I had to go see it really, I mean so much controversy how could I resist. Although after reading various reviews about how this was the most violent and shocking film ever made I was a bit doubtful about the fact that I brought food to munch on ;) However it wasn’t half as violent as it had been out to be. Yes the violence was horrific and gruesome and just plain nasty but it was not unrelenting nor was it verging on the pornographic as I have heard some say. I do now, however, realise why Mel insisted on using Aramaic and Latin, so we wouldn’t be able to look away. Because during the actual crucifixion scene, the hammering of the nails yes I looked away, but had to look back if I wanted to know what was going on.
Of course another side effect of using Aramaic was that the film kept reminding me of LOTR, when they speak elvish. The Latin didn’t have that impact, it just made me think of the Life of Brian.
Well enough about the subtitles, back to the film:
And I don’t think it works if you don’t already know the story. I mean parts of it will, the suffering and the pain. But unless you have some Christianity in your background will you really get the donkey ride and the waving of the palms? Not to mention the fact that many of the characters have no background whatsoever. Unless you have some knowledge of the gospels you won’t know who they are, and the flashbacks may in fact make things more confusing.
Lucky me, I was brought up a catholic, went to a convent school and everything. Even went to mass virtually every single Sunday till I realised what a pile of old crap all that dogma was; but that is veering off the point. I know that I do not believe, without question, that Jesus existed and was the son of god. I’m no even sure what I believe in. But I think that Christianity does get a lot of bad press, lets face it, it doesn’t have the most innocent of histories, but then again I don’t think any organised religion does. And at the heart of Christianity is a very simple message: “Love one another as I have loved you” that and forgiveness are, to me, the essential aspects of Jesus’ teaching, whether he existed or not doesn’t matter. And that may be why I have such problems with organised religion who profess to follow that teaching yet have been the cause of so much suffering in the world.
I do think that for people who know the story, that the film is could be a very powerful one. I mean I grew up knowing the story, how Jesus was whipped, taunted, beaten and finally crucified. Nailed to a cross and left to suffer. A horrible death, not to mention the fact that it usually takes ages, but at the same time, because it had been a pervasive story I never really thought about it. Sure I knew it was horrible, but never really thought about it as happening to a person. Jesus, after all was god wasn’t he?
That is where this film excels I think, in showing the humanity of Jesus. Yet at the same time, if you don’t know the background and the story leading up to the passion then this may site very strangely. After all little effort is made to contextualise what is going on for those viewers unfamiliar with the story.
For me, however, the suffering of Jesus took second place to the people who were inflicting that suffering. Okay, maybe not the gloating soldiers who seemed to delight in meting out violence (and I refuse to believe that people like that exist, despite the fact that I know they do), but the others, the more ordinary soldiers who were simply doing their job. How could you live with yourself after doing that to another person? And of course for the friends and family of the individual suffering.
The major problem I had with this film was the ending. I thought it echoed the Terminator films far too much. But that is just my opinion of course.
As for the questions regarding anti-Semitism? I don’t know. I think that there are people out there who will use any excuse to abuse people simply because they are different. I’ve hate the whole “Jews killed Jesus” argument anyway. I mean Jesus was a Jew. The disciples were all Jews. To hate Jews because of their religion is to hate Jesus.
In the film itself, I saw it more as established authority not wanting to accept change. If Jesus were to reappear today, the first people to speak against him would probably be the heads of the Christian churches.
Besides, its only a film.
If anyone says they enjoyed this film I’d keep my distance