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The Passion of the Christ (2004)

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Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.

Director:

Mel Gibson

Writers:

Benedict Fitzgerald (screenplay), Mel Gibson (screenplay)
Popularity
1,372 ( 4)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 29 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Caviezel ... Jesus
Maia Morgenstern ... Mary
Christo Jivkov ... John (as Hristo Jivkov)
Francesco De Vito ... Peter
Monica Bellucci ... Magdalen
Mattia Sbragia ... Caiphas
Toni Bertorelli Toni Bertorelli ... Annas
Luca Lionello ... Judas
Hristo Shopov Hristo Shopov ... Pontius Pilate (as Hristo Naumov Shopov)
Claudia Gerini ... Claudia Procles
Fabio Sartor ... Abenader
Giacinto Ferro Giacinto Ferro ... Joseph of Arimathea
Aleksander Mincer Aleksander Mincer ... Nicodemus (as Olek Mincer)
Sheila Mokhtari Sheila Mokhtari ... Woman in Audience
Lucio Allocca Lucio Allocca ... Old Temple Guard
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Storyline

A depiction of the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem. The story opens in the Garden of Olives where Jesus has gone to pray after the Last Supper. Betrayed by Judas Iscariot, the controversial Jesus--who has performed 'miracles' and has publicly announced that he is 'the Son of God'--is arrested and taken back within the city walls of Jerusalem. There, the leaders of the Pharisees confront him with accusations of blasphemy; subsequently, his trial results with the leaders condemning him to his death. Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, for his sentencing. Pilate listens to the accusations leveled at Jesus by the Pharisees. Realizing that his own decision will cause him to become embroiled in a political conflict, Pilate defers to King Herod in deciding the matter of how to persecute Jesus. However, Herod returns Jesus to Pilate who, in turn, gives the crowd a choice between ... Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

12 Hours That Changed the World See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sequences of graphic violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

Aramaic | Latin | Hebrew

Release Date:

25 February 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Passion of Christ See more »

Filming Locations:

Basilicata, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Icon Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Western Christian Traditions believe that Jesus spoke Greek, and New Testament was written in Greek. Several Christian traditions in the Middle East and South India believe that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and New Testament is written in Aramaic. See more »

Goofs

When Mary goes to clean the blood, as the camera pans over the bloody cobbles, the boom is reflected in the largest pool of blood. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jesus: Peter. You could not watch even one hour with me?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The movie doesn't begin with credits, but only with a verse from the Bible: "He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by His wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53; 700 B.C. See more »

Alternate Versions

In January 2005, Mel Gibson announced that a slightly (5-6 minutes) shorter version would be released to theaters in March 2005 (just in time for Easter), under the title "The Passion Recut". The new version features no new scenes, but trimming of the most graphic scenes, particularly the scourging. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Cinema Snob: The Passion of the Christ (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Azeri
Written by Göksel Baktagir (as Goksel Baktagir) and Yurdal Tokcan
Performed by Göksel Baktagir (as Goksel Baktagir) and Yurdal Tokcan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

As a film it is average at best. As a religious story it is as spiritually and emotionally fulfilling as pornography
2 May 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Ambushed and arrested in the dead of night, Jesus is hauled before a Jewish court where he is found guilty of blasphemy and taken to the Romans for justice. Pontius Pilate presides over the subsequent demands from the Pharisees to have Jesus put to death but, unable to find any reason for such sentence, decides to placate the crowd by having Jesus beaten. However, when this fails to satisfy the demands, Pilate decrees that Jesus should be put to death by crucifixion.

After all the hype, protesting, mudslinging, block-booking and arguing had died down I decided that now was probably a good time for me to go to see this film as an ordinary cinema-goer. I tried to come to it as best I could with an open mind and I settled into it conscious of tales of emotional overload and audiences in tears etc. Sadly I was left incredibly cold by a film that, while I won't call rubbish, is certainly one of the weakest films I have seen this year. For me, the vast majority of the blame for this must lie with Gibson - as with many labour of loves, he seems to have lost his ability to be critical with his own work and thus he has made what he wanted to make regardless of whether it works or not.

The deepest of flaws is the total lack of characters. We all know the story and for those of the audience that believe in Jesus and understand the sacrifice, the emotion of the story is already there before the film even starts - Gibson knows this and he relies almost 100% on this fact. His Jesus is never a person, never a character, I'm sure it will upset people but here he was no more than an object. For the vast majority of the film, Jesus is silent apart from cries coming from behind bloody make up. The flashbacks are bitty and don't manage to really convey an understanding of who Jesus was, how full of love he was and what he'd come to do - no, the focus is the blood, which is fine if you are coming to the film just for that reason. However as a film I expect character - there is no excuse for the film to have not done this even a bit; if I see a biopic of a famous person I'll still expect the film to give that person character rather than just assuming we all know who they are, likewise here - it is lazy and detrimental to just starting beating this person with little or no background.

