by Jon Hillman
There have been many great films made about the life and times of Jesus Christ. Many of them anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, can easily enjoy and still take a lot from. Considered to be one of the greatest is The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) directed by Italian director/writer/poet Pier Paolo Pasolini (an atheist), a mere decade before his controversial Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975). Cecil B. DeMille gave us another great classic with the silent film The King of Kings(1927). Even Martin Scorsese threw his hat into the ring with much protested, yet still one of my all time favorite movies (which I may try to defend in a future review), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Years later, in 2004, with a new found faith in Jesus under his belt, ole “Mad Max” himself decided to give it a go… and failed miserably.
One of the main things that makes some of the above films so great is that they spent the bulk of the film concentrating on the messages that Jesus taught, the hope that he brought to all, and then ended with his death by crucifixion as a final closure. The Passion of the Christ, however, skips past all of that and jumps straight to the end, and boy is it brutal.
The film begins in the garden of Gethsemane, just mere hours before Jesus’ death. It then jumps to his trial, some scary little children with demon faces, and then about two hours worth of torture and savagery. Many who watch this will be guilt tripped into feeling bad, which seems to be the only reason for it really being made. I went into this to see if the rumors were true, that it would in fact change my life and build a stronger relationship with Jesus. I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed, I think disgusted is a much better description. This came off as nothing but pure exploitation, perhaps, maybe even snuff. I am normally a fan of the horror/torture/exploitation genre, and had that been all that this was supposed to be, I would have been most pleased, but considering the message Mel Gibson was trying to convey, I simply think that he should be ashamed of himself.
Mel, you had a great motive. You wanted to spread the gospel, doing what you believe to be right, and I applaud you for it. Wanting to do so through a major motion picture which you yourself financed is very brave, for which, once again, I applaud you. You must, however, realize that torture porn is not the way to do it. I understand that many in the Christian community, especially many in my own family, will find that fact that anyone could even begin to speak negatively at all about The Passion of the Christ to be pure blasphemous, but I think too many people are missing what’s really important. Jesus was very wise. He taught of love, kindness, and hope. If you really want to be a good Christian, you should focus more on how Christ lived, not how he died. That, to me, is the most blasphemous of all.