This movie strikes me as one of the most successful attempts ever at coming up with plausible answers for some of the nagging questions that have cropped up in recent scholarship concerning the "Passion" (suffering and death of Christ) accounts in the New Testament. (What motivated Judas if money was not the issue? What could bring the Sanhedrin to meet on a high holy day? Why did Pilate waffle?) It is a movie for the serious, thinking Christian: fans of "The Passion of the Christ" will no doubt be disappointed by the lack of gory spectacle and arch characterization. As for myself, I find the portrait painted here--of the willingness of ordinary people to so blithely sacrifice common decency when their own self-interest is at stake--far more realistic and deeply unsettling. (The disinterested, "just doing my job" look on the face of the man who drives the first nail in Christ's wrist is as chilling as any moment in film.) The film makes no claim to "authenticity", but the settings and costuming invariably feel more "right" than many more highly acclaimed efforts. It is a slow film but, if you accept its self-imposed limits (it is, after all, "The Death"--not the Life--"of Christ"), ultimately a very rewarding one.
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