Quick Critique: The Passion of the Christ
Watched The Passion of the Christ for the first time tonight. I’ve always felt I should see it, as a good little atheist, but I didn’t want to pay for it and never got around to ordering it from the library.
Ten years out, there’s not much (if anything) I can say about the hugely controversial movie that hasn’t already been said:
Yes, it is bloody. Really extraordinarily so. Like, the bloodiest movie you can think of, the one you would never show a kid? (Robocop, of course, comes trippingly to mind. And now I really want to watch Robocop.) Yeah, Passion is way bloodier.
So, as if we didn’t know, Mel Gibson wants to make sure we get it: being beaten and scourged and crucified would suck. A lot.
It’s really gross. And I have a pretty strong stomach, so that’s saying a lot.
Gibson also proves himself a fan of slo-mo. As in, the guard will sloooowly rear back, and sloooowly whack Jesus with a stick, and the blood droplets will sloooowly fly away from Jesus’ back. It’s all filmed very lovingly.
Meanwhile, the Evil Jews sloooowly watch the whole thing, while Androgynous Satan sloooowly wanders around amongst the Jews. Just so we get how evil they all are.
So yes, the movie is just as anti-Semitic as you’ve heard.
It’s also quite homophobic. I’ve mentioned in the past that the Left Behind series surprised me by being even more anti-Catholic than anti-atheist. And Passion surprised me in a similar way—I mean, I had heard about the anti-Semitism and expected it. I hadn’t heard about homophobia, but…well, if you are inclined to watch this movie, pay attention to the Herod scene (it’s hard not to do so). You’ll see what I mean.
I suppose one cannot expect much surprise from such a well-known story, but I just could not connect with the characters (the one exception being Judas, for the few minutes he was onscreen). The reaction I had was visceral, not emotional. As in, yes, it is awful that this guy is going through all that pain. But it would be awful for anyone. I felt just as bad for the two thieves (we didn’t see them actually being staked, but they were). I winced several times—the weird whip-with-barbs thing would catch on Jesus’ back, I would wince. They staked his hand, I winced. But (I don’t know how else to put this, though I know I’ll sound like a jerk), I didn’t care. That is, I didn’t care about the character Jesus, being unjustly tormented. I cared because holy crap, ouch, I can hardly believe that anyone could do this to another person.
It takes forever for Jesus to get out of the city. Which I guess it would, but this is the part where I really started to get bored. Jesus walks…and walks…and people are generally jerks…and some dickweed kicks Jesus, and Jesus sloooowly goes ass over teakettle. Why this in slow motion, Mel Gibson? Like it wasn’t enough that the poor dude’s back was ripped to shreds, now some dickweed makes him trip?
Anyway, as we all know, some random from the crowd is dragooned to help carry the cross. Initially reluctant (who wouldn’t be?), he ends up doing it in pretty good humor, all things considered.
I kid, but the guy has one of the few emotionally-resonant lines in the whole movie. As they get out of the city gates, he helps Jesus up (again) and says, “we’re almost there.” It’s pretty sweet, actually. Like, I’m not sure this can be seen as good news (c wut I did thar), but at least he’s trying to be comforting. He’s a nice guy.
The actual staking to the cross was a bit anti-climatic after the beating Jesus got, although, as I mentioned above, the first stake through the hand was a wince-inducer.
Oh, and one other bit stood out—although most of the gore effects were good to excellent, the spear-in-Jesus’-side one was laughably bad. As in, I actually laughed.
I also laughed out loud when God’s tear caused an earthquake.
As if there was doubt, I am totally going to Hell.
A few other observations:
We only really see three of the disciples: Judas, Peter, and James. I liked the actor who played Peter. He portrayed Peter much as I’ve always seen him—as a big, whiny, self-important baby.
Judas was pretty cool, too. I wish the whole movie was about him. I also thought he was kinda cute.
Speaking of which, James is an absolute hottie. Unfortunately, he seems, at most, mildly put out by the whole situation.
Mary Magdalene was gorgeous. I can see why Jesus was into her.
The one vaguely interesting bit was the aside about the origin of the Shroud of Turin (fake though it is).
Anyway, just a quick pre-Easter mini-critique, as I just saw this on TV, and thus have no means to watch it slowly and multiple times, the way I usually do. Have you guys seen Passion? What did you think?