February 23, 2004

The Passion of the Christ – Movie Review

An Endless Blood Fest In The Name of God
By Fred H. Arm
There is little positive I can say about this orgy of cruelty that ostensibly is an accurate chronicle of the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life. (I would apologize however, if I offend any Catholics readers.) It was reminiscent of a film I saw many, many years ago called “The Fixer”. It too was unrelenting in the suffering of the principal character. Hour after hour of sadistical, cruel, and excruciating punishment is depicted and inflicted upon the hapless Jesus and those of us forced to see it.

The story is an ancient one that of Jesus captured by the high Priests of Jerusalem and brought before Pontius Pilot, the Roman Governor to be punished for his evangelical activities and beliefs. The Governor preferred to release him, however, the priests and the angry mob demanded death for his supposed sacrilegious ministry. Pilot finally compromised and ordered Jesus flogged by sadistic Roman guards, first with canes then with cat o' nine tails tipped with nails. This incessant flogging continued until there was not a part of Jesus’ body that was not covered with bloody wounds and oozing sores. Of course we had to sit through every gory minute of it.

Nearly dead from that ordeal, he was dragged up again in front of the Jewish High Priests and Pontius Pilot. Pilot wanted to let him go, but the priests wanted him crucified. Politician that Pilot was, and wishing to avoid a riot, he complied, ordering Jesus to be crucified on the cross. We were then treated to further intermittent beatings, a crown of thorns hammered into his head, and his never-ending dragging the cross across town. During his cross dragging, he was being subjected to further beatings, insults, kicking, and spitting. We endured this endless trauma until finally he arrived at the execution site where further torture and humiliation awaited him.

While being nailed to the cross, every bodily torment was graphically shown in detail again and again. It seemed to be an endless chain of torture, mutilation, and cruelty. It was such a relief for him to finally die, both for the viewer and no doubt for Jesus, if in fact that was really how it all happened. There are many versions of these last hours, some written hundreds of years after his death. I do not trust the accuracy of the local newspaper after a couple of weeks let alone after two thousand years.

Is this picture anti-Semitic as alleged by many critics? I would say not anti-Semitic in the classical sense; however, the Jews were cast as the real heavies instead of the Roman Governor. Not only did the Jewish High Priests scream for his death, but the throngs of Jewish citizens also clamored for his death. We will never know whether this version is true or just some abstraction of facts selectively chosen by Mel Gibson to satisfy the bigoted belief system of his “Old Catholic” upbringing.

Many years ago, this saga was presented in a movie called “the Robe” with Richard Burton. Although essentially the same story, it was much more inspiring and religiously uplifting. “The Passion of the Christ” left a horrible taste in my mouth for a long time afterwards. It no doubt will be remembered forever, albeit a depressing experience. I would say ninety percent of the graphic violence should have hit the cutting room floor. The way it is now, it should all be trashed.

Posted by fredarm at February 23, 2004 05:23 PM

I am not planning on spending an evening watching Jesus (or anyone else for that matter) being tortured any time soon. I can't think why people feel the need to put themselves through it. Do they think they need to appreciate Jesus more? Why not just try living the way he suggested?

Posted by: Claudia at March 4, 2004 04:38 PM

Let me guess Fred. You expect to have a lived happilly forever ending than rather a real one. The movie left a "horrible taste in my mouth" too, but i liked it for that essential reason. It really put things into perspective, and that was the whole point of the movie, rather than have Jesus carrying the cross with everybody jumping and singing along.

Posted by: Pete at February 29, 2004 04:51 PM

My gosh, Fred.....Must have been exhausting and depressing to watch all that. Thank you for your graphic representation of the Movie. It will definitely be a MISS for me.

Posted by: Arline at February 25, 2004 06:29 PM
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