Thursday, June 15, 2006


RUN TIME: 127 min.

After watching THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST me, my brother and my sister had this huge debate about the movie. They just didn’t accept the idea of the movie. How could Mel Gibson show all such violence and think that it is spiritual. They just didn’t agree to the movie’s notion of violence being the way to spirituality. Normally I tend to convince people with my point of view but here I couldn’t. And it wasn’t because either of us was right or wrong. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST has divided movie-goers throughout the world on its notion of religious faith and it will continue to do so. There is absolutely no doubt to the fact that it is one of the most controversial movies ever made.
Mel Gibson’s film is about the last twelve hours of the life of the Jesus of Nazareth. Everyone has read or heard what the Jesus taught and that he was crucified. Everyone knows that he sacrificed his life for the atonement of mankind’s sins. But THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST really made me understand what was the whole ordeal like for the Jesus. Mel Gibson is a deeply religious man and it is pretty evident here. He follows the Bible to the minutest possible detail. As a matter of fact Pope John Paul II himself blessed the movie.
I am not a Christian and I am not exactly an expert on the religion. But I sure have read the Holy Bible. And when I watched THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST I developed this great respect for the Christ. The movie doesn’t show the Jesus in one of those 50s and 60s Hollywood productions but portrays him as an enlightened soul driven by his passion. He is tempted on numerous occasions by the evil force but he never ever falls to those temptations. According to the Holy Bible the Jesus told his followers that the only way to God is through me. And you have to eat my flesh and drink my blood. The Holy Bible says that the Jesus sacrificed himself to wash away our sins. He endured all the pain in the world for the spiritual elevation of mankind. I knew all this before I saw THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. But the movie made me realize what this flesh and blood person actually achieved. I don’t know if he was human or if he was divine. But days after watching the movie, I just could not stop thinking about the Jesus’ conviction towards his passion. The movie actually made me realize what he actually achieved and the significance of all those passages in the Holy Bible. The Jesus sacrificing himself never really registered any actual significance in me. But THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST mad me realize the determination and his passion to accomplish it.
It is common knowledge that the ritual of sacrificing living beings be it a cow or a goat or in some cases babies has been prevalent throughout the world at some point or the other. I had read somewhere that the whole philosophy behind this ritual was not only to appease the one sitting above but the process of watching an innocent being have its life taken away from it for our sins. That would bear on our conscience and every time we tend to commit a sin the image of that innocent being would stop us from doing so. I am not supporting the ritual, no sane man ever would. But the philosophy behind the ritual does have a lot of weight. Whether the sins are so great so as to ask for the sacrifice of a living being is whole another point of debate.
And THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST does just that. I don’t know if mankind’s sins are so great that it demands for the sacrifice of a human being. But the Holy Bible does say that man has committed so many sins that he has gone a great distance away from God and that is the reason for all the sufferings on earth. The son of man has the onus on him to carry the burden of sins of mankind and to elevate us closer to the father. The Christ went through all that so that mankind watches that pure, enlightened soul go up the crucifix for them.
I am not sure I believe in all that mechanism of going to God, but after watching the movie I was amazed at the level of belief the Christ had. After all, the only thing that matters is faith.
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST does what no amount of literature or musicals can do. It made me consider the life I have led in a new light. I don’t know if everything the Holy Bible says is true or not. But what struck me most was that here is a being who suffered because of our sins. Every whip stands for the sins mankind has committed. And maybe a little effort on our part could have him suffer lesser. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST makes us feel guilty.
As a movie, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is a flawless masterpiece. Everything, just about everything is nothing short of fantastic. It is one of those unique movies in history that achieve what they set out to do.
There can be no superlatives befitting enough for James Caviezel’s heroic portrayal of the Jesus. This is one of the great performances I have seen from an actor.
But discussing Mel Gibson’s movie on the basis of technique, its cinematography, and its performances or for that matter its direction would be doing a great disservice to it. The movie is of course exceptional in these and all other departments. The movie has raked in millions but that would totally off the point. Quantifying anything here would indeed be a great disrespect to the movie. And I am pretty sure that Mel Gibson didn’t make the movie for his personal gains. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is Mel Gibson’s idea, his religious convictions and about those of the Jesus. It is not one of those 50s and 60s biblical epics with handsome actors with great make up put up fake performances. It is not one of those where you come out happy and unaffected. Many people actually felt disturbed. And many people actually came weeping out of the movie. I don’t know if that is the correct response to the movie. But anybody who is experiencing a spiritual experience akin to a Sunday morning church gathering should better stay away.
Much of the controversy the movie has generated is deserved. But raising questions about the movies Anti-Semitic tone and its violent depiction (THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is the most violent movie I have ever seen) are unjustified. The actual debate is about the belief and faith of the Christ and the Holy Bible. I still cannot accept the fact that mankind’s sins are so great that they warrant a human being’s sacrifice.
I cannot remember the last time when the title of a movie was more apt. The dictionary meaning of the passion in the present context is a musical or a painting depicting Jesus’ ordeal. Here it signifies the passion of the Jesus towards his beliefs. For me it also signifies the passion of Mel Gibson towards this movie. Mel Gibson wasn’t getting any body to finance THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST owing to its controversial subject and to the fact that it was entirely in Aramaic with English subtitles. In the end he funded the movie with $25 million of his own money.
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST represents the cinematic art at its peak. Great works of art always are debatable. And that is why they are great. They arouse a debate. They ignite our minds and our souls. Many people would not agree with Mel Gibson’s idea of religion. But at least Mel Gibson has made them think about their beliefs. That in itself is a monumental achievement. Great works of art never were about technicalities. They are always about what they convey. And they never answer any questions. I always like my movies when they don’t answer questions.
It is one of the greatest pieces of work ever committed on celluloid. Great works of art are always hugely personal pieces and here it is no different. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is about the religious beliefs and passion of Mel Gibson. I did not even want to rate the movie because it is much beyond the realms of normal movies. It doesn’t deserve to be quantified in terms of its cinematic qualities. The movie’s ambition and vision are infinitely higher than monetary or critical gain and it achieves them.
When I now see the man in the beard I always think what he endured for us. I don’t think too many movies in history have achieved that.


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Anonymous said...

For me this review has one more meaning passion of naidu for movies.
Review can't be better than this.

Anonymous said...

hey...good review...well written...

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chambilkethakur said...

I liked this movie a loads.
although u would curse me for comparison.
but i liked the last temptation of Christ more, the view point of movie is too brilliant and dafoe has acted too good. And the perspective of movie is totally different, Martin Scorcese is one of the GODs of movie making. well i would love to see a review on Last temptation too.