First of all, this film is not for the squeamish nor the uninformed as far as the history that underlies the somewhat oversimplifying "harmonization" approach to this sad part of world history. I ranked this major film of 2004 as a "7" and that's unusually low for me as far as movies that I had so much anticipation and had heard from many who were emotionally satisfied by. It is, however, quite oddly anti-Semitic even as it makes the cultural context so essential, given that the major languages of the time and place (Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin) are what the film dialogue is conveyed in. I have seen over much of my life such "PASSION plays and skits," both good and bad, but I found this one oddly visceral and bloody for special-effect pizazz sake. I just don't understand what's happening with its extended VIA DOLOROSA segments, the good soldier-bad soldier politicking, and special effect-loaded punch as the dead Jesus is taken down from the cross in a thunderstorm by sympathetic Romans who all have sympathy for Mother Mary. The Satanic scenes are slo-mo for bad purposes in my opinion. The macho fight scene in the Garden Gethsemane did work, however; the Malchus (ear-cut off) healing episode was effectively reminiscent of other similar epics like THE_ROBE, BEN-HUR, etc. The diverging sorts of flashbacks and Jesus POV shots felt out-of-place since the film attempts to convey again and again the intense physical suffering and spiritual struggle with an unearthly Satan-figure. What an odd blend of Middle-Eastern music soundtrack and loud, loud looping of dialogue only partly subtitled! I believe this may be better in a DVD format when you can alter some of that distraction from the sometimes quite effective flashbacks. I do wish that the make-up was more consistent as far as making the Jerusalemites more uniformly dark-toned than sometimes all-too Italian. I also found it strange, strange, and hateful that Herod came across as the quintessential fop with a "bad wig" and sissy attributes. Mel Gibson knew about the villainous "fall guys" and resisted assigning much to blame Pilate for [which is historically untenuous]. Again this film is NOT for everyone; only mature 17+ year olds and people who have their emotions under control.
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