The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Drama
Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Maia Morgenstern, Christo Jivkov
A film detailing the final hours and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The graphic details of Jesus' torture make the movie tough to sit through and obscure whatever message it is trying to convey.
  • Newmarket Film Group Company:
  • Unrated Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 25 Feb 2004 Released:
  • 31 Aug 2004 DVD Release:
  • $370.2M Box office:

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Trailer:

Fantastic10/10

View from the Second Star: The Passion of the Christ (Adam watched this film at a special preview in January)

It's hard to walk into a picture these days without knowing every detail about the movie. Trailers have shown too much story, reviews have jaded your perspective, or friends have refused to see it - movies get spoiled. Yet, sometimes, knowing the story is a far cry from seeing the event. For many, the story of the crucifixion is something they've grown up with, lived with, as far back as memory serves. I tell you this, no matter what you've heard, no matter what you know - you will be stunned by The Passion of the Christ.

From the opening shot to the falling credits, this film demands full control of ones body and emotion. So visually spectacular and physically gripping, this film had me literally convulsing as I attempted to watch what was onscreen. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, starring Jim Caviezel, is a retelling of the last hours of Jesus Christ. Believe me when I say that this production is more than a story, more than a movie; this film can only be described as an experience.

This movie is fantastically brutal. From beginning to end, blood drenched flesh is smeared across the screen in a ghastly fashion. Gibson defends his incredibly graphic depiction by noting that the bible states Jesus was beaten beyond recognition. I assure you, beaten beyond recognition hardly describes soft tissue being torn to be the bone as blood drips into puddles on the ground. The violence shown in this movie is unlike other Hollywood violence - it's uncomfortably personal. The scenes are so believable, the violence so real, that the scenes appear to take place in your very presence; imagine before you a man being torn to bloody shreds; your helpless to do anything, you're a spectator - utterly horrific.

As any appreciator of the finer things in film might see, The Passion of the Christ is artistic genius. Mel Gibson stated that his film follows the last 12 hours of Christ in accordance to the gospel, and although biblical scholars have confirmed this to be true, it is also true that a certain artistic license was taken to particular moments in the story. Nothing anti-biblical was added, but inside a sense deep meaning was inserted through symbols and actions not actually recorded in the gospels. This artistry serves to aid the story and engage the audience - artistically and culturally, expect nothing less that a film superbly crafted. Set your expectations high, this one can handle them.

Unless you've been avoiding the media in recent months you've heard accusations of anti-Semitism against this movie: its going to rekindle a hate for Jews, its depicting the Jewish leaders of the day as monsters, and its showing that the Jews were solely responsible for the death of Jesus. I
trust that once the movie is seen by the general public all of these statements will fade into the shadows; this movies greatest defense will be itself. It is true that the Jews were involved in the crucifixion of Christ, just as it's said in the bible for nearly two thousand years. Hearing this story doesn't swell up a hatred for the Jewish race, no more than watching Schindlers List makes one hate current day Germans. This film is going to be many things to many people - anti-Semitic is not one of them.


No matter your background, no matter your race, no matter your beliefs on the afterlife, this movie needs to be seen. The art, the culture, and the magnificence - see The Passion of the Christ and you will have seen the fantastic. Ten out of ten.

This has been a critical review by Adam Schellenberg


Film making at its most powerful5/10

It took me a long while to decide whether to see The Passion of the Christ. It had been my intention to since Mel Gibson first announced the project, but endless reports of the film's unflinching brutality made me fear it might be too much to bear. I eventually decided, however, that whether I really wanted to or not, this was a film I needed to see. It took me two viewings to really get a grip on it, so intense were the emotions it provoked in me. Even now, weeks later, re-examining it in detail is still deeply affecting. For those few still unaware, the film details the last twelve hours in the life of Christ. Its dialogue is entirely in Latin and Aramaic, with English subtitles, a remarkably bold decision by Gibson, and one that pays dividends. On one level it unites an international cast, sparing us any clashing accents, and gives the film a greater sense of authenticity. On another, it forced Gibson and his team into a very visual form of storytelling; even amongst the carnage there are shots of aching beauty.

Huge credit must go to the cast for mastering the language, and employing it in such universally excellent performances. As Jesus, James Caviezel has the immense task of embodying the most important figure in human history, and often doing so with little dialogue, and one eye swollen shut. Despite these handicaps Caviezel delivers a performance of great emotional depth, embodying quiet nobility and sacrifice. The performance that really stood out was that of Maia Morgenstern as Mary. The pain she conveys through her large and expressive eyes is heart-breaking, as she is forced to watch her child endure the most unimaginable suffering. Yet throughout the film she maintains an almost luminescent beauty, entirely befitting the mother of God.

