Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Passion

I saw the Passion last night (the Mel Gibson movie that is creating such a stir) at a special screening for some church people.

What did I think? I know you're all dying to know. (bad choice of words, really...)

well: cinematographically, it was well done. The story line was relatively accurate, with occasional embellishments for the sake of cinema/art. There were places when the inaccuracies or embellishments were, well, glaring...but only a few. It was bloody--some of the violence (perhaps a large amount) was potentially unnecessary. There's no need to watch every one of 75 lashes while Jesus is being beaten. BUT: the film did a very good job portraying the horror of crucifixion. Did it make it seem like Jesus' crucifixion was out of the ordinary, when that clearly would not have been the case (we know the Romans crucified thousands)? maybe a little...for example the two bandits crucified with Jesus were not beaten at all, while jesus was literally a bloody pulp by the time they put him on the cross. No wonder the man died in just a few hours. Did the film make the Jews out to be "Christ-killers"? Not any more than the Bible does. The Romans looked worse, actually--they were laughing while beating jesus and the crowds. At least the high priests looked disturbed at the beating scenes. Were the languages a hundred percent accurate? probably not--there were times when the jews were speaking latin and the romans aramaic, and times when they would switch mid-conversation. (probably no one who hasn't studied one or both languages would notice.) women? there were beautiful scenes of Jesus' mother, and of Mary Magdalen...and there were GREAT flashbacks to other gospel scenes. There was good perspective taking--the perspective of the disciples, of the women, of Jesus.

All in all, a good film. hard to watch. hard to recover from. hard to talk about. don't go if you have a weak stomach. don't go if blood makes you pass out. don't go if you want to continue to live in a happy land where crucifixion isn't a form of torture. don't go if you can't comprehend that in order for there to be Christianity at all there had to be the death of Jesus.

but, don't not go because you don't think you can take the challenge of leaving your safe little happy-clappy faith world. And don't not go because you don't like subtitles. To both of those objections i say: get over it. And: don't talk about the film being anti-semitic, too violent, bad, unfaithful to the biblical narrative, dumb, or too Roman-Catholic-preoccupied-with-suffering, UNLESS YOU GO TO SEE IT. Please don't talk about it in an uninformed manner. that's irritating.

so, the final verdict: go see it if you have time. If you want to be an informed person and be able to carry on a conversation with pretty much anyone for the next several weeks, see it. if you are willing to have some challenges, maybe a nightmare, and to have a new perspective on something protestantism has tended to gloss over, go. take some kleenex. get water, not coke. and be ready for an important and relatively fast moving two hours (exactly).


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