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‘The Passion of The Christ!’ 2004/04/07

Posted by Dave in Movies, nights out, Reviews.

I was taken along to a free showing of this Mel Gibson film at the Showcase off the M8 Motorway on 31st March; this is not a film I would have chosen to view because I know the story (having read the book), and in my experience, film versions are generally not a patch on the written word.

Let’s address the hype first as this film is causing a fuss; ‘Jews’ are apparently scared that there may be a ‘Christian’ backlash against them (so it is reported).

Now, it is highly unusual for ‘Jews’ to have a formal stance. I have asked around and no-one knows what the ‘Jews’ feel about ‘abortion’, ‘euthanasia’, ‘suicide’, ‘capital punishment’, ‘artificial contraception’ (etc), but everyone has a pretty good idea where ‘Roman Christians’ stand on such issues.

In fact no-one seems to know where the ‘Anglicans’, ‘Baptists’, ‘Calvanists’, ‘Quakers’, ‘Buddhists’, or ‘Moslems’ stand on such matters.

The Pope and the ‘Roman Christians’ have views that are loud and clear… and I have had a problem with such declarations that since they persecuted Galileo and insisted on the Earth being flat. I always admired the ‘Jews’ and ‘Moslems’ (etc) for keeping their mouths shut.

Now, however, the ‘Jews’ are now speaking out — and after centuries they chose to speak out on a Hollywood Motion Picture!

I can hardly believe it myself!

This must be one heck of a film for THAT to happen! However I was disappointed in the film as it made a complete mockery of the hype. Pantheistic Romans actually executed Jesus (and went on to persecute ‘Christians’ for centuries after) only a complete idiot would see that film (or read that book) and come to the conclusion that the ‘Jews’ are/were the ‘baddies’ and should be punished in some way.

It really is preposterous!

(a) Jesus was a ‘Jew’
(b) Given that he blasphemed openly, I can see the rabbis’ viewpoint
(c) times were much cruder, baser, less civilised, crueler and rougher than today
(d) the film opened with Jesus in the Garden suffering because He knows what was coming (i.e. it was all pre-arranged, and predestined)
(e) at the end the Rabbis are shown to repent and
(f) Jesus says ‘Forgive them’ — and indeed His entire message is summed up in His two commandments: ‘New Testament, The Gospel according to Mark’, chapter12, verses 29 to 31: 12:29

  • And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 12:31 And the second is like it, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these’.

— so that ought to be enough to show that the anti-‘Jewish’ lobby is nonsense; it would be anti-‘Christian’.

Strangely, if there’s one thing to create anti-‘Jewish’ feeling it would be this ‘Jewish’ hype! They’ve even managed to annoy me — stupid ‘Jews’!

Now to the film: it was a condensed ‘real time’ with flashbacks, shot in colour and in various foreign and dead languages with subtitles.

The script cannot therefore be criticised without specialist learning.

The acting was generally poor, but then none of the cast are widely known. The editing was poor too — much of the film was too slow, the pacing was erratic and unrewarding, the score was half-hearted, and the direction was amateurish.

I found the lighting uneven and the focussing and composition of scenes careless. The director’s decision to have a female(ish) devil floating about from time to time offered a contrasting light relief and amusement, but failed to be convincing.

The ‘special effects’ were far from what one would have anticipated — the odd snake, weird baby, the spear in Christ’s side gushing unconvincingly, a tear-drop explodes, and so forth — hardly the impressive power of God anywhere! The scourging was also far from convincing — too much laughter for too long by the Romans.

In such an awful film, tiresome and unconvincing, the ‘star’ or ‘best player’ award has to go to the chap playing Pontious Pilate simply because he stood out like a sore thumb (perhaps having acted before somewhere).

The violence was watchable, but tedious and unrealistic. More scares in any slash or horror flick anyday (mild by today’s standards). The film was slow — but sped up at the end (when He rose again) far too much, but was always uninteresting.

If anyone watched this film and found it horrific, then they must simply not be acquainted with the horror and violence around in cinema these days (and that is likely as the audience is predominantly ‘Christian’ church-goers).

If anyone found the film emotional, then they were obviously not brought up ‘Roman Catholic Christian’! The ‘Roman church’ has ‘Stations of the Cross’, ‘Rosary beads’, and myriad tortured and hideous idols, pictures, statues and images — so everything in this film is simply ‘normal’ in daily RC life — but not in those ‘Protestant’ faiths who rejected idolatry years ago.

Clearly the US American Bible Belt were shocked at the revelation and news (from this film) that Christ died a horrible and painful death!

