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my review

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  • Jim West
    My Review of The Passion of the Christ Movies are not documentaries. That is the first thing I have to tell myself whenever I see a movie on or about the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2004
      My Review of The Passion of the Christ

      Movies are not documentaries. That is the first thing I have to tell myself
      whenever I see a movie on or about the Bible. Like anyone in a particular
      field, I am prone to be hyper-critical when blatant errors and incorrect
      facts are presented on celluloid. I went to see the movie "Stigmata" with a
      friend and couldn't keep my mouth shut for the constant stream of "no way!"
      that bombarded the ears of those around. My friend swore he would never see
      a Bible movie with me again.

      With that in mind, I found Gibson's film quite powerful from both the
      artistic and cinematic perspectives. It is beautifully filmed. The costumes
      are exquisite (though Mary looks much too like a nun for my tastes) and the
      soundtrack is neither distracting nor unnoticed. That is, as a movie, it is
      beautifully made.

      As to the claim that the film is anti-semitic, I just don't see it. Passages
      are quoted which ameliorate the guilt of all parties. Jesus said "no one
      takes my life, I lay it down". Judas is declared more guilty than Pilate, to
      be sure, but that is simply in accord with the Gospel. All Jews are never
      portrayed as special objects of guilt. Pilate is not portayed as weak so
      much as caught between a rock (Ceasar) and a hard place (Ceasar!). The Roman
      soldiers are clearly more sadistic and vicious than anyone else in the film.
      I would have to say, if anyone is shown to be particularly vile, it is the
      soldiers who take great delight in their duty.

      In terms of faithfulness to the Biblical text and the historical situation
      of the first century, as a scholar of the Bible (for I can only speak from
      my own perspective) the film was more accurate than any other I have seen
      but not accurate at all times. The method of crucifixion was clearly
      influenced more by art than either the Bible or history. The nails through
      the palms, the nail in both feet on top of one another, the carrying of the
      entire cross, the speaking of Latin by Jesus (!) to Pilate and the speaking
      of Aramaic (!!!) by Pilate to the crowds are aspects of the film that are
      simply wrong. The additonal "allusions" to non Biblical ideas such as the
      face of Jesus being imprinted, Shroud of Turin fashion, by a woman offering
      him water, the plucking out of the thief's eye by a crow, the carrying of
      Satan of a large, hairy backed baby as Jesus was tormented, all left me a
      little iced. But, again, its a movie, not a documentary (I have to keep
      telling myself).

      Finally, on the brutality of the film. Yes, it is brutal. The scourging of
      Jesus was hard to watch (I had to cover my eyes a couple of times). The gore
      and flayed flesh and viciousness of the whole enterprise was a lot to
      endure. But it was not as much as Jesus of Nazareth did endure.

      Would I recommend the film? Yes. To youngsters under 13 or 14? No,
      absolutely not. Will I watch it again? No. Once was enough. But once was
      Dr Jim West
      Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
      http://biblical-studies.org -- Biblical Studies Resources
      http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com -- Biblical Studies Resources Weblog

      "The way many young theologues are dissociating themselves from the church
      is highly displeasing to me. It is also utterly unrealistic". Gerhard von Rad
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