses, we do feel a great sense of awe and sorrow for him.

Its efficacy is undeniable. You may know nothing about Jesus but will concede that he was trying to do something that was so much more than most could fathom. As such, his final hours seemed like a countdown to the destruction of humanity and you feel affected more profoundly.

If you're seeking entertainment, however, you should look elsewhere. There is no story arc that pits good versus evil. The level of energy remains at a sobering level throughout. And there are no happy moments during the entire film.

However, Director Mel Gibson's goal was to create the "most realistic" film about Jesus ever made. And his desire was to channel his personal views as an ultraconservative Catholic regarding humanity's greatest example of fear and arrogance. The debate of whether he achieved this goal is better left to theologians and perhaps to those that share his evangelical Christian faith. Nonetheless, this film is a wonderful testament to Gibson's skill as a gifted director.

Grade: B+
S: 0 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 4 out of 3

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