Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ; Drama, USA/ Italy, 2004; D: Mel Gibson, S: Jim Caviezel, Monica Belucci, Maia Morgenstern, Hristo Shopov

Jerusalem, 1st Century AD. Judas betrays Jesus who is arrested by Roman soldiers. A Rabbi council sentences him because he founded a sect, a different religion than Judaism. The Roman soldiers take him away to the judge Pontius Pilate who sentences him to crucifixion, while the criminal Barabbas is freed from all charges. After being tortured, whipped and mistreated for hours, Jesus dies on the cross.

Mel Gibson, allegedly a very religious person, made "The Passion of the Christ" as a low budget film shot in Aramaic language, which is why the sweeping box office success around the World was a real surprise for such a hybrid work. "Passion" is an unusual film, but everyone should see it just to shape their own opinion about it. Still, there are a lot of flaws where Gibson didn't show his skills from his previous directorial achievement, "Braveheart". Firstly, the much talked about violence isn't often, but its still exaggerated to the point of splatter-grotesque (Jesus' body, after being injured for hours, is completely cowered by wounds, bruises, red lines and blood) and shaped in a black and white perspective (the Roman soldiers who torture Jesus are presented as blatant caricatures of evil since they, as in those comic-books, laugh when they torture). Secondly, the story that follows only the last day of Jesus' life, from his arrest to his crucifixion, is thin and could have been shot in 30 minutes, but since its running time is 120 minutes it is terribly overstretched and monotone, which is why some can get the impression that half of the scenes was filmed in slow motion. Thirdly, all characters are one-dimensional. Only here and there can one sense the inspiring touch (a perspective through the rain drop that falls near the cross). That's why the equally controversial "The Last Temptation of Christ" is much better because there the authors turned the Bible dogmas upside down and yet still remained faithful to its spirit.


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