The Passion of the Christ The Passion of the Christ

Copyrighted Material -CLICK for information


The Passion of the Christ

I wasn’t ready to add movie recommendations just yet, but I was one of the thousands who had a chance to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ the night before its official opening and I feel I have to speak.

First, I was not looking forward to seeing it. I was actually a bit nervous because, 1) I don’t tend to enjoy gory movies (although there are exceptions) and, 2) I was afraid that if it was well done I would be a sobbing mess.

I did enjoy it. A lot. And I was a sobbing mess. A lot.

If I had to select a film that had the most consistently outstanding acting, from the main stars to the smallest faces in the crowd, TPOTC is it. All of the technical details are first rate, from photography to costumes to music, but it’s the acting that’s a knock-out. And it’s being acted in a foreign language by actors who don’t speak those dead languages, Latin and Aramaic. Mel Gibson must get full stripes for so expertly directing his cast. Superb.

I can’t review the movie without reviewing the reviews as they’re such an interesting subset of the film. Most of TPOTC’s critics’ comments are along the lines of:

1) Andy Rooney’s hateful vindictive (he won’t even see the movie, but has a negative, nasty opinion about it and Christians just the same).

2) Critics who say that while “they” wouldn’t find the film anti-Semitic, or divisive, or manipulative, they could easily see how the great un-washed masses would and therefore see TPOTC as “dangerous” and they are “troubled” by the “very grave possibility” of hatred this movie “may” cause. I don’t think these critics would be much fun on a camping trip.

3) Critics who say this is just Gibson’s current addiction and is really just a gory fairy tale.

4) Critics who say it's just Gibson’s cynical way of making money from those backward hicks who live in President Bush’s red states.

First, the movie is more than just a movie. Truly. I would never have known to pray for Andy Rooney. But now I do. Rooney is as I was, arrogant in his own ignorance (I should trademark that). But God loves Rooney as much as he loved me when I was lost and I pray and know that if Rooney allows himself to find the truth, he will find it. God’s truth will rock his world. And Mr. Rooney, I’m not the only one now praying for you – wouldn’t have happened without this film and your reaction to it.

Then there are the professional critics. Is the movie anti-Semitic? No. You won’t find a Christian anywhere who will find it so (and most, but not all, Jews seem to be weighing in with the same verdict). So will its release cause pogroms? As one TPOTC consultant pointed out: the movie has been seen by thousands of people from rough cuts to previews for months before the opening week. Where’s the anti-semitism? There has been none. For those who already hate Jews, how could this film make someone who wants all Jews dead feel any more hateful? They’re already dug deep into the magma of immorality.

Is TPOTC just a gory fairy tale? I can’t convince you in a movie review that the Bible speaks absolute truth and that God is real, really loves you (and me!), and sent his son Jesus to be crucified (a horrendous, bloody method of killing) for the sins of all the world. Just know this: if you want to find out if the Bible is true, you can. It’s that simple. I used to sound (and think) just like the Andy Rooneys of this world when I yammered on about all of that “mythical Bible stuff” and how I was so much smarter than that and so open minded, just the opposite of those silly, dumb believers (turns out I got that completely backward).

As for the “gore,” oh my, YES this is a gory movie. And true. Christ’s suffering was foretold very descriptively centuries before it took place. I point you to Psalm 22 (which even describes the crucifixion at a time when such punishment did not exist) and Isaiah 53. Two different authors, hundreds of years apart, prophesizing that “At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6) and described just what that death would be like and what that death was for.

But critics who poo-poo the Bible’s “accuracy” aren’t even accurate themselves. One professional, big newspaper critic talked about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of “Gold.” Sigh.

Why would Gibson risk 25 million of his own green to make big bucks? No major distributor would touch his movie. They felt no one wanted to see a movie about the son of man being nailed to a tree for the world’s sins (unless the hot actress of the moment could be worked in to play the prostitute- with- a- heart- of- gold love interest). Filming Christ’s excruciating last hours was no slam-dunk money maker. Want sure-fire box-office? Then try another Lethal Weapon or “What Women Want 2.” As for us Red State hicks? I saw this in a movie theatre right here in one of the bluest of states, California. Theatre packed. Audience moved. ’Nuff said.

One young lady being interviewed on opening day said, “I’m not going to go see it. What makes Gibson a theologian? I’m going to go and see Miracle (about the American hockey team trouncing the Soviets in 1980).” Just the way my mind works, but I’m wondering why she’d see any film at all. I doubt any of Miracle’s makers knew Hockey inside and out before the film began, therefore, they wouldn’t be qualified to make a sports movie. But yes, Gibson sounds like he did his homework, that he is, in fact, a theologian. That young lady could become one, too. So could you. Just study the Bible (start by reading it through just once and it will change your life). Study the history of the time. The archeology. The geography. The culture. It’s really just like studying anything else.

Is it Biblically accurate? Yes (but don’t take my word for it, again, read the book!). There are extra-Biblical elements, but I found none of them unbelievable. There’s really no way for Satan to know for sure why Jesus was ready to sacrifice himself, but I don’t think it’s a stretch that he figured it out for himself and was ready to thwart it if only he could. We don’t really know from the Bible that Pilate knew he’d loose his job (and worse) if he couldn’t keep the Jews from causing another round of trouble for Rome, but we do know it historically, so the film showing his worries over Jesus is believable. We know Judas had his demons of remorse after getting his rabbi arrested, but Gibson’s literal portrayal of this was creative and satisfying (Note: Judas’ greatest sin was not in betraying Jesus; it was in not repenting of that sin).

A friend my wife and I saw The Passion with said the brutality Christ suffered, as shown on screen, strengthened his faith. That was certainly something Gibson wanted to inspire. For me, I think it would have been a masterpiece even without such detailed gore. But then, I feel The Wild Bunch would have also been a good movie without the Karo-syrup carnage. If you’ve got a good story and good people telling it, you really can’t miss. For Gibson, he did a fabulous job telling the greatest story ever told.