Random Thoughts

The Passion

February 27, 2004 7:59 PM – I saw “The Passion of the Christ” earlier this week, and since it has been such a controversial film, I figured I would give my own feedback. If you have not seen the film, and don’t want me to spoil the ending, stop reading. Just kidding, but actually this movie is ripe with jokes like that. I went with a friend and when the lady we sat next to was eating a pretzel, he asked “You’d think they would have made the pretzels in the shape of a cross.” Other good jokes with this movie are:

“I don’t really plan on seeing it, I read the book.”
“Based on a true story” or “Based on the best-selling novel”
“Do you think they’ll have any combo deals at the concession stand, with a collectible cross shaped popcorn bucket? And the cup of God’s wrath comes with unlimited free refills.”

and, of course,

“I wonder if anyone will dress up as their favorite character?”

Now since I am a believer and follower of Jesus, I went to this movie both excited and terrified. I was excited to see a realistic portrayal of the crucifixion, and one in a very popular venue, however, I was also terrified to have to remember or learn what exactly happened. I was afraid of being unprepared for the brutality I was going to witness. After seeing it, I realized that nothing could have possibly prepared me.

The violence in the movie was both shocking and horrific, to the point that during the whipping scene, I very much felt sick, but not just physically, emotionally as well. I was so jarred by the graphic portrayal I was witnessing, that I not only had to cover my eyes at various times (which is a first for me), but I also became very emotionally unattached and was just simply horrified. I don’t know if this was a good or bad thing. I had never witnessed brutality against one human being so graphically before, and my horror caused me to not get into the movie emotionally, but rather forced me to relive those violent images again and again. I have already replayed the whipping scene in my mind far more than 40 – 1. The movie forced me to forget everything else for the rest of night, and most of the next day. I did not relive the moments of joy or love, but rather the moments of sheer horror. The moments of redemption and love were not nearly enough to counter the images of brutality in my mind.

So did I think it was a good movie? I don’t know. Was it accurate? Absolutely, in fact, it may have even been a little tamer than the reality. Did it accurately portray Jesus? It was very accurate, for the last 12 hours, however, the movie touches very little on the rest of Jesus’ ministry, and I felt it needed more. Jesus chose to die, and his mission on Earth was to die, however, his messages of love and equality were such that his death was even more unjust than was depicted. This was not made very clear.

Did the Jews kill Jesus? No, technically the Romans tortured him and hammered him to the cross. However, it was for everyone’s sin that he died. Did the Pharisees, who were Jewish, demand his death? Yes. Did the film depict the Pharisees as demanding his death, and the crowd of Jews subsequently doing the same? Yes. Is the film anti-semitic? The question is completely irrelevant. Whether or not the Jewish people in Israel 2,000 years ago demanded Jesus to be crucified, should never be applied as an understanding of Jewish people today. That mentality may have been a harbinger for the hate that led to the holocaust, but I just don’t see how the portrayal of the pharisees hate toward Jesus, which is based on fact, in the movie could ever be construed to match modern day prejudices. Maybe some people will use this film as a stepping stone for their own anti-semitism, but racist people will find any excuse to back up there hate, and Mel Gibson should not be blamed for ignorant people. His film is honest and based in fact, and is meant to tell the story of a group of people a long time ago, and does not portray anti-semitic feelings of any relevance for people today.

The mixed reviews of this movie are just incredible, and even I have quite a mixed review. Did I approve of the graphic use of violence? It made me uncomfortable and emotionally disconnected, however, I am speaking from a position of privelage, and I have never witnessed anything in reality even a tenth as horrific as the events on the screen. I have been raised seeing the sanitized Jesus that you wear around your neck. Ask a persecuted person in Iraq, Kosovo, Rwanda, or modern day Israel, and I don’t know if the violence would bother them as much, because they may have witnessed war, torture, and unbridled hate first hand. Either way, the major problem I think most people have with violent images is that they are so hard to forget, and these are images I should never forget, and should have never forgotten in the first place.

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