Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.
Gibson, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay, went to great lengths to make sure his film was Biblically accurate and it shows. Jesus (played brilliantly by James Caviezel, `Frequency') looks Jewish, instead of the blond-haired, blue-eyed man usually seen in the role. Every line spoken is in Aramaic or Latin (with English subtitles). Every prop used, from whips and swords to clothing and wigs, looks stunningly authentic. What emerges is the most realistic depiction of Christ's suffering ever put on screen.
Most films about Jesus begin at His birth, give a kind of Cliff's Notes glance-over of His life, and make crucifixion seem slightly unpleasant - not `Passion.' The film is entirely about the journey to that specific event and shows it's possibly the most horrific method used to kill someone. `Passion' begins as Jesus agonizes in the Garden of Gethsemane, so troubled by His upcoming duty that His sweat turns to blood.
As He prays, He fights a spiritual battle. He knows He must die and, despite leading a sinless life, take on the sins of mankind so they can be saved. He has been abandoned by His followers. He is constantly tempted by Satan, who tells Jesus that one man can't possibly die for everyone's sins. After setting aside His own will and seeking His Father's, Jesus is betrayed by Judas Iscariot (one of His disciples) and handed over to Jewish authorities and eventually the Roman government.
What follows is an unflinching look at the way Christ was killed. His beatings, scourging and eventual crucifixion at the hands of Roman soldiers is shown in graphic detail. Where other films would cut away, `Passion' zooms in - every punch, every piece of flesh ripped away, every drop of blood, every thorn in His crown and every nail driven into His body is vividly captured on camera.
The film is slightly over two hours long, starts with Christ's arrest in the Garden and ends with His resurrection (covered in about 12 seconds). Everything between is His brutal suffering and it is relentless. There are several brief flashbacks to earlier times in Christ's life to provide a short relief from the violence, but none long enough for the audience to forget what they are watching.
The controversy that has surrounded `Passion' in recent months (consisting mostly of claims that it's anti-Semitic) is unfortunate. Yes, some Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus. But so are some Romans and, most importantly, so are the rest of us. Everyone, whether literally or symbolically, placed Jesus Christ on that cross to die. The film in no way implies that the Jewish nation as a whole is to blame for killing Him.
As a Christian, this film is a wake-up call. I've always known that Jesus suffered and died for me. I even know the physical things that happen during a scourging and crucifixion. Seeing the process right in front of you, however, is a completely different matter. I have never cried as hard as I did during `The Passion of the Christ.' As I watched Jesus being beaten, spit upon, whipped to near-death and ultimately nailed to a piece of wood, all I could keep thinking, over and over again, was `He did that for me. He did that for all of us.'
C.S. Lewis once said that Jesus could only be one of three things: Lord (as He said He was), a liar or a lunatic. Before viewing `The Passion of the Christ,' and strongly reinforced afterward, there is only one option for me. Whether Christian or non-Christian, I strongly urge you to see this film.
- Feb 26, 2004