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Last Update: August, 29, 2006

The Passion Of Christ, Not for the Squirmish

edited by : ems van goth



This movie adaptation by Mel Gibson, of the last days of Jesus Christ, stirred massive controversy as news got out about the bloody grotesque violence implored in the movie.

Opening at Judas's betrayal of Jesus Christ (James Caviezel, `Frequency') in the garden of Gethsemane, `Passion' details the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus. The film chronicles Jesus's accusation of blasphemy from the Jewish temple leaders, to the trial overseen by a conflicted Pontius Pilate, and His eventual torture and crucifixion at the hands of the Romans, `Passion' goes into great visual detail on how this biblical event came to be, as well as blowing all other Jesus films away with its ruthless eye and Gibson's unwavering belief that, well, more is more.

Most other adaptations of Jesus's life reflects upon Jesus' life as a whole story; chronicleing from birth to death, the audience is allowed to absorb the potency of His sacrifice as well as His horrific suffering. Gibson's `Passion' took away most of the life story, instead it focuses more into the horrific suffering part almost immediately. This movie MIGHT perhaps show a part in the truth, about how one could be treated like a beast during those neanderthallic times of the past.

Whatever historical or biblical inaccuracies are present could easily be forgiven since this is Gibson's take on events, not the bible's. This movie lacks the spiritual punch that Gibson is bending over backwards to sell. There is brief intercutting to the Last Supper, and one of Jesus's sermons to His followers, but the rest of the film is devoted to bloodshed and suffering. `Passion' feels incomplete without seeing more of Jesus at work, and even though the tale has been covered hundreds of times on film, the entire movement of His life is essential if there is to be an emotional jolt at the nailing of Jesus's hands to the cross, the forceful placement of the crown of thorns, or even when Jesus gives Himself over to the proceedings, knowing that He is fulfilling His destiny.

The strongest moments of the film are not even through Jesus's perspective, but those seen through the eyes of Mary, Jesus's mother, intensely played by Maia Morgenstern. The actress portrays her character as a mother who simply wants help her son (a child she once protected from all harm) and not the messiah the crowd believes him to be. Three brief flashbacks are provided to see Jesus and Mary's tender relationship from infant to man, and these are the three best scenes in the film, providing an emotional touchstone to work from, and involving no blood to rile up the senses.

Finally, it's the bloodshed that makes the `Passion' stand out from its competitors. Gibson, has made good on his promise to illustrate every inch of violence inflicted upon Jesus by the hands of the Romans. Gibson doesn't flinch from showing the audience the chunks of flesh ripped from Jesus's body as He's whipped to a bloody pulp, the agony of the nails being driven through His palms, and the defeat of the body and mind as Jesus continually drops to the ground, carrying the wooden cross to His fate. That's not to mention numerous savage beatings along the way, Judas's vivid suicide, the nightmarish imagery of Satan and his influence, and another attempt to infuse reality into this biblical story: by having birds peck out the eyes and bits of scalp from those crucified along with Jesus. `Passion' is R-rated and deservedly so, and anyone thinking of bringing children under, say, 15 years-old to see this film should have child protection services called on them immediately. Not only is the film caked in blood and intensely vicious, but it also has a touch that would make Herschell Gordon Lewis proud: gurgling blood spurt sound effects. Gibson's aim is to stick the audiences' face right into the anguish. That's a bull's-eye hit with alarming precision. But without an emotional hook or narrative spine, `Passion' quickly corrodes into an empty experiment in shock cinema.

Putting an artistic expression of this shape and explicitness is brave of Mel Gibson, and `The Passion of the Christ' is a profoundly felt and memorable film. Rating: WATCH IT / OWN IT. If you dont, you'd miss out on something big.

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