The Passion of the Christ

Perhaps the most controversial film of our time “The Passion of the Christ” has arrived amidst much speculation and controversy. Not since “The Last Temptation of Christ” has a film garnered so much controversy and that film did not have a mega-star like Mel Gibson attached to it nor a wide-release reported to reach 2500 screens in the U.S. alone.

The film shows the final hours of Jesus leading to his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. The film opens with Jesus (Jim Caviezel), and some of his Disciples in the garden as Jesus contemplates what is to come and prays that this burden be passed from him if it is Gods will. Jesus is visibly afraid and is unsure of what to do, as he knows Judas has betrayed him and that troops are on the way to arrest him.

Jesus is soon arrested and is beaten and taken before the Jewish elders to be accused of heresy for teaching beliefs which contradict the locale doctrine and for encouraging others to follow his teachings.

Jesus is soon taken before the Roman consul who decides to punish not execute Jesus, as he does not believe his crimes are worthy of death. Politics soon envelope the situation as the Romans fear an uprising if the wishes of the council are not followed forcing Jesus to be ordered for crucifixion.

While I am not one to give away vital parts to a films story, I take it that the majority of readers will know at least this much of the story. The emphasis on the film is on what Jesus had to endure during the final hours of his life and the untold suffering and brutality that were put upon him for his beliefs.

Much has been made of the films intense and graphic violence and I am not going to sugar coat this. The film is very intense and very violent and on more than once occasion caused me to start tearing as the film is very emotional and it is hard to watch a person suffer especially one who many believe devoted his life for the betterment of all of us regardless of faith. I have always been one that believes that all people are entitled to their beliefs and that no group has the right to say that there way is the only way and that others are wrong for not following them.

In many ways, the film drives this point home as Jesus prays for the forgiveness of those who are killing him even though they do not share his faith. The man who was killed as a threat to the society and doctrines of the community never wavered in his love for his fellow man and retained his compassion to the very end.

Gibson is to be commended for making a powerful and emotional film that can be enjoyed by people of all faiths. The film is a visual masterpiece that is highly detailed and is the most accurate depiction of the final hours of Christ ever committed to film. The use of Latin and Aramaic in combination with subtitles underscores attention to detail that Gibson put into his labor of love and as such, he deserves praise for crafting this film regardless of your opinion on the films content. This is a bold and passionate film that attempts to tell the story in the way that it happened as accurately as possible. While some of the scenes may be very difficult to watch, you will not soon forget the images and will have a hard time not being emotionally moved by the work. This is not a film that blames any group for the death of Jesus; it is simply an account as to how and why it happened. The film also serves as a message that we should all embrace and tolerate the differences in our neighbors as when we do not, atrocities can happen. As a student of history, I found myself pondering during the film in regards to what would happen if a figure arrived today that encouraged others to follow a new path and not those of the traditional religions. If said person were to become widely know and develop a large following what would happen? Would they be called a cult and prosecuted, would they be ridiculed, or would they be killed? This troubled me as I think that despite nearly 2000 years of progress there are those who would resort to violence. Such is the case of the film. The majority did not want to see Jesus killed; it was a strong and vocal minority of the population who wanted to protect their interests. The film is not anti-Semitic and does not blame any group for the death of Jesus and emphasizes that his death was in order to absolve sin and blame.

The film makes you think and in this day of disposable films, it is nice to see that despite the controversy and lack of commercial nature of the film, Gibson put his heart into the production and created one of the best films of the decade. Gibson is a master storyteller and shows that he is a gifted director and producer and should be praised for his craft.

5 stars out of 5