Thursday, December 08, 2005

REVIEW: The Passion of The Christ

First things first:

1) If you're a practicing Christian, you might be offended by this.
2) If you're overly sensitive to profanity or anything profane, you might be offended by this.
3) If you're a fire and brimstone bible-thumper, I guarantee that you will be offended by this.


Wow, that's better. I feel like I can let my hair down and say what I want without having my house shit-bombed. Which is bad. Being shit-bombed is so... icky. I can barely clean my cat box without throwing up in my mouth a little. So being shit-bombed would definitely make me spew.

The other day, I finally got around to seeing Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ, the film that everyone called him nuts for doing because it was in the original Hebrew, Latin and Aramaic. Maybe I missed the memo going around about it, but... what was this film about exactly? Jesus gets nabbed, he gets punished, then crucified. Um... yeah, I already knew all that. Why do I really need to see two Roman sadists flay a man to death? Can you say, "gratuitous"?

Sure, if you're a Christian, and Jesus was the man you believe is God Incarnate and you've taken him into your heart and know the story inside and out... hell yeah, you should see this film. But don't expect a story... it's just a series of events strung together without any new insights about its subject matter. Except maybe that you understand why Christians are so pissed off at the Jews for insisting Jesus get the nail treatment. That was pretty nasty.

Having said all that, I must say that Gibson does a bloody great job at showing you what Ancient Gallilee would have been like: the Romans speak Latin as naturally as if it were modern day Italian, and the garb they wear is not as pristine as we have seen in other films... instead, everything is dingy and dust-covered, as one would expect it to be in Ancient Gallilee. This film, for all of its lack of story, is real... almost too real.

The one thing Gibson did that sent me into fevered eye-rolling convulsions was his overuse of slow-motion. When a director uses slow-mo, it's intended as a tool to savor the moment, as if he's saying to the audience, "Here! Watch this! Isn't this amazing!?!?" Slow motion can be used with stunning effectiveness as in The Matrix or The Untouchables, but—like many cool techniques—it can be overused, too. While many love Peter Jackson and worship him as a demi-god, Jackson is waaaaay guilty of this, especially in Return of The King. Like, dude, we get it already... Sauran is being vanquished—why do we have to see slow-mo reactions from every character in Middle Earth??? Gibson showed Jesus' capture with so many slow motion takes that I thought it would be an hour before we would get to the next scene.

Still, Passion is beautifully shot, and—simply because of its subject matter and how accurately it seems to be portrayed—is worth seeing. If you're a Christian or revere the teachings of Jesus, then you absolutely must see it. Just don't expect much of a plot.

One final thought. In the time of Mosaic Law, it must have been revolutionary for anyone to pray for their own murderers. Truth be told, it remains a little radical. Sure, to read about someone forgiving their killers is one thing, but to actually see a man experience so much torture and anguish, to have his body savagely flayed and then nailed to a piece of wood, and then still pray for his punishers... well, it just blows me away.

No comments: