I Just Got Home From The Passion
And boy was I disappointed. Because of the way I view this film, I’m going break the following review into two parts:
Let’s start as far from where it matters as possible, with the movie itself. The cinematography is excellent. The framing, cuts, and camera movements accentuate the violence or lack there of nearly perfectly. I’m almost definite Mel Gibson picked an excellent crew and I certainly can’t fault them there. The acting on the part of everyone was good, though I do think many of the characters were far too one dimensional (read evil), especially those committing acts of violence to Jesus. I especially think Mary and Judas outshone every other actor (though I could’ve sworn the head priest was being played by Jean Reno, which would’ve made him tops).
I guess, given the feeling of depression and disgust I felt coming out of the movie, that entertaining is the wrong way to describe it, but it really was an entertaining film. I was riveted, and although I was unable to empathize with Jesus in any way, shape, or form, I found that it was a gripping film. I wouldn’t call it moving, but I’ll talk more about that in the next section. I do feel the writing was sub-par. I felt it came off as trite and pandering the way it avoided realism. True, it was in Hebrew, Latin and Aramaic (though I didn’t recognize any Aramaic), so that may have made it tough, and I thought the translation efforts were excellent, but there was just something weak about the dialog. There weren’t subtitles for everything, and it’s the little things that really make a film. I’m not about to run off and study more dead languages just to understand this movie, so I guess I’m just going to stick with a “they fucked up” rating with the subtitling.
Lastly, this movie was far too long. I felt terrible yawning, rolling my eyes, and shifting in my seat (to keep my ass awake), but I had to to focus on the film. As a movie, I would give The Passion a 7/10.
I was really disappointed with The Passion. It just didn’t live up to its hype. For weeks, I’ve been reading about how moving, stirring, and antisemitic this movie is. Well, the hype lies. Firstly, while there are antisemitic themes, they’re no more present than in the bible, so I don’t see a problem. Certainly, an antisemitic group could use it to further its goals, but it’s not antisemitic. That’s such a load of crap that it is.
Secondly, it’s Hollywood. That’s the worst possible thing that could’ve happened to a story about Jesus. Everything is so polished, clean, and produced that I can’t look at it as anything but a Hollywood production. I don’t want Jesus to be Hollywood. There are so many good messages in the bible that to turn them into a money making enterprise based on blood and gore, brushing over what’s really important and dwelling on something that appear so real just makes me doubt the truth of any of it. I’m probably the only person to come out of that movie with more doubt about the reality of Jesus than I went in with. This movie causes me to question the veracity of the entire biblical tradition. Even more of a risk is the fact that The Passion is NOT BIBLICAL IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM! The entire film is based on a performance written in the middle ages to incite faith and antisemitism in constituents. I’ve never actually seen one of those performances, but I do know how much needed to be embellished from the biblical texts in order to get the story to fit like that. I’m not going to try and reference inconsistencies, because that’s missing the point of the film, but they’re there. This film made me even further mistrust religion.
Of course, that’s only one side to it. The other side is that the film did leave me questioning, which I think is a good thing. The best possible thing you can do is question your beliefs. I don’t like the idea of people rallying around this as an accurate portrayal of what happened. I don’t like the idea that people will find themselves in church more and praying more because of the reality of the blood and the gore. I don’t like the fact that this film supports a white version of Jesus. But for every person who becomes a fanatic, or who finds blind faith and falls into the flock without any forethought, or who can’t see Jesus as anything but white, I expect there to be 3 people who come out and want to talk about Jesus, his message, and god. Religion, for as much as I hate it, can be a wonderful thing. As long as this movie inspires people to discuss it, that’s what’s truly important.