Saturday, April 11, 2009

#75 The Passion of the Christ


Christian culture loves this movie. It is the only R-rated movie they heartily endorse.

The Passion of the Christ received support and endorsement from Billy Graham, James Dobson, Mission America Coalition, Salvation Army, Promise Keepers, National Association of Evangelicals, Campus Crusade, Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Rick Warren, Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Max Lucado, Young Life, Tim LaHaye, Chuck Colson, Lee Strobel, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Mothers of Preschoolers, aka MOPS. (The idea that preschoolers may have watched this movie should make anyone in their right mind want to hurl.)

Roger Ebert gave it 4 out of 4 stars, and said "The movie is 126 minutes long, and I would guess that at least 100 of those minutes, maybe more, are concerned specifically and graphically with the details of the torture and death of Jesus. This is the most violent film I have ever seen."

The film opens with Jesus being tempted in Gethsemane before his arrest. With the focus placed on Jesus's torture and death over a 3 day period and virtually no depiction of his 33 year-long sinless insurgent upheaval, we have to wonder if this is basically a snuff film.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

When this first came out, my aunt asked if I was going to see it, and I told her no, I'd heard the book was better than the movie. I don't think she got it.

shelly said...

Snerk! :D

My church screened this a little over a year ago. It didn't do a bloody thing for me (pun not intended). I mean, I get the whole "passion play" and the "stations of the cross" concept; but...seriously.

And yeah; there's the whole irony that Christians in general will stop their kids from watching movies with violence, or playing violent video games; yet, they don't have a problem with showing them this because "the events actually happened". Sounds like a bit of a double standard, to me.

Georgius said...

My mother just asked me about this movie earlier today, I told her it was basically a snuff film, and to watch "Jesus of Nazareth" instead.

nakedpastor said...

I told a friend who was going to see it that he dies at the end and he got angry. snuff film... hehe!!!! but if you want to see a film with graphic depiction of what a crucifixion of a criminal may have been like... well... sure.

faithlessinfatima said...

Did it win the Most Beaten Deity Award?

Carla said...

I am confused by people who say they loved this movie. I thought it was well done and gave some visuals to what happened to Jesus in the Bible. Its not a movie that I would see again. I am concerned that MOPS endorsed it, this isn't a movie that kids should see, regardless of the subject. For the people who commented ealier, I wouldn't hate on this movie. Yeah, I read the book too but that doesn't mean you can't get something from this movie. Watching it doesn't mean your mindless or following the trend. Sometimes we can go too far in trying to stand out from the typical christian. This is a great site though. Keep up the good work.

Still Breathing said...

I have not seen the film so am not in the best place to comment. However I don't need a film to know how much Jesus suffered - I can work that out from the book. What I will say is that a film of a book rarely has the same balance. I read The Exorcist and though it was a great book about the spiritual battle with the powers of evil that control this world; I didn't hear anyone say that about the film. Watch the film if you must but it will be like reading the last chapter of a book as you won't know the spiritual and political reasons why the powers of that time wanted to kill Jesus.

Mark (under construction) said...

How come here in Austrailia they always show this on TV over Easter?

Cabernet Leather said...

Mark, surely you can hazard a guess... the whole death/resurrection of Jesus thing perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree with Carla below. Your site in general is one gasp of fresh air after another, but this post is little more than a knee-jerk against the knee-jerks.

stephy said...

I was just posing a question here, not calling it anything. If you'd sign your name to you post it would be great because it would mean you want to be engaged despite the repurcussions of relationship.

Mark (under construction) said...

I reckon the best Easter type film is - NO!! - not "The Robe" - is - JESUS, THE MINI-SERIES, guaranteed to attract the oldest demographic since the Weather Channel went on the air.

Laura Toepfer said...

OK, I'm only commenting for the word verification which is "shrobe," as in "Robe, shrobe!"

Does the Passion of the Christ stop with his death or have the resurrection as well?

rugger341 said...

That was an interesting point you made regarding the lack of attention paid to Christ's ministry. Similarly I was dismayed by the ratio of attention placed on Christ death, to that of his resurrection. But I guess this was a "passion" play er film in the catholic sense.

My biggest problem with the whole thing was the possibility that it might become a "graven image." I'd be interested as to whether you think this is legalistic or not, maybe I'll do a blog on that topic this week.

stephy said...

That's a really good point - about how the Passion focuses on his death, and if it could become a graven image. I think the question of legalism is really loaded and gets trickier when we actually use the word legalism because of what that word means to different people. Anything can become a graven image, which is kinda scary. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I know the second coming hasn't happened yet but shouldn't people also be thinking about the third and fourth?

faithlessinfatima said...

Anonymous...as in "early bird gets the worm."

Simone said...

I've not seen the film and nor do I want to. And not that as an atheist I my eyes will burn if I look. In fact, I love Biblical films and The Ten Commandments is one of my all time favourite movies.

