The Passion of The Christ—Film Review
The multi-layering of this film's style and cultural impact, is simply a natural reflection of central character, the most intriguing, unique and landmark individual in human history.
In addition to breaking all-time 5-Day Opening Weekend Record and being highest grossing R-rated film of all-time, there are other interesting aspects: Jim Caviezel's initials are JC, was 33 years old during the Passion, and was struck by lightning during filming. Also, the last name of actress who plays Mary is Morgenstern, which translates to "Morning Star"—a biblical name for Christ. (More coincidences?)
Mel Gibson: "There have been a lot of unusual things happening, good things like people being healed of diseases, a couple of people have had sight and hearing restored, another guy was struck by lightning while we were filming the crucifixion scene and he just got up and walked away."
The film's acting, flashbacks, cinematography, audio and overall production are top shelf (esp. given the budget), but the presentation has flaws:
- In reality, Jesus wasn't that good-looking. Surprised? See Isa 53:2.
- Some of the details aren't accurate. e.g., every major passion portrayal since the 70s has Jesus carrying only a crossbeam (not both beams), being nailed through his wrists (not hands, thought this is debated), crucified naked etc. And Pilate was apparently much nastier in real life. It also associates Mary Magdalene with the adulterous woman (which could be, but that's not in the Bible). Further, some of direct scripture lines are quoted in misplaced scenes.
- The Satan character is portrayed effectively, as is Mary (though she's given an overbalance of screen time for being mentioned only once in all four gospels.)
- Editing and pacing are good except on the road to Calvary, where it loses steam.
- The resurrection is too underplayed. I don't have a problem with it being brief or implied, but this one just doesn't engage enough. Peter T. Chattaway (Christianity Today) writes "watching The Passion is like experiencing a woman's labor pains, but never witnessing the joy that makes the pain worth it all."
- In the early church, the crucifixion, ressurrection and Pentecost were all celebrated as one unit; so you could say that the Passion of the Christ is merely Act One of a trilogy.
Actually, in the interests of accuracy, the movie isn't violent enough since the Bible says Jesus "was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness." Isa 52:14.
For the most part, I didn't get the sense that there was a spirit of violence. That is, we are never made to be entertained by it, or agree with it, or that its inclusion isn't integral, or that Gibson was trying to baptize cruelty. Though there were times where I thought it could've been dialed down and become more effective (e.g., remove the Judas donkey scene, the crow on the thief, etc.). Gibson was obviously targeting to over-run the viewer's buffers. And in this he succeeded in imparting that crucifixion is not an intellectual, buit visceral. The deepest essence of love is experiential.
Remember the surprise of meeting someone nice after you've heard bad things about them? Revealing the real person is key to understanding this movie.
Who is This?
One of the most exciting aspects about this movie is that it poses questions that our culture is not currently asking: Who is this person? What is the meaning of this? Can I experience more of God than I already am? From that perspective, if it did nothing more, The Passion would still be tremendously significant. For asking the right question gets us halfway to the right answer. It helps us face the person.
Receive My love for you. Let it soak into you, and be absorbed in who I am. My light of love shines like no earthly love and is unlike what most deem love. It is not so much to be understood as it is to be experienced.
My love is not based on worth for all your worth is in Me, so it is a complete love, one that originates in the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit. It is this bond of powerful love that you are caught up in. My power is in My love, a source so great nothing or no one can withstand it. Once touched, you can never go backwards for My love is pure, it draws, it heals, and cleanses. It is what all need to find their way in this broken world. To reject it is to be disembodied and wander, lost in an empty void.
I have pledged covenant love from My heart, where the truth of who I am to you comes forth. Receive it—all of it.