One of the themes of the story emphasised by the film is the bond between Jesus and Mary. One flashback, found nowhere in the Bible, details the mundane routine of Jesus being called in from carpentry by His mother to eat. It was an immensely powerful reminder that for all He was the Son of God, Jesus was also the son of an ordinary woman, who He loved as any child loves its mother. It was also from this vein that the most powerful moment of the film sprang. As Jesus carries His cross, Mary begs John to get her closer to Him. She emerges into His path just as He fall under the weight of the cross. She runs to His aid, and as she does so the film cuts between this, and a similar moment when Jesus was a child and fell outside the house. While she could offer him protection then, now she is powerless; she weeps as the guards thrust her roughly away from her son, and so do we.

It is moments such as these that make the film so much more than the orgy of violence its detractors claim. For example, Peter's panicked betrayal, and subsequent horrified realisation of what he has done is handled in such a way as to move one to tears. There is also an immensely poetic moment near the film's end, in which the camera tracks the progress of a single drop of rain from miles above Golgotha, which falls as Jesus breathes His last: a teardrop from Heaven.

As a film, The Passion of the Christ is excellent; as a religious experience it is even better. Gibson has come under attack for focusing merely on Jesus' death, and omitting His message of love - this criticism is both unfair and ill-judged. In fact, he strikes the perfect balance, including flashbacks at pivotal moments of the film to events such as Jesus washing the disciples' feet, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Last Supper. These remain very true to the text, with quotes such as "You are my friends, and the greatest love a man can have for his friends is to give his live for them" (John 15:13) incorporated whole and delivered beautifully.

Even is there were no flashbacks, however, the point of the film would remain, and it is a vitally important one. It serves as a powerful reminder of the reality of what happened: Jesus did not merely die for us, He was killed by us in the most terrible way imaginable. It is something that can easily be lost through over familiarity with the text, and the flowery nature of other representations, but which must not be forgotten.

It has been said that "If Christ be not risen, then our faith is in vain", and the film has also been attacked for devoting just a few minutes to the Resurrection. Such criticism, however, betrays a very narrow minded approach; the manner in which this sequence is filmed conveys the full thematic significance it.

Perhaps the film's greatest impact has been to get me to pick up the Bible again, and do so with a new faith and understanding. And for that Gibson deserves nothing but praise.
Misconceptions about the Passion10/10

Obviously there are some people who are rather ignorant about the words they use and what the Passion of the Christ actually is supposed to be. The one user who said "There is nothing passionate about this movie" obviously did not research the meaning of the word Passion. The English word has its roots in the Latin passio, which means, simply, "suffering."

A search on "Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary" turns up:

PASSION: \Pas"sion\, v. i. To suffer pain or sorrow; to experience a passion; to be extremely agitated.

People also seem upset that this movie did not portray the times in Jesus' life when he was deep in ministry. The Passion of the Christ is a centuries old tradition. I recently visited Oberammergau, Germany and saw the site of the Passion Play that has been performed every decade since 1634. The Passion Play ONLY portrays the suffering of Christ. It is meant to bring the what Christ did for our sins to the forefront.
A movie like no others...10/10

The second the movie was over, I was dumbstruck, and I wasn't the only one. When the movie ended I thought there would be a big round of applause but when I turned around I saw that about half the audience was still in their seats. I looked at a couple of people, some were speachless and most were crying. Nonetheless I didn't hear a word. When I thought about it, i realized an applause would have been ridiculous.

When someone asked me how the movie was I was going to say it was amazing, but that wouldn't have done the movie justice. The movie was an extremely moving, emotional experience.

The cast was absolutely flawless, Jim Caviezel gave a powerful performance as Jesus, Maia Morgenstern as Mary brought me to tears, and even though Monica Bellucci spoke only a few lines, her performance and beauty astonished me. The score was incredible. It had a middle-eastern feel to it, and was timeless and beautiful.

Most aspects of the movie were perfect to me. Instead of a squeaky clean version of the life of Jesus it was a realistic and heartbreaking portrayal of his final hours. The Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew languages, and wonderful cinematography made you really feel like you were in first century Jerusalem. The flashbacks truly had an emotional impact on me.

While watching this movie I forgot about everything else in the world. Mel Gibson did an incredible job as a director and he truly was brave for taking on this project despite all the controversy.

As for the two main concerns of most people, the ultra-violence, and the alleged anti-semetism these are my views on the two.

