Written by Benedict Fitzgerald and Mel Gibson
Directed by Mel Gibson
Running Time: 2:06
for sequences of graphic violence.
I am not Christian, nor am I a religious person at all, but I have a deep respect for those who are, and the story of the last 12 hours of Christ, and his resurrection, moved me unlike any other story I've seen on film. I can not speak as to whether what was shown was exactly as written in the New Testament, but people more knowledgeable than me said that it was pretty close to what they understood the story to be. The Passion of the Christ was an amazing piece of filmmaking and I never took my eyes off the screen.
The movie follows the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ as he is persecuted for his beliefs and his teachings. The brutality shown towards him was so horrible that it brought tears to my eyes. The biggest controversy over this film was whether or not it was anti-Semetic. From my perspective, the torture and subsequent killing of Christ wasn't done by the Jews for religious reasons, but because the religious leaders thought that their power was being usurped and they would do anything to make sure they didn't lose that power. I can't speak for everyone, since as I said, I'm not Christian, nor am I Jewish, but even after watching what happened, I didn't blame the entire Jewish religion for Christ's death; I blamed a select group of people who couldn't stand to see someone allow people to have a different point of view. And from a technical point of view, it was the Romans that tortured and crucified Christ, albeit egged on by the Jewish leaders and the mob that formed around them. If that is how it truly happened, then I can not see the movie as anti-Semetic but only a retelling of the truth, no matter how barbaric it may have been. But again, I did not see it as a condemnation of an entire religion; only as the will of a few people who did not understand the true calling of the Son of God.
From a filmmaking standpoint, the movie was breathtaking in its vision. The colors, the sets, the costumes; all were amazing in scope and beautiful to see. There was an overuse of slow motion which brought you back to the realization this was a Hollywood film, but otherwise everything was fantastic. Another concern over the film was that it was overly violent. As I said earlier, the scene of Christ being beaten in the courtyard was so horrific that it made me cringe, but at the same time, I think it was necessary to show the harsh reality of how he was beaten mercilessly and yet never gave in. A lesser man would have given up and died on the spot, or at the very least, say what his captors wanted to hear. But Christ was on a mission from his Father, and until his Father called him home, he knew he had to endure for the sake of his people.
James Caviezel was heartbreaking playing the most iconic role in history. He had few words, but the pain and suffering could be seen in his eyes, and in his body language. Yet, he was able to capture the spirit of Christ and never fall, no matter how hard he was beaten. I think it was realizing the magnitude of who the story was about that made this movie so emotional for me. There have been movies made about icons before, but to tell the story of a man who is the foundation for a religion that boasts over one billion members worldwide is a daunting task. As I said before, and will say again, I am not religious, but I have always been fascinated with religion and the deep beliefs people have. Faith is not something that comes easy, but after watching just this small snippet of his life, I can understand why people have such faith in Christ. Here was a man who as he was dying, thought not of himself, but of his persecutors, begging God to forgive them, for they did not know what they were doing.
There were some elements I wish I had seen during the movie. For the un-religious inclined, I would have like to have known more of the story of Christ, and how he ended up where he was. Some of his past was shown in flashback, but nothing that allowed me to really see into his life. And since they used the flashback idea, I would have liked to have heard more of his teachings. He didn't speak much and what was said was little beyond loving your enemy, and believing in Him. It was almost as if we saw a paint by numbers version of his teachings so that it was more accessible to regular people. Personally, I would have liked to have heard more, but I also understand the movie could have been six hours and it still wouldn't have been nearly enough to tell the story of his life.
It's hard to write a review for this movie since I don't know the truth upon which it is based. I can only speak to what I saw, and what I saw was a triumph in filmmaking that in my mind did a terrific job of telling a horrific, yet, moving story. I was mesmerized from the opening sequence in the woods, until the resurrection at the end (almost as if Hollywood wrote the ending... always leave it open for a sequel). I think people everywhere should see the movie to gain a better understanding of why so many people have such strong beliefs in this man. For me, the movie accomplished one thing beyond telling me a story; it made me want to learn more about the life, death, and rebirth of Jesus Christ.