The Passion Assaults Our Sensibilities
The Critics Speak:
Several critics have weighed in on the Passion and here are what they are saying:
1. "The problem with The Passion's violence is not merely how difficult it is to take, it's that its sadistic intensity obliterates everything else about the film. Worse than that, it fosters a one-dimensional view of Jesus, reducing his entire life and world-transforming teaching to his sufferings, to the notion that he was exclusively someone who was willing to absorb unspeakable punishment for our sins."
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
2. "Mr. Gibson has departed radically from the tone and spirit of earlier American movies about Jesus, which have tended to be palatable (if often extremely long) Sunday school homilies designed to soothe the audience rather than to terrify or inflame it. The Passion of the Christ is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of JesusÂ final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it. Mr. Gibson has constructed an unnerving and painful spectacle that is also, in the end, a depressing one."
A. O. Scott The New York Times
3. "For the first time in my life I have a visceral idea of what the Passion consisted of. I think that those who criticize the film for concentrating on the death of Jesus and not his life teachings, miss the point. This is not a sermon or a homily, but a visualization of the central event in the Christian religion. Take it or leave it." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
It is so interesting to hear what people are thinking. I am very encouraged that this movie has, at it's least, stirred up discussion of Christ in the common world. As far as these reviews go I have numbered them above so I can rebut each.
1. The Chrsitian in me read this and said --- DUH! I had to remind myself that not all believe. Jesus' life, work and teachings all do lead up to this one moment of taking on the sins of the world. A common "scholar" would even understand this. Anyone who has ever read the Gospels will realize this. It is the climax of the story. This is true even in the most literal litary analysis of the text. I mean we are talking 7th grade English lesson here people. All of Christ's teachings were simply rising action to this moment. He came to die. Jesus said that himself on many occaisions. It is sad to think that someone would view this film and not understand that this is very true. I doubt that Mr. Turan is in anyway of believer in Christ. I pray that this movie's imagaes will continue to haunt him and he will look into the full claims of Christ as a result.
2. We need to have our spirit's assaulted. This movie is a display of historical fact. To parade a barely sweating Jesus down the Via Delarosa and then comfortably tie him to a beam of wood completely misses the accuracy of what happened. I admit this is not an easy film to watch. The times were savage. The people were savage. It is a period in history where people would flock to arenas to watch others be maulled to death by lions. Turning our back on the savagry of the time is to ignore what it really means and what we can learn from those times. I don't want an easy going Christ. That is not the God I know nor the one I choose to serve.
3. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to see that Roger Ebert (and his counterpoint Richard Roeper) actully "got" this film. It is great for him to acknowledge this not only as great film but to understand that this is a very realistic portrayal of the centerpiece event that shaped Christianity.
I was not surprised to see and hear most of the critics brush this film off as a nothing moment in film history. It was a movie that changes your soul. It was not violence for violence sake. It was not crude language or gratuitous nudity. I am not surprised that for the most part they don't get it. It is popular to stand agianst this film. I am encouraged that prominent critics like Ebert and Roeper would be willing to stand for right even if they are in the minority. Hollywood just does not know how to embrace such a powerful, true film.