Good Grief — have they never looked at an art book’s ‘pietas’? have they never visited a gallery or museum. The Cross (with Jesus hanging dead from it) is THE SYMBOL – the Logo of the ‘Roman Christian Church’. Perhaps the ‘Protestants’ who removed the ‘Christ’ to leave a simple, plain cross, have forgotten what it is all about!

The point fof the film? I guess it is exactly that — to push the ‘Roman Christian’ angle to the forefront, to replace the sanitised ‘Protestant’ cross with something that reminds one of death and torture suffered for everyone’s sins.

It is funny (to me) that those idol-hating ‘Protestants’ who ransacked the monestaries and Cathedrals over the centuries, who reduced the whole religious experience down to a bare minimalism (having stopped choral polyphony, robes, chalices, statues, paintings, stained glass etc) – are now buying ‘Passion’ merchandise and memorabilia! My God — the Catholics rise again! Saint Mel? (give it 50 years)…

The film is flawed in being a snapshot — it is incomplete in itself, and depends upon what you already know or believe to fill in the gaps… it’s like watching the second part of a trilogy! It explains nothing to non-‘Christians’, (except for the odd flashback) and fails to deliver Christ’s message clearly (again, and inevitably) — and that has always caused the problems throughout history.

The story behind the film is actually quite simple: to fix things from a theological stance, the ‘Old Testament’ predictions (the Jewish part) had to be shown to have been ticked off in the ‘New Testament’ in a precise and methodical way, and that’s what that is all about (God made Man, Triune God, Messiah, etc). None of which is very important or relevant to anyone except Rabbis and theologians… and all of which serve merely as qualifying evidence supporting the main theme.

The theology has become too important and obscures the message — the reason for Jesus’s existence, his lifestyle, his death and the Church. The important thing is very very simple: (a) after Jesus’s death we humans have a clean slate with God — a fresh start, regardless of belief, race, nationality etc — everyone (even the ‘Jews’ and Romans). (b) The WORD — (see above), which is TWO Commandments. That’s it. Easy, Clear and simple as can be.

The theology can be debated, denominations created, translations argued over ad infinitum — all a waste of time. There’s no need to get confused, no need for churches, communion, transubstantiation, priests, bishops, catechisms, Sunday school, baptism, confirmation, sacraments, blah blah blah — all Jesus wanted was to wipe the slate clean and tell us how to keep it clean by loving God, respecting the environment/planet etc and loving everyone as you would love yourself.

So why edit the matter down to a film that misses the – HIS – point? Why show pain and suffering (merely theological devices regarding Him dying for our sins) — it is clearly gratuitous, and a money-spinner!

I suspect the Hollywood media ‘Jews’ are spinning the hype and profiting hugely, and I suspect Mel is tapping the vast ‘Born-Again’ and ‘Pentecostal’ Christian market in the USA, and the even more vast ‘Roman Catholic’ market abroad.

In the USA, the hype is about it being anti-Semitic. In the UK, it’s become another excuse for kicking Christianity. Will Self in the ‘Evening Standard’ and Nigel Andrews in the ‘Financial Times’, to take just two examples from many, used their reviews of the film to have a go at Christians and their beliefs.

It has long been the settled view from the ‘Groucho Club’ and its satrapies that religion, in general, is pretty naff and Christianity, in particular, pretty insidious. Reviewing ‘The Passion’ in the ‘Sunday Times’, Cosmo Landesman at least had the honesty to admit that “when it comes to The Passion, it’s not the anti-Semitism we object to; it’s the Christians and their certainties we can’t stand”

Interesting how our fearless commentariat reserves most of its ire and bile for Christianity rather than, say, Islam, which, as currently practised in many countries, could be seen as far more repressive and illiberal (especially for women).

But fashionable critics have long been free to attack Christianity with impunity. If Gibson’s film had been about Mohammed, you can be pretty sure that our brave secularist critics would have pulled their punches. Attacking Islam, after all, is not just politically incorrect – it risks a fatwa and having to walk everywhere, Rushdie-fashion, with four bodyguards. (A. Neil)

I worry that it could be polarising though (especially post 2001-09-11) — ‘Christians’ and non-‘Christians’ (esp. ‘Moslems’) – like the ‘Crusades’ all over again?

Summary: the film is a bad film in almost all respects, it is creating negativity, is divisive, polarising, creating a ‘them and us’. It serves no good purpose, and indeed fudges the ‘Word of God’.

The ‘Christian Fundamentalists’ are coming, God’s on our Side… Heaven help us!


1. REVIEWS 2004 « davedevine - 2008/12/08

[…] Movie review — the Passion of The Christ: 2004/04/07/the-passion-of-the-christ/ […]

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