Everything people are saying about the violence is true. It is brutal, gory, and quite possibly the most violent work in cinematic history. This R-Rating is very well justified and an NC-17 would have made sense. If you are the type of person that cannot bear violence, this is definately not the movie for you. Some scenes of torture last about 10 minutes when you feel you've seen enough after 30 seconds. But, the violence I feel was absolutely necessary. The movie is about the suffering/passion of Jesus, and turning the camera away would not have an impact on you. The movie shows what Jesus actually went through for all of mankind's sins (according to Christianity). Mel Gibson did not exagerate the violence or make it look like horror movie or Kill Bill violence. As Jay Leno said on his show the other night, when Jesus was hit it felt like WE were being hit as opposed to other violent movies were you feel like YOU are the one hitting the person. I don't think anyone can say that every single hit upon Jesus didn't affect him/her somehow.

As for the anti-semetism in the movie, I didn't find it was as bad as everyone is making it out to be. The thing that made me see why people were criticizing Mel Gibson for was that instead of spreading the blame somewhat on the Jewish high priests (Sanhedrin) and mostly on Pilate, 99% of the blame was put on the Sanhedrin, which seemed false to me considering that historically it is known that Pilate was a vicious monster, and in the movie he seems like a gentle person and reluctant to crucify Jesus. I simply didn't buy the fact that Pilate would be so nice. The movie can be considered anti-first-century-Romans, and anti-Sanhedrin, but I did not feel the movie was attacking the Jewish religion, or the entire Jewish people. But the movie is not anti-semitic for these reasons: 1. It is made evident that it was Jesus' prophecy and destiny is to die. He could probably have escaped from Gethsemane or even the cross (if he truly had ''powers''). He was born to die, and there is no blame to be placed on anyone. If anything, the Romans of that time are portrayed horribly (though realistically), and they are the ones that made him suffer tremendously before his death. 2. Basically all the ''Good Guys'' in the movie are Jewish. Jesus himself was a Jew, Mary was, The man that helped Jesus carry the cross was Jewish, Veronica the woman that brought Jesus water and wiped his face was, and many Jews were screaming in the crowd against the torture and crucifixion of Jesus. (Personally, I don't know why Pilate was portrayed so nicely. It's not like the Jews had the ultimate power. It was ultimately HIS decision to have Jesus crucified.)

An aspect of the film that intrigued me was the character of Satan, and the demons in the movie. When I first found out Satan was in the movie, I was scared it would be a red man with horns and a pitchfork, but he/she is portrayed subtly. Everything about him/her was very Eerie.

Mel Gibson deserves a lot of respect for making this film. He made the movie the way HE thought it was and though most historians or even religious figures would not agree completely to what happened, it is a general idea as to what those final hours were. When reading the new testament or hearing the story of Jesus, it's hard to understand what it was actually like for Jesus to go through all that pain, and what it was like for Mary to watch her son get tortured and crucified. The movie really put things in perspective for me.

Some people are criticizing him for adding things never written in the gospels such as demons harassing Judas Iscariot, most scenes with Satan, and the torture from Gethsemene to the Jewish court, but he had to fill the blanks in the Gospels with what he thought might have happened.


In conclusion, not everyone will like this movie. Some will love it, and some will hate it. But, I think that if you can endure the extreme violence and torture you should at least see it before you judge it. My opinion: 10/10
Great visually stunning period piece9/10
This film is neither preachy nor pedantic, and was a welcome surprise for me. As a non-Christian who nevertheless respects the historical figure of Jesus Christ and the beauty of his philosophy and teachings, I found The Passion to be a powerful portrayal of much that I think is worthwhile about the Christ story. I know the film has been maligned for anti-semitic content (perhaps because Jews make mistakes in the film and are seen as persecutors instead of victims? - it could have been anybody!), and for various other problems - but let's face it - any movie portraying this subject was bound to face strong reactions. And kudos to Mel Gibson for not shying away from the subject by creating a sterile, gutless, Disney story out of what really was a good example of the everyday horror of life on the fringes of the Roman empire. Gibson invents a new genre with The Passion - that of historical horror.

The performances in this film are inspired. I felt that the film brought out the cowardice of the apostles very forcefully, and the courage and love of the two Maries in Jesus' life was palpable to the very end. The effect of Aramaic and Latin, with the moody soundtrack, was spellbinding. Again kudos to Mel Gibson for his courage and artistic integrity on the decisions involved in these elements of the film.

Final word - this is not a film for the whole family nor is it a feel-good film. Don't see it if you're not willing to confront the worst aspects of human nature up close. And don't go in looking for your own version of the story - it's not your film! This is what Mr. Gibson believes, and it's his own revelation, not necessarily to be shared by all.