Recently I have had the opportunity to view Mel Gibson's blockbuster THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. As many have asked me what I thought of the film, I would like to share a few of my thoughts.
SUFFERING: The film certainly lives up to its title. "Passion" originally meant suffering, and the spotlight remains fixed on the sufferings of Jesus, from Gethsemane to the Cross. Yes, the film is graphic. Many were emotionally stunned. In the cinema where I saw the film, no one dared munch his popcorn. When the movie ended, an eerie silence dominated the theater. Never have I seen the sufferings of Christ portrayed so powerfully.
ACCURACY: Is the movie completely "accurate"? I was impressed by how many details were in fact covered with accuracy and sensitivity. Of the hundreds of possible scenes, of course not all were depicted. Perhaps some important parts were left out, and perhaps artistic license went too far now and again. Everyone will have his or her own opinion about that. Yet overall I would give this film a very high rating.
LANUGAGE: As someone very fond of linguistics and languages, I found the Aramaic and Latin an interesting flourish, which, along with the flashbacks, provided a buffer, a cushion of relief against the incessant intensity of the storyline. Interestingly, Latin was not the dominant language of the Roman Empire--which spoke Greek, except for parts of Italy and North Africa. Aramaic of course was the primary language of the Jews in Syria (the name of the Roman province), although in Galilee, where most of the apostles came from, Greek was also widely spoken.
ANTISEMITIC?: In my admittedly subjective view, this is not an antisemitic production. Had Jesus come to India, doubtless we would hear from some detractors that the film was "anti-Hindu." More to the point, Jesus was anti-establishment, insofar as the establishment resisted God's word and will for mankind. " He came to his own, but his own did not receive him" (John 1). Finally, it could be added that Jesus is clearly depicted as a Jew. The film exalts Christ it does not reproach him for being Jewish.
CHRIST: For me, the character of Christ was admirably acted. Gibson (and Caviezel) managed to avoid the extremes. On the one hand, this Jesus was not the hippy-like, effeminate, and soft-spoken Messiah of so many Jesus movies. On the other hand, neither was he the somber man of few words also frequently encountered in the Jesus films. Jesus in Gibson's rendering was driven and intense, but amiable and playful. He was spiritual, yet also relatable. The portrayals of his mother were especially moving.
GOOD & EVIL: Jesus Christ loved family, friends, and enemies. He was perfectly good. Evil likewise was depicted in its true nature: Satan and (her!) demons were horrific and chillingly malevolent. I like movies where the good guys stand out clearly from the bad guys!
IN CONCLUSION...: Everyone responds differently to this movie, just as everyone responds differently to the gospel message. That is natural. Your reactions may not resonate with mine. Feel free to email me your own reactions if you like.
Whatever our opinions about the movie, massive turn-outs for the screening of this film worldwide surely testify to the spiritual hunger and moral confusion of people everywhere (Amos 8:11-12). People are searching, and as always, everywhere, and in every generation, the fields are ripe. My prayer would be that through THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST Christ would draw people to himself (John 12:32).