Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Friday, 10 September 2010

The Passion of the Christ


In the months leading to its release Mel Gibson's second film as director, about the last 24 hours in the life of Christ, caused great controvesy - was it anti-Semitic? Pro-Catholic? Unnecessarily violent? The debates rage on, but one thing can't be denied, and that is that it is one of, if not, the most successful independent films in history, grossing over $610 million at the worldwide box office, getting vast amounts of attention from the press, and giving the green light for Hollywood to make more and more biblical/mythical epics.

As for the content...
The depiction of Jesus (James Caviezel) being whipped within an inch of his life by the Romans is gut-wrenchingly bloody and graphic - Jesus is whipped so much that by the end his blood is sprayed a good two metres in every direction and his ribcage can be seen - and also very upsetting (which is the point). The Crucifixion is horrible to watch, and, as a Christian, I would see it as a sick joke if it wasn't, and it is shown in the film as the utterly barbaric form of execution it was - if you've read the Bible's description and have any imagination then you'll already have a very vivid and nasty idea - and it really leaves a lump in your throat watching it, although I don't approve of how Jesus's right arm is pulled out its socket so it can be stretched to the right point of the cross, because, as a Christian, I believe none of his bones were broken as the Bible puts great emphasis on that. As for whether Jews are portrayed in a bad light, it is highly unlikely that most viewers will be turned into raging anti-Semites by the end, though some viewers who are already anti-Semitic could twist some scenes of the torture and disgusting treatment Jesus recieves to reinforce their beliefs.

Ultimately The Passion of the Christ should be viewed as one man's testament to his faith. Agree or disagree with Gibson's depiction of the Last Supper, Jesus's condemnation, or even the Crucifixion itself, it can't be denied the film's mise-en-scene is beautifully created with lots of care and attention, and that the cast all play their roles to an excellent standard (especially Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene), and that the film is often very moving, and even tear-inducing. Granted, some scenes don't work so well - such as a flashback of Jesus showing his mother (Maia Morgenstern) a tall table and chairs he made, which she thinks will never catch on seems more fitting with Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) - but there are many other scenes that are very powerful - especially one when Jesus's heart-broken mother watches him stumble while dragging the cross, and flashbackes to her helping him up after he falls as a child. Whether you believe in Gibson's version or not that moment will hit hard to anyone who has ever felt helpless in their love for another person. And maybe we should consider whether that was Gibson's true intention - not to cause controvesy, but to depict his own beliefs (as both a Christian and a parent), to make us think about the second most important event not only in the Bible, but in the history of existence and creation altogether, and to touch our hearts.

Aramaic, Latin, Hebrew.
Stars: James Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Hristo Shopov, Monica Bellucci, Chokri Ben Zagden, Mattia Sbragia, Hristo Jivkov, Francesco DeVito, Luca Lionello, Claudia Gerini, Pietro 'Pedro' Sarubbi, Sergio Rubini, Francesco Cabras, Toni Bertorelli, Roberto Bestazoni, Giovanni Capalbo, Luca De Dominicus, Jarreth Merz, Fabio Sartor, Sabrina Impacciatore, Matt Patresi Emilio De Marchi, Roberto Visconti, Lello Guilivo, Abel Jafry.

Oscar nominations: Best Cinematography (Caleb Deschanel), Best Makeup (Keith VanderLaan, Christien Tinsley), Best Original Score (John Debney).

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