Passion of Christ Review

by David N. Butterworth (dnb AT dca DOT net)
March 18th, 2004

A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2004 David N. Butterworth

** (out of ****)

    Putting all theological considerations aside for a minute let me just say that Mel Gibson's controversial "The Passion of the Christ" simply isn't that worthy a motion picture and that's as good a reason as any to boycott it. You also need an extremely strong stomach to sit through its torturous two hours of Jim Caviezel being scourged, flagellated, and tenderized like a side of choice USDA beef, then left on a cross to die. This is graphic, disturbing, "NC-17"-rated stuff (although the MPAA chose to release it with a ridiculous "R" rating) that will not sit well with most people be they Christians, Jews, Romans, Roman Catholics, Philistines, Pharisees, crazy Italians, atheists, or any other red-blooded denomination. When a nail is positioned in Jesus's right palm (framed by flashbacks to the Last Supper and the Sermon on the Mount) I naively believed that director Gibson was finally showing some restraint. Oh how naive. SPLAT! The nail is given an Almighty whack, blood spurts forth (in slow-mo), the nail splinters out through the back of the wooden cross, blood drips down (again in slow-mo), and the nail is hammered over flat; done; crucified. Jesus was not spared nor are we spared Gibson's excesses. Every Significant Moment is shot in this fashion, including Judas's silver payoff, Gethsemane's betrayer's kiss, and key Stations of the Cross. Choosing to focus on Jesus's final hours, as brutal as they are context free, is akin to taking "Oliver Twist" and filming only the scene in which Bill Sykes bludgeons Nancy to death. Gibson's preaching to the converted here and his "Passion'" is about as entertaining as the clubbing of baby seals.

David N. Butterworth
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