I'll get this out of the way right now. There were scenes from this movie that I simply could not watch. I flinched during several scenes. I am one of those moviegoers that doesn't flinch for anything. I didn't really feel a connection to William Wallace when he was disemboweled, but I could not watch Jesus Christ being whipped and tortured like that. The most horrifying moment in the entire film is not the money show of the nails being driven through Jesus' palms, or even the dislocating of his shoulder while he's on the cross. No, the most horrifying moment in "The Passion of the Christ" occurs while Jesus is being scourged with a kind of mace/whip/claw weapon. The weapon lodges in his side, and the Roman soldier savagely rips open his side. I was this close to screaming at that moment. I think that the difference between this film and a film like "Braveheart", which is equally gory, is that the audience feels closer to Jesus than they do to someone like Wallace or Maximus. Many in the audience will no doubt have grown up hearing the story of Jesus every Sunday at Mass. I doubt any of them have EVER thought that the suffering of Jesus is anything like that which is depicted in Mel Gibson's masterpiece.
I also don't think that many people thought Pilate would be cast in such a sympathetic light. After Jesus is beaten and whipped to a bloody pulp and is brought before the high priests again, I found myself wishing that they would just let him go. The film is not Anti-semitic, and I felt that the only possible instance of this is when Caiphas calls for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate's eyes go wide, and his expression basically states "Are you out of your mind, you f*cking barbarian?". This too was a powerful scene for me. Abenader is also played masterfully by Fabio Sartor. The audience is given a breath of fresh air through Pilate and Abenader. Here you have two Romans that, amid all the violence and brutality forced upon Jesus, have taken pity on him and do not really wish to see him dead. I mean, you see footsoldiers getting drunk, beating the crap out of a man who has committed no crime, whacking a crown of thorns into his skull, and then you have Abenader, who rescues Jesus twice during the film. This leads me to another point. It was Jews who killed Jesus. Not all Jewish people. But the leaders that swayed the crowd, that pressured Pilate, were Jewish. Remember, I am not an Anti-Semite. However, Jesus was no threat to the Romans. King Herod did not deem him a threat. ("Prove to me that I'm no fool. Walk across my swimming pool!") If the Jewish leaders had not threatened Pilate with a revolt, or even brought Jesus before him in the first place, do you think the Romans would have gone to the garden and arrested him? No.
There are those who will say that the violence is needless. That Gibson went to far. My response is this: It is a crucifixtion. The Romans were well-known for their ability to inflict ENORMOUS amounts of pain of their victims while still keeping them alive. Yes, the film is violent, but I think it needs to be to get its point across. Take, for example, "Jesus of Nazareth". Jesus is almost completely clean throughout the entire crucifixtion scene. It looses a lot of its impact if it is to P.C. or watered down to be taken seriously. I didn't think there was any part of the movie that seemed watered down. This had a profound impact on me as a person, and I pose this question to you: Are we really all that different now than 2000 years ago? Are we really so civilized that we are above pain and suffering like Jesus felt? Are we?
10 out of 10.
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