Knowing the nature of The Passion, that it is 100 minutes of Jesus being tortured, what is the point supposed to be? To rub it in our faces just how much Jesus suffered for our sins? I'm sorry but seriously, if I am Jesus knowing just a few more beatings and lashings and I'm going back to HEAVEN, as horrendous as it must have been, there is the best light EVER at the end of the tunnel. I don't think focusing on the brutality does a lot to prove any great sacrifice if that indeed was the point.

Ann said...

Oh my goodness, the picture made this entry 100% awesome.

Carla said...

simone i can see your point but as an athiest you can't understand. As much as you think you know, you don't. i say with this will all due respect. the relationship that a chirstian has with jesus can't be described unless you experience it. i did think this movie was well done but i won't watch it again because i don't think its the type of movie to just watch, because of the content. to suggest that the suffering that jesus went through was somehow lessened because he knew he'd be in heaven just doesn't make sense. jesus was a real person with real feelings. when i've broken a bone it doesn't hurt less because i know someday that its going to be healed. i think this movie did a great job of showing us the human side of jesus that we all, including me, forget at times. it showed that he had a mother who loved him, siblings who loved him, an earthly father who loved him. it showed that even though he knew his purpose, he still would have liked the cup to pass him. was it a little over the top, probably. but it got its point across to those who needed it to. all christians don't have to like or even see it but don't make it sound like those of you who didn't are any better off because you chose not to. all i'm sayin.

Steve said...

Never saw it, never wanted to see it, don't want to see it. My dad, in his 80s, got all worked up about this. It was heavily influenced by some older, ultra-conservative Catholic spiritualities that went to town with all of Jesus' sufferings, as if those were the only things that mattered about his life. If there's anything good from this film, I suppose it would be showing how horrific violence is; if it moved someone away from being violent, I suppose the movie would have some value; otherwise, it's just a gory guilt trip about how "we" all killed Christ--or, as some people argued, how "they"--the Jews--killed Christ and are to blame (not my POV, please note).

stephy said...

I didn't see it either, because that's my Jesus being physically ripped apart. Maybe one day I will see it. I just think I was too fragile at the time and am too fragile right now.

davidfrankphotography said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bebe said...

Perhaps I should see this movie, given the controversy it generated. The one thing which put me off viewing it was the reaction I heard from Christian friends who did see it: a rather odd (to me) but strong anti-Jewish sentiment was stirred up. Several of my movie-going friends expressed how much less they thought of Jews now that they had seen the real group that put Jesus to death. Well, make that 2 reasons I won't see it. Living in SoCal, I heard about Mel's comments to certain CHP officers and to persons of the Jewish faith. I suppose the news of his wife's divorce proceedings is only some sort of turning of the karmic wheel.

dfrank said...

This is the closest I've come to being "forced" to watch a movie as I had absolutely zero interest in seeing this film:

My wife and I were attending a Missions School and a guest teacher took a poll asking who had seen the Passion. My wife and I were the only 2 who did not raise our hands...Oh the horror of it all! The teacher kindly set up a very special screening for us (no popcorn allowed). After words he asked what we thought...there was an awkward silence as my wife and I struggled for something positive to say (one of us finally said "speechless" and luckily that was enough to pacify the teacher). Needless to say we didn't like the film (ironically we really did like the teacher though).

I am at complete loss as to why this film is so popular with Christians, especially since it gives absolutely no background on why Jesus was likable or why he would be hated. Also, isn't the resurrection kind of the best part of the whole story?

BPB said...

i loved it. i loved the fact that he was beaten mercilessly. right in front of my eyes.

for one single reason.....all along the way he did not retaliate in word or deed. he was either a total wuss, or he purposefully underwent all that, to, what the bible says, love people sacrificially.


that said, the greater the pain, the more respect, admiration, etc, i have for him.

i couldn't do it. i'd be pissed, and lash out. or horrified. or so completely depressed knowing what was coming, i'd go and hide somewhere.

there's no way around the brutality.

as far as kids watching it, mine will watch it when i think they are old enough to be able to process it/handle it, but no sooner. i'd much rather them watch something like lord of the rings, some epic battle between good and evil, with real characters, then just about any disney movie ever put out.

Simone said...

Carla, I was a Christian, so the relationship with Christ is not at all foreign to me.

I still stand by what I said while taking into account what you said. Of course I understand that Jesus had feelings just like everyone else, but the uncertainty that the rest of us life with, was nothing Jesus really had to deal with. He knew where he was going. People have sacrificed themselves for others throughout history, none of whom were as certain as Jesus was of what would become of them.

Supposedly Jesus giving himself for us was a great sacrifice because he was without sin and died for us. I just feel suffering, no matter how graphic and miserable Mel Gibson depicted it, isn't such a sacrifice when you have the ultimate reward waiting for you. Had Jesus been condemned to hell so we (you, I guess. I'm not going) could go to heaven, THAT would be a real sacrifice. People have suffered a lot worse serving their countries with far less certainty for their futures than Jesus had.

