Sunday, April 04, 2004
The Passion of the Christ: How To Make Tocino
This was the film I've been most eager to see for the last few months. It was supposed to be "life-changing," an "unforgettable experience," "faith renewing." And I was curious about all the furor it has created in the US. The charges of anti-semitism was a bit exaggerated. And all the raves about this film was exaggerated too.
I left the movie house, not with a renewed faith, but a renewed disgust. First, did we really need to see all that gore? After the initial flagellation, I think the point was made loud and clear. But Mel Gibson had to make his point again and again and again. If his strategy was to bring his audience to the breaking point right along with the torture happening on the screen, well he did that. The audience is made to sit through relentless torture and made to experience vicarious pain to the point of numbness. And it is numbing after an hour or so.
Actually, after the flagellation I thought, that has to be the worst part. But noooo. It gets worse. By the time Jesus is hauled off...I couldn't wait for the film to finish. Each agonizing moment is prolooonged by dramatic slow-mo. The film is overlong, probably because of this. If the film makers' point was to chasten us viewers of our sins and how much Jesus loved us and sacrificed so much for us, well, I think they missed the mark. What this film does is to make people ever more cynical of other people. After all this time, nothing has really changed. And Christ really died for nothing. I don't really need to recount the specifics of how so many have suffered in the name of Christianity. The 2 thousand year-old Christian history is testament to that.
Anyway, If you want to see the movie because you want to experience a religious awakening, you'll be disappointed. Its a movie. And no, you won't be entertained. You'll be disturbed and you'll walk out the theater arguing with whoever it is you came to watch it with.
The moral of the gory story:
1. Jesus must've been an incredibly dangerous element if all that fanfare was necessary to get rid of him. It was almost like a show. To warn off other potential dissidents (other followers of JC) from making any more claims that Jesus was indeed King of the Jews. There were political undertones shown in the movie. Something we weren't taught in our Catholic schools. Ok, so other than a cult-leader, JC may have also been a potential revolutionary. Claiming he was King of all Jewish people definitely scared off the high priests. He was disturbing the social order and status quo. Maybe the Roman Governor even recognized the potential for a revolt against the Roman imperial occupation should Jesus continue gaining mass-following.
In that scene where the governor and Jesus spoke, the governor addressed JC in aramaic and JC responded in latin. Then they continued to converse in latin. I wonder...if indeed that was true, and JC did learn latin...what for? Makes you wonder huh? *conspiracy theories*
2. Roman soldiers must be inhuman. Actually, any kind of soldier, at any time in history, must be made inhuman. I suppose its necessary. One wonders if those Romans suffered from any kind of psychological disorder after. Like Vietnam and Gulf War veterans.
3. Jews are fucked. Yep, other than bearing the infamous guilt of having Christ killed, they now bear the guilt of being the reason why Palestinians are oppressed and killed. Actually, we could say they bear the guilt of being the main reason why the Middle East remains conflict-ridden for the last 40 years.
4. Men make all the mess and women clean up after.
5. Single moms rock. Does anyone know what in the heck happened to Joseph?
6. Satan is freaky. Damn that man/woman was scary as hell (pun intended). So is Judas by the way. Yikes...the monster..the rotting cow...the devil-children....Yikes!
7. Takes an incredibly long time for a person to die. Also, how much blood do humans have exactly? 10 liters? More?
The film had some good points. The acting was superb. At a $25 million budget, one wonders how much these actors got paid. Probably not the usual going rate. Maia Morgenstern, who played Mary, was incredible. Oh, And I thought the redeeming moment from all the guts and gore was the scene where Mary comes to the aid of her son. I cried in that scene.
Whoever thought of making JC's eyes that shade was a genius. And casting Caviezel made all the difference. Now I can't imagine any other hollywood actor that could fit the role. The single drop of rain at the very end was cool too. Is it in the bible though, that there was an earthquake? I can't seem to remember.
All in all I would recommend seeing the film, if only to get people thinking. No, you wont enjoy it and most likely it will disturb your Christian sensibilities. Nope, don't make the mistake of letting kids see it. They will have nightmares.