What’s Controversial About The Passion of The Christ?

(Note: I originally wrote this review back in 2005, it has been edited several times since then. Last year I posted this in another site and now I’m reposting it here.)

Because Holy Week is right around the corner again, here’s a movie that’s good to watch during this season of Lent.

There is nothing in this movie that we Christians and other people don’t already know. Everything portrayed in it is part of Jesus’ life as we know it. If that is so, what’s all the fuss about it? Let’s find out.

Summary:

Ultima Cena
(Photo credit: Juan de Juanes via Wikipedia)

The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 movie directed by Mel Gibson. He also co-wrote it with another screenplay writer. It stars Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ.

This is a story about the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life, with some flashbacks included as well.

According to Wikipedia:

In Christianity, the Passion (from Late Latin: passionem “suffering, enduring”) is the short final period in the life of Jesus covering his entrance visit to Jerusalem and leading to his crucifixion on Mount Calvary, defining the climactic event central to Christian doctrine of Salvation History.

Naturally, the movie starts with Jesus being inside Gethsemane praying in the forested garden and ends with Jesus rising from the dead. 

I believe this film has become the most popular Jesus movie ever.  Let’s watch the trailer, shall we?  

Warning, if in case you still have not seen this movie: It is rated R so be prepared before watching it as there is a lot of blood, gore, and violence in it. Keep some tissue handy too because you will need it.

Review:

Some people say this movie can promote anti-Semitism. Why? Is it because it gives us a visual interpretation of what we can read in the Bible? Or is it because Jesus’ life story “came to life” and would not be relegated to our imagination anymore?

Jesus in Golgotha
(IMAGE CREDIT: THEOPHANES THE CRETAN VIA WIKIPEDIA)

There are still many Jews alive today that’s why they think the movie will make us hate them all because this is such a moving story. The movie can stir up deep emotions so if one talks about it with Jewish people they’re bound to get in an argument with them. Actually, it only deals with the last moments of Christ but it still greatly affects everyone who sees it.

Mel Gibson’s film seems to be a very accurate depiction of Jesus Christ’s suffering – before his death and resurrection. It seems almost everything in the film can be proven by scientific, religious and historical facts even if it is based on the Bible story. If you had been interested enough to learn about such Christian mysteries you would say the portrayal looks quite accurate. They even speak Latin throughout the film, ain’t that cool?

Gethesemane
(PHOTO CREDIT: ANDREA MANTEGNA VIA WIKIPEDIA)

The last 12 hours of his life is depicted very realistically that you’ll cringe every time the Roman soldiers whipped and scourged him. You’d turn away or squeeze your eyes shut for a moment or so every time he gets brutally hit to lessen its impact. You will hate the villains, the high priests, and their followers, and actually you’ll hate everyone who’s putting Jesus down. Personal memories long forgotten may be remembered. Every emotion you have will come alive. Even the hardest of hearts will be moved by this film.

Ah, but I am only talking about the effect this movie can elicit. What more if I tell you the events that most of us have read and heard before? What if you see how he is flagellated, whipped and treated like sh*t? I wonder if you can keep your eyes open while watching those scenes.

Flagellation of Christ
(PHOTO CREDIT: PETER PAUL RUBENS VIA WIKIPEDIA)

Others say this movie is not uplifting, enlightening or affirming for one’s self and faith; but instead, it is gory, shocking and disturbing. If you analyze it, this movie tells a kind of truth! This is the reality many people don’t want to believe or accept. We have all romanticized the life of Jesus that seeing such a realistic depiction makes us realize that, indeed, his life was really not a bed roses at all.

This film is just an interpretation of Jesus’ last 12 hours with bits and pieces of his whole life sprinkled in and yet it had raised such a ruckus when it was released to the public. Why? Aside from the anti-Semitism claims by other people, you may experience a renewal of faith everytime you watch this movie. 

If you have not experienced any real difficulties in your life, this movie may be boring or shocking and depressing to you. If however you see this film as a tried and tested individual who is continually being tested with the harsh realities of life, you will find that your hardships are nothing compared to Him – to Him who had the least or no sin at all yet was punished for enlightening and changing people for the better. And he went through all of that for everyone to be saved from death.

Christ crowned with thorns
(PHOTO CREDIT: MATTHIAS STOM VIA WIKIPEDIA)

Truly I say to you, this is not an anti-Semitic movie. The Passion of the Christ is about personal realization. The movie has an underlying message we must uncover. Only then will we realize that anti-Semitism is not the issue here but ourselves.

Overall, one should not worry about the Hollywood extra/add-ins as it does minimal change or damage to Jesus’ story (e.g. the devil as a bald character). Just focus on what it’s about and not on the added stuff. This is a story Christians and Catholics already know and yet it does not seem too familiar at all.

In case you need to read the Bible because you haven’t yet, I recommend borrowing one or going to church or order this chronologically arranged one online. It will help you understand the context of the movie.

INRI
(PHOTO CREDIT: ADVANCE VIA WIKIPEDIA)

Some people think the film is boring or too violent that it takes away from the message of the Bible. The reality of it is the ancient times are very different from today that of course we can’t relate much to them. It still doesn’t remove the fact that being betrayed or persecuted by most of your fellowmen and experiencing flagellation is no fun at all. Getting crucified after being tortured when you did not even commit any crime is painful and unfair! The story is not something we just imagine, those things happened to Jesus! 

Even if the critics disagree and focus on the perceived failings of this movie, I still say kudos to Mel Gibson and his cast and crew for making such a great movie. This is definitely worth recommending to all Christians and non-Christians alike. It can even make the worst sinners confess their sins and repent!

praying girl

From time to time, we all need reminders on being better people. We should not forget our main goal here on Earth is to get back to Heaven. In order to do so we must first continuously change (or repent) for the better. If we need help in doing that we can talk to priests, order and read helpful e-books or rewatch films like this.

I can say it clearly showcases how apt the casting was as it is very effective in moving people. Again, kudos to the perfect portrayal of Jesus and also the great impression of Mary his mother and Mary Magdalene. Let’s not forget all the bit players too! Even the devil is acted out very well. Congratulations Mel Gibson! You did great!

As for the music, it comes up at the right moments plus the soundtrack also sounds good. 

If I had to rate this film from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, I give this movie a perfect 10.

Michaelangelo's Pieta
(PHOTO CREDIT: STANISLAV TRAYKOV VIA WIKIPEDIA)

Update:

In January 2018, Jim Caviezel confirmed there is an upcoming new moviea sequel to The Passion of the Christ which will be about the Resurrection. On IMDb it says shooting began May 2019 and that it should be released around 2020. Isn’t it exciting? Can’t wait for the next movie! 

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a video of Jim Caviezel’s testimony regarding the Lord and also how it was like to play Jesus Christ in this inspiring movie.

So what do you think of this film? Let’s discuss in the comments! 🙂

Originally posted on Bitlanders.

Care to rewatch The Passion of the Christ whenever you’d like? Click on the links below or in the article above and own some related memorabilia and a copy to watch whenever you feel like it. ^_^

The Passion of The Christ via PlayAsia | eBay | movie posters on eBay.
Bible related shows on PlayAsia | The Bible and related reading materials on eBay
Find out how to get paid to watch movies here.

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