The Passion of the Christ is everything and nothing that I thought it would be. It’s arresting and powerful, disturbing and emotional. It’s a far from flawless film, but a stunning one still. Yet it’s almost as if the hype almost entirely clouded my vision; I truly wish I could’ve entered into the experience ignorant of what I was getting into. It seems like there has been such an emphasis on the weeping and mourning audiences that anything less feels like a disappointment, which it shouldn’t. Will you be moved? Yes. Will you be unable to move, paralyzed by sobs racking your whole body? Possibly, but probably not. And this isn’t a bad thing. If you do not immediately run out and prosleytize, that is not a bad thing. If you do not spend hours in fervent prayer afterwards, that’s not a bad thing. In all sincerity I can report that the Word of God still stands as the most powerful testament to those 12 hours, not this movie.
A couple quick notes… it’s truly awfully violent. I’d seen pictures for months and months of a horrendously bloodied and torn Jesus, but you almost become accustomed to such images almost as soon as the movie begins. The first shot you see of Jesus has him sweaty, bloody, dirty and wholly undesirable – and rightly so. Thus it’s not the sight of this mound of flesh that in the end gets to you, it’s the flashes of amazing violence that periodically puncture the film and produce audible gasps from the audience. I’m not a movie buff but I’ve seen some wretched stuff from the likes of Tarantino and Fincher but I’ll admit the violence here was surprisingly hard to watch. Without being overly critical, there were definitely things I would’ve done differently. The walk to Calvary is agonizingly slow, it seems to make up the bulk of the movie – there are only so many times I can watch Christ fall, the crowd go crazy, and Christ get back to up to plod on… only to fall again. It’s realistic, but drawn out unnecessarily. Pilate’s wife Claudia plays a larger role than I expected, Mary has the exact prominence I expected but I welcomed her role while wondered at Claudia’s. The acting overall is phenomenal of course, the soldiers get a surprisingly number of close-ups and are really, really portrayed well. The Apostle John has a few stiff moments, the Apostle Peter is consistently good throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed the flashbacks – there’s even some comedic moments believe it or not. It was also nice to see “lesser characters” come to life – Malchus and Simon primary among them. The portrayal of Pilate and Herod was also intriguing and, I thought, very well done. Lastly, when Mel Gibson says the Resurrection takes up “seconds,” he means it. Literally – so that was a tad disappointing but understandable within Gibson’s larger artistic vision. So…those are my random thoughts for now. Of course you should go see it, but I knew you all would anyways. Hopefully I’ll get to see it again soon, but I’m in no hurry.