The issue of characters is also the reason for the anti-Semitic cries. Did Gibson set out to attack Jews in this film? I doubt it. What he did do though, is repeat what he did in Braveheart - create pantomime bad guys. He cannot create villains: like Braveheart, the `hero' is a morally perfect person who is treated with awe and wonder, while the baddies (be they the English or the Jews) are horribly simplified pantomime villains. I found it hard not to laugh during the trial before the Jewish council so hammy and overplayed was it! The only character I felt for was Mary and that was the one time I felt a flashback worked - we see Jesus falling as a child and an adult, both with Mary running to him. That struck it home for me that, regardless of who he was, he was still her son and that she was seeing her son die, not a god. Aside from this I sat cold - unable to see people, only images.

What shocked me most about the violence was just how unmoved I was by it. It was gory and I can appreciate that many will find it difficult to watch without flinching. There are gorier films but I think the mix of the camera's unflinching gaze, the cruelty of it and the audiences' knowledge of the significance of the violence makes it harder to watch. However, the lack of character in Jesus made him a walking special effect - not a real person. I have heard a reading of the medical detail of the crucifixion and found that hard to take - but that was because I knew who the person was in my head; in this film there is nothing to do that for me and I had not come prepared for the fact that Gibson expected me to do a lot of work for him while he merely provided the gore. I was surprised, given Gibson's understanding of the significance of the story, that he didn't trust it to be impacting enough by itself. So on top of the gore we have Satan running round the place with deformed, fiendish children acting as harpies of a sort and other gory additions designed to give the film as dark a tone as it possibly could.

The writing not only fails to make characters, it also fails to make much of an impact. In the gory scenes there is little dialogue, but in the flashback scenes it is also cut back to be almost two sentence summaries of major moments in his life (the sermon on the mount is flashbacked in 30 seconds). The writing of these flashback scenes is all over the place - some of them work but for everyone that works there is one that is so short that you wonder why he bothered. If anyone can explain to me why one of the flashbacks involved Jesus showing Mary how he has just invented tables and chairs (I kid you not) then I'll give you money to me it was a really misjudge attempt at comedy.

Of course, with no characters and no dialogue to speak of, Gibson falls back on that old reliable puller of heartstrings - music. The score sweeps up and down in majestic ways and it is more impacting that anything else, but in a rather cheap and manipulative way. Also, the gore is very realistic and, if you can get past all the flaws above, then it is very likely you will be moved by the sheer visceral nature of the whole thing. I couldn't get past how weak the film was and thus sat cold - even in a horror movie, gore for gore's sake will do nothing for me.

The actors are betrayed by so many of Gibson's decisions. The decision to film in Aramaic etc seemed to mean that the cast were pronouncing their words phonetically rather than acting. This meant a lot of them overcompensate their inability to really put feeling into their lines by overdoing facial expressions etc. Caviezel is lost behind several things. He is lost behind Gibson's fearful reverence for Jesus. He is lost behind having to deliver dialogue without having been given a character and he is lost behind all that makeup. Like other movie Christs, he just puts on a forgiving and loving look and walks like we've seen him do in lots of other films. The rest of the cast all give the same performances based on the group they fall into: all the disciples etc are browbeaten and filled with sorrow, the Roman soldiers are all cruel and laddish, while all the Pharisees are hammy and filled with rage. The only person I felt really gave a performance was Shopov's Pilate - Gibson seemed to have no point to make here and allowed him to play a person. Shopov uses that freedom to paint a realistic man, trapped with a bad decision to make - the only off note is that his character is used to shift all blame to the Jewish council.

Overall I was surprised by just how poor a film this was. If you are already deeply moved by the sacrifice of Jesus then this film will shock you into deeper appreciation of that sacrifice. However `shocking' is not the same as `emotionally impacting' and if you are relying on Gibson to give you any emotional involvement in the story then you will be really let down - he has relied on you to bring that with you to the cinema. For that reason I found the film to be weak as a film. However, even as a telling of this great story, the version is too reliant on gore over character and the fallout from this for me was that I was never hit by the violence because it was not a person it was happening to - Gibson had practically made him an object. This is not to say that some bits weren't difficult to watch, they were, but too much of it lacked any emotional or spiritual input from Gibson; like I say, the film wants that all to come from the audience. For that reason I was left cold by this and can only assume that those who love and adore this film are simply confusing their love and admiration for Jesus himself with their feelings towards this film.


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