I finally got the opportunity to see The Passion of the Christ on Friday night. Well the first half anyway. Now my not having seen it, long before Friday of course, wasn’t necessarily a case of me not wanting or avoiding seeing it. As it was the opportunity never presented itself. And, by no means, did it hurt there are literally thousands of film makers film’s I’d rather watch before watching one from Mel Gibson. I digress.
Keep in mind I know next to nothing concerning Jesus Christ. Not that I necessarily have any issues with finding out. But I have priorities, and reading about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth hasn’t ever ranked very high on a reading list for me. This is neither a historical or a religious commentary toward the significance of this film. This is merely a couple of first impressions from a piece of entertainment. Taken at face value…
I’m coming into this film “straight off the street,” with virtually no context into what I was watching, and it took a while to get my bearings. But before long, once my feet were wet, I wasn’t cognizant of the fact I was reading subtitles — nice big, legible subtitles, too (though the type wasn’t much to look at, typographically speaking). And, not only that, but I was completely captivated with the story and characters, as well. It’s not all that bad a movie, quite honestly.
It’s a story about the absolute worst in humanity, but in spite of that, the inspiring strength of the human spirit to survive.
My initial impressions mainly centred around two elements in the film. The violence and the controversy I recall the film inciting when it was initially released — that being the Jews were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion. What follows is what I could gather, again, from watching the first half. And, for the record, I intend to watch the second half, soon. It’s just 3 and a half hours (see my addendum) to sit while watching a movie is a tad tedious. This ain’t no Lord of the Rings — even though some of those characters looked like they came from Middle Earth.
Before I say this, don’t get me wrong, the violence depicted in the film is pretty graphic. And the effect of said violence is compounded by the fact these things are done to an individual for reasons his executioners believed he was something they were convinced of. Nothing more. But can you really say the violence was out of line with many other movies released today? Or even yesterday? Take the year 1974 as an example. And one movie specifically. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A movie still infamous, in today’s film environment no less, for it’s graphic depictions of violence.
Now I’m not comparing the two films, at all. Just aspects from their content. Though there is a reason I cited the Massacre, in particular. Violence isn’t all they both have in common. Each are interpretations (remember that is all a movie is) of events that supposedly really happened. And is beside my point.
As far as my second impression, the Jews being responsible for Jesus’ death. First off the only reason, I think, that had any legs was The Passion of the Christ was made by Mr. Gibson. I’m merely making that point for the reason that Mel seems to have some none too favourable opinions concerning Jewish people. Is he anti-semitic? It’s entirely plausible. However I do know anything I could write about him here is sure to be outdone by his loud mouth, sooner or later. I chose to remain patient.
But as far as my second impression goes, if you take the reason that the Jerusalem “mob” who demanded Jesus’ execution was responsible of Jesus’ death, it’s, at best, a sloppy argument. What choice did the Pontius Pilate have but to follow the mob’s wishes? The mob was convinced he was a “heretic.” There is a reason it is referred to as “mob mentality.” Mobs aren’t typically known for their reluctance, taking time to debate all the issues at hand, weigh the facts, decide on the most plausible explanation, then go from there. And religious belief (on the whole) isn’t known for its calm, rational thought, in situations such as these, especially.
Pontius Pilate had no more choice than to abide by that mob than Barack Obama had in dealing with the American mob by going into Pakistan after Osama bin Laden. If retaining power and appeasing the masses is the goal, which it so obviously is in Obama’s case, than I fail to see the merits in blaming an entire people for the actions of a few. The fact the people in the mob were Jewish is irrelevant. That isn’t excusing a mob, any mob, from the consequences of what they demand. Not that I think bin Laden didn’t deserve to be punished. But how is killing him, and relieving his suffering — being on dialysis can’t be fun (I don’t recall what it was like myself, being in a coma, and all) — punishment? Not only that but sending him to what he believed was his fate is “justice?” All because of your beliefs? That “logic” is beyond me.
Granted these arguments, and this movie, have more than one facet. A lot more than I’ve written about here. Things I can’t appreciate. I’m not saying it hasn’t, because I know it does, I’m merely saying if you’re willing to think more deeply about a movie, a movie such as this one for instance and everything it apparently represents, why should it stop there. Delve deeper. Nothing is ever this or that. Put yourself in another individual’s circumstances and try to imagine what they must think and feel. And, most importantly, why…
It’s Sunday evening and I just sat down to watch the rest of this movie, with a keen interest to see how Mel filled the “second half,” what with Jesus already on the cross and all. Turns out The Passion of the Christ is not 227 minutes long, but rather 127 minutes long. I need to pay closer attention to what people say to me, eh?