The Passion of the Christ (2004)

i6kXMnzI believe that the intention of Mel Gibson and this entire production was noble. The idea, that of bringing the relevance of Christ’s sacrifice to the forefront, is something that a lot of people love and identify with. I am an atheist myself, but I believe in many of the philosophies Christ espoused, and I pattern a lot of my life on his tactics and thought. I believe in honesty, truth, martyrdom for good causes, beauty, and most of all, I search for a God with all of my heart and want to find some kind of supernatural existence for us all through writing. That’s the intent of these creators, I am assured. Unfortunately, the best laid plans.

This movie was compared quite often to Fahrenheit 9/11, because both were released at about the same time and were surprise hits. I much prefer Fahrenheit, simply because it presents its opinion as such and lets us decide. This film shows us images which are designed to inspire guilt, it has lightly anti-Semitic leanings, and to be honest, it’s really, REALLY overdone in terms of its graphic qualities. We see Jesus beaten. And then we see Jesus beaten. And then we see Jesus beaten. And then we see Jesus beaten. This is, literally, an hour and a half of a man being whaled on before he dies in horrible agony, with little characterization, slight cohesion, and a few alterations to scripture that are odd. I’m a student of theology.

I’ve read and seen many different interpretations of the Jesus myth. This has to be the most blatant piece of propagandized Jesus exploitation that I have ever seen. Mel Gibson made HOW much on this? It would be different, to me, if the message were about how much Jesus’ philosophies can be used to make the world a better place. Or even just a chronicle of Jesus. But the story, very pointedly, is an expose of his suffering. And growing up Catholic, I’ve seen so many people guilted out of normal lives through abject guilt brought on by a religion that I am infuriated to see Mel Gibson capitalizing on what, if it had been made with any other character, would have been relegated to X and called a “Snuff” film. But just on a basic level, it fails as a film.

You’re either totally caught up in your preconceived opinions, or you’re looking at it as a story. Imagine a story where you’re introduced to a man, he banters a bit with his friends, and then you see him being beaten to death for an hour and a half. It’s like Das Boot. The sub goes down, the sub goes up, the movie moves along, but why are you watching? Personally, I think the emphasis of Christianity shouldn’t be on Christ’s sufferings, but on his doings, and this movie is one prolonged exploitation of the kind of Christianity I despise. People who have to go to movies with their friends to show them they believe in God, people who have no faith without fear and guilt.

That this movie was so popular speaks to the sad state of this nation right now. Particularly when Michael Moore is labeled a “nut” and treated like a dick for having an opinion, while Mel Gibson is treated like a revolutionary for making tens of millions of dollars exploiting the Christ, indeed, for torturing him onscreen repeatedly. In every arena, context, subtext, and just plain enjoyability, this movie sucks. And it’s not because I’m an atheist. I love Jesus of Nazareth and Bible movies. This movie just plain tried too hard and used too many horrible devices. You have to see it, because it’s one of those movies you have to see, but when you do see it, you’ll know what I mean, unless you’re totally brainwashed.