The Passion of the Christ (DVD, 2004, Widescreen) Reviews
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The Passion of the Christ (DVD, 2004, Widescreen)

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The Passion of The Christ: Mel Gibson's Cross to Bear, his Reason to Live

Feb 25, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Love, hate, ignorance, despair, agony, betrayal, temptation, guilt, truth.

Cons:Just ask Jesus.

The Bottom Line: The Passion of the Christ is the best movie I'll never see again.


So, let's talk about The Passion of the Christ, shall we?

A lot of movies out there lately have been based on true stories. Now whether or not this is a true story, it's quite beyond my power to say. But after watching it, part of me sure hopes it isn't.

Mel Gibson just hasn't been himself these last several years. He's been so far as the borderline of suicide even. According to some sources (of which obviously none are completely reliable), The Passion was a sort of "cleansing" experience for Mel. He has put all his chips forward, and there's no telling when or if we'll ever see or hear from the man again, even if he does "win", so to speak.

Insensitive as this might sound, The Passion is a gorgeous thing to behold. We spend the first several minutes shrouded by fog, with only the blues and blacks of the woods, and a few faces. It's not long before Jesus of Nazareth (James Caviezel) is taken away to his eventual execution. It takes a while for his persecutors to find someone who will actually do it, because of the obscure nature of the accusations made against Jesus. But either way, he seems to take a heck of a beating no matter where he goes.

For the most part, to go any further with the "plot" is pointless. Either you know the story, or you don't. Or you're like me and you know parts of it. But if you're looking for dead-on accuracy, don't ask me 'cause all I'm gonna tell you is that the stuff that matters is correct. It'll keep your attention, rest assured of that. Only a few small things diverge from what I was taught. "Take this in remembrance of me" becomes "Take this in memory of me". "It is finished" becomes "It is accomplished". Nothing to have a cow over.

I tell you no lie -- herein lies the most brutal and graphic depiction of torture that I have ever seen in my life. Some of it happens offscreen, but it lasts such a long time that it would be impossible not to show some of it. There is just no way to imagine the kind of unfathomable pain that Jesus went under in this story. It's been two hours and I haven't found the strength to speak. I just don't even want to speak to anyone right now.

The acting is mostly subtle, and all the lines are spoken in Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew tongues. So yeah, you'll be reading subtitles. James Caviezel always impressed me before, so I knew he would have no problem here, and he doesn't. A lot of people still don't know who he is, so they'll have even less trouble than what little bit I did forgetting who it really was behind the beard.

Rosalinda Celentano makes a sporadic but very unsettling appearance as Satan. This ain't someone in a red suit with a pointy tail, folks. But you'll know who it is when you see it. (Think snakes.)

Maia Morgenstern probably had the hardest role of all to pull off, as Mary, Jesus' mother. There's no telling what that must feel like to stand there and watch your own flesh and blood get flogged like raw meat. Her role veers into wooden at times, but Lord knows the character demands it.

Emilio De Marchi steps out of the foreign scene to play a Roman who basically "leads" the tirade against Jesus. Monica Bellucci and Claudia Gerini play Magdalen and Claudia (respectively). And then how can we forget Luca Lionello playing that scumbag Judas.

Just don't make the mistake of thinking that because this is a "religious" movie that you won't be able to relate to it. The familiar themes of truth, betrayal, and despair (just to mention a few) are as integral here as they are in the similarly character-driven LOTR trilogy. Lines such as "If you won't hear the truth, then no one can tell it to you." are very quotable.

I would recommend that if you do see The Passion of the Christ, take someone with you, or do it at a time when you know you'll have some time to yourself afterward. This is one of those movies that makes you forget where you are, that makes the sky look like it's closing in. And it won't leave your mind quickly, if at all.

One more thing -- you know what happens three days after the crucifixion, right? Well, that's in the movie. I was really hoping for that. This would also be a good time, before I forget, to mention that John Debney did a spectacular job on the music. The music manages to enhance key moments without driving the whole thing.

Mel Gibson has definitely proven one thing -- he's got a brave heart.

... Welcome to the epilogue ...
This would be the perfect time to boast my own brand of religious propaganda on everyone, but that's just another temptation that we'd all be better off avoiding.

Let's just put it this way -- I've seen some really beautiful things. Some of them pertained to Jesus and to Christianity and to kindness and to all sorts of different behavioral encouragement. Likewise I've seen some really beautiful portrayals of anger and hate, released in a far more suitable and expressive and logical way than flying a plane into a building full of people. We are blessed with a whole assortment of feelings -- I encourage you to explore them, not to deny them.

Everyday, attempts are made to "convert" people to one belief system or another. I believe that when people attempt to convert others, their intentions are honorable. They do it because they honestly believe in their hearts that it is better for the other person. A lot of people seemingly can't be trusted to know what's best for them. There are more lost souls out there than ever before. Someone is listening to someone else all the time. I don't endorse some of the "invading" ways that some groups go about "promoting" themselves. But my advice would be to try not to be angry. Every belief system is beautiful in its own way. Even if you don't accept them, nothing has ever been lost by listening.

Heaven and Hell are nice, easy, black-and-white terms, but somehow I just don't think it's that simple. Hell may be a dungeon of blazing fires, but what's there to be scared of if we don't feel physical pain after our death? I think Heaven and Hell are merely metaphors for our feelings about ourselves. Possibly, Hell might be the emptiness left after a life of no feeling. After you die, all you are left with is what you have done. Death is merely having to face your choices, and they will determine whether or not the Afterlife is a punishment (or just an extremely boring place). But it's not as simple as going to the good place or going to the bad place. Either we are all going to the same place, or there is an awful lot of "in-between" territory. One last thought -- if Saddam Hussein were on Satan's side, and he went to Hell, why would Satan want to punish him?

One more last thought -- "Judge not, lest ye be judged" is a judgmental statement in itself. Maybe it comes from the Bible, but if people continue to keep using the Bible as the basis for their judgment then that's not helping anyone. We don't need the Bible to tell us what's right and wrong; we have the same souls that they did 2,000 years ago when they "figured it all out". Anyway, I've already overstayed my welcome on this, so I'll letcha go for now.

Please be kind to each other, y'all. You only live once.

"He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is Love" I John 4:8


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