My Review of The Passion of The Christ
Well, I saw the movie today (opening night). I didn't read a single review of the film going into it, so I'm speaking purely from my own perspective here.
My first thought upon exiting the theatre was: this movie is an embarrassment -- a bloody, gore-laden embarrassment. The film begins with a very dark, moody scene where Jesus is taken by the Jewish authorities. The rest of the film (2 hours) is all about Christ being beaten, tortured and crucified. Please don't underestimate what I'm saying here... this is the most gory, blood-drenched, gruesome, violent film you will ever see... it's basically 2 hours of ultra-violence. You see Jesus beat up, scourged, flesh ripping off, blood spurting all over the place, bones being broken and dislocated -- all using extreme close-up shots to put it all right in your face. You'll also see a great deal of very dark, satanic-type imagery that could easily be put in a horror movie, including demonic-looking children and rotting donkey corpses.
I'm not exaggerating here at all. If anything I'm probably not telling you enough. This film is heavy on the sadistic gore, but very light on the substance of Christianity. There are only a total of 4-5 flashbacks of scenes like the Sermon on the Mount where the Christ character says something of real meaning. Each of them only lasts for about 30 seconds to a few minutes. The rest of the film is yelling, laughing, drinking, groaning, blood spurting and flesh coming off in chunks.
I'm still not 100% sure what to think about this film. It's obviously a pretty accurate portrayal of his death. About the only good thing I can say is that it is the most "authentic" portrayal of Christ in terms of costume, wardrobe, language etc. If you didn't already know, the film is spoken almost entirely in Aramaic (which sounds very much like Arabic) and some Latin. No abnormally-clean Hollywood faces here... Everything is very dirty and gritty and not Hollywoodized (there are a lot of Hollywood cliches, however). That part is a welcome change, but the problem is that the movie was ALL about Christ's torture, and really nothing about Christ Himself. He hardly says anything in the film and comes across as beeing rather one-dimensional. There were bits and pieces of Christ's teachings (the important stuff) peppered in, but it was so overshadowed by the extreme gore it didn't make much of an impact.
"Satan" also had a starring role in this film, played by an androgynous-looking, bald-headed character who had maggots crawling out if its nose and used deformed children as demons (very horrific-looking). I thought that was pretty cheesy stuff and did nothing but make the film seem more like a fantasy/horror movie than something historic and real.
THIS IS NOT A FAMILY FILM, so I would strongly suggest you keep children below the age of 17 very far away from this movie. It deserved an "NC-17" rating, not "R." The violence is extreme and sometimes pointless. For instance, you remember the convicted thief that mocked Christ as he died on the cross? As Christ is laying there dying and as the man is laughing, a fat, black crow lands on the guy's cross and pecks his eyeballs out (the crow mangles the guy's face as the camera shows multiple, close-up, ripping pecks), his eyeballs explode and blood gushes all over the place. What the heck?? That's not in the text of the Bible... and it's so pointlessly grotesque and ultra-violent it makes me sick.
"The Passion of The Christ" can be likened to a story about a prisoner that was wrongly condemned to the electric chair, and then you only see the guy writhing in pain as the voltage is cranked up... . . . . for 2 hours. It's just such irresponsible filmmaking... I'm very saddened that this film has generated so much interest. I'm saddened that this orgy of blood and violence is going to be associated with Christianity. The teachings of Christ were but an afterthought in this film, drowned in gallons of blood.
It all seems typical of Mel Gibson's other ultra-violent films. It just went way overboard in that department and overlooked the important stuff. If there was more substance to "justify" the hyper-gore, I might have been OK with the film. But there wasn't. I would not recommend this film to anyone, especially non-Christians. I just fear that a lot of Christians will adopt this film simply because "it's about Jesus," and for no other reason.
At times it is a very moving film... to be quite honest I wept during one particularly wrenching scene. But you have to wade through so much other questionable stuff, I was left feeling spiritually empty and very uneasy once the film was finished. I was really dissapointed.
Anyway, that's just my view...
I can't find the ryhme in all my reason
Lost sense of time and all seasons
Feel I've been beaten down
By the words of men who have no ground
Can't sleep beneath the trees of wisdom
When your axe has cut the roots that feed them
Forked tongues in bitter mouths
Can drive a man to bleed from inside out
- "What If", Creed