THE PASSION OF THE CHRISTARE LOVE AND FORGIVENESS ENOUGH? | Feb 27, 2004
Much to joy of the Christian Community and the chagrin of the Hollywood Suits, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is finally here. The intellectual elite would have you believe this is nothing but a gory, manipulative, anti Semitist propaganda piece. I couldn’t possibly disagree with them more. On the contrary, The Passion of the Christ is an extremely powerful film, with a message of love and forgiveness that can appeal to people of all ages, faiths and creeds. Myself, being an Agnostic and Sunday school dropout, wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but was nevertheless curious to check it out. I was honestly blown away.
Both heart wrenching in its unflinching depiction of the violence bestowed upon Jesus, and uplifting in His unwavering message of love, the film is at times both repulsive and beautiful. The story focuses on Jesus’s last days on Earth, picking up shortly following the Last Supper, with Jesus’s capture due to Judas’s betrayal. It follows Jesus’s persecution and torture, and ends with His crucifixion and rebirth. It exists not to show Gibson’s love for violence, but to display the astounding love, courage, and strength of Jesus’s character. Despite being betrayed and subsequently denied by His own disciples, turned on by the same mob that greeted him with open arms (and palm fronds), and beaten within an inch of his life, He never compromised his beliefs. He contained a love so pure and forgiveness so absolute that it transcended even His death. The violence is not for gorehound kicks, but for the audience’s absolute understanding of why the Christian faith was formed.
In addition, the attention to detail helps create an amazing sense of authenticity in the film. The use of Aramaic to tell the story is truly a masterstroke. Dialogue that would otherwise be hokey achieved a gravity one couldn’t possibly hope for with modern English. Likewise the use if the prosthetic nose on Jim Caviezel helped the audience to distance his acting persona and identify with him only as Jesus throughout the film. Plus, the films locations help to ground the film in a reality unattainable with cgi or man made sets. It sounds silly, but you’re there with Jesus the whole way.
This review wouldn’t be complete without addressing the Anti Semitism thing. It’s nonsense. Calling this film Anti-Semitist would be akin to saying that Frankenstein paints angry peasant mobs in a bad light. It is like the Emperor’s Clothes. They’re just not there. It deserves no further discussion.
The Passion of the Christ is a film of great love, hope, and reverence that moved me to tears in many a moment. While violent and heartbreaking in the depiction of Jesus’s ordeal, the Passion’s message of love, forgiveness, and integrity is truly inspiring and uplifting. While it won’t receive any Oscar notice in 2005, I believe it is one of the most important films I will see all year.
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