I respect anyone's love for Jesus, but I simply can't grasp his suffering, as depicted in the movie as being any great basis for such reverence. Since that is what the Passion focussed on, I think that really skews the message unless that really is it.

pure_light said...

Simone,
I guess part of it is the fact that he came in the first place. He could have stayed up there in heaven and let us run our lives into the ground. But he came, despite knowing what would happen, because He loves us. I mean, imagine Jesus getting ready to go into the world, knowing the horrible things that would happen to him, despite all he would give to his people and despite what he was about to do for them.

Jesus probably has a different perspective on heaven than we do, being God and all. So he gets back to heaven and watches what people do with His sacrifice. He sees a huge growth in His church, but he also sees persecution of his children and he sees His own chosen people reject the gospel. He watches people replace Him with idols of their own making. He watches cult after cult distort his message for evil.

That really sucks.

I don't think He sits up there on a comfy cloud couch and watches us toil on Earth until we die like He's just watching TV after coming home from work. I think he works day and night trying to help his people become who he wants them to be. Just because He is immortal doesn't mean he does nothing.

Anonymous said...

Friends, Roman, Countryfolk!
This was a great picture for believers to see the price paid for our sins, for non believers it was a horrid blood curling movie.
I think we need to step back and and see it with an open mind and a spiritual eye. As I mentioned at first, for believers its intent was to deepen our reverence for our Lord and the price he paid for you and me. His blood is what washes us clean and takes the sin death stain form our souls.

stephy said...

As a believer it was a horrid blood-curdling movie for me too. I just wonder why it didn't depict his sinless life and only his unspeakably brutal death.

Mikey said...

"Okay, now in scene, Jesus, we need you to resurrect from the tomb, and——hold on, where the hell's that kid with my latte?"

Carrie said...

Jesus's whole purpose was to show us how to live like him and to proclaim salvation and reconciliation - setting the prisoners free, making the blind to see, etc. the point isn't how badly he was beaten, although that has a relevant place in our faith. the point is to help those who Jesus helped, to love without conditions or ultimatums. and we certainly don't need hollywood distorting the image of Christ to guilt people into feeling badly about themselves and being angry at the Jews for killing him. also, i enjoyed the picture. mel, your movie was unnecessary, and i think you missed the point.

La Tricoteuse said...

Of course it's a snuff film. Aphorism #208 from The Way by Opus Dei's founder Josemaria Escriva - "Blessed me pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain....Glorified be pain." Mel Gibson follows this guy's writings, and focuses on that aspect of the gospel story.

Remember that God sent a man, and NOT a book. And CERTAINLY NOT a movie. The message was the man, not the book, and certainly not the movie.

pure_light said...

I just filled out an application for summer camp, and the only R rated movie we can bring is "The Passion of the Christ". I lol'd inside when I read that.

Sandra said...

I have to be honest.. this movie has changed a lot of lives and has gotten people to think about Jesus. His death (and resurrection) is THE most powerful thing in history. There are lots of movies about His life, which obviously was amazing in itself. So therefore, I can't call it a snuff movie.. I can say though that seeing it once was enough for me.

sandy in buffalo

Anonymous said...

Funny that fundies liked this movie, given how generally bigoted they are toward Catholics. Though it wouldn't be surprising if most of them didn't even know that MG is Catholic.

Roman de la rose and Pygmalion said...

When this movie came out, I hadn't left the church yet, but I still refused to see it because of the gratuitous violence. When fellow youth group members and my JF boyfriend found out, they nearly dis-fellowshipped me, as if I was breaking one of the commandments!

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that the actor portraying Jesus was struck by lightning -- TWICE -- during the filming says all you need to know about the movie. Though I wish it had been Gibson.

Anonymous said...

*** Funny that fundies liked this movie, given how generally bigoted they are toward Catholics ***

Their bigotry toward Catholics is outweighed by their even greater bigotry toward Jews, which this film encourages.

Jen B said...

a friend of mine dubbed this movie "the beatdown featuring jesus"

Patrick said...

"Bashin' of the Christ," lol
I've also heard "Smashin' of the Christ"

baileyklentzman said...

i never saw it. it came out when i was in high school and my church went to see it as a group event. instead of seeing the movie with the other members of my church, i babysat all of their children and made a good amount of money.

the fact that i never saw it astounds some of my friends. how could i not have?? but then i tell them i'll watch it if someone else watches it with me, and no one ever volunteers.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to do a Don Rickles about Arabs, but it turned into a Mel Gibson about Mexicans lol

Steven said...

I didn't realize that the human body could possibly hold that much blood. All mankind really could use Christ today... as a blood donor!

Kate said...

I remember feigning horror while watching this movie with my youth group when it came out in theaters. I always had a hard time getting into the sentimentality of that death and resurrection stuff.