Hey folks, Harry here - the final print of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was screened this morning here in Austin, but I just couldn't bring myself to seeing it there, simply because it wasn't a screen I'm particularly a fan of, and I knew I could see it two days later... ya know? However, tonight as I went to the press screening of STARSKY & HUTCH there were three screens at the theater occupied by a church congregation that was STRONGLY AFFECTED. In my screening of STARSKY & HUTCH as I waited for the film to start, two other local film critics that attended Butt-Numb-A-Thon 5 came up, having seen this morning's screening. One of them felt that the film in its final form is possibly one of the greatest films ever produced in the history of cinema. The other, who really liked it at BNAT - was more repulsed by the violence upon second viewing, but seemed to still admire the film. I can not possibly recommend this film higher. It is art, intensely brave cinema and astonishingly beautiful even in its brutality. I fully believe the film will become a classic. We haven't seen the likes of this one before.
Long time reader, first time writer.
It would be an honor for you to amplify my voice to the masses through your medium. Below is my review of "The Passion of the Christ."
Ironically, my roomate's church holds services every sunday at the local cineplex. The church was offered an advance screening by the theatre to all church members and friends on Monday, 2/23/04, and Tuesday, 2/24/04 to the Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's controversial film about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life.. Luckily, my roomate is a great friend of mine who grew up with me in Homestead Fl, and invited me to the monday night show in Orlando, where we both now live.
There is no other word to describe this film other then INTENSE. Thinking back on the experience so many things come to mind. One question I had before seeing the movie was: "How will watching a movie in aramaic and latin effect my experence?" And the answer to that, after talking with some friends and my roomate at a local pub afterward was: "You know, now that I think about it, I didn't even notice."
Mel Gibson squeezes the lemon, that is this story,. so tight, nothing is left over. This isn't a film so much as a piece of art, and Hollywood will be cringing on Wednesday when The Passion of the Christ opens in wide release. Cringing because nothing they have produced in a long time can come close to comparison with the brilliance of this film. The movie is extremely violent. I cringed at the sight of seeing Jesus flogged. I wanted to shout to the Roman Guards, "You idiots? What the hell do you think you are doing?" I wanted to run from this film at the same time that I couldn't pull my eyes away. Somehow, by looking away, by not wanting to see, a part of me felt like the Pharisee's of the film; the one's who called for the crucifixion of Jesus, but could not watch the entire beating he took. I thought, if I look away, I'm no better then they are. And in reality, you learn much about the Pharisee's as the cross is being hoisted into place on top of Golgotha.
I know the story of Jesus, was taught the Gospels in sunday school, but watching the movie, (being a student of film) I couldn't understand the motivation of Mel's pharisee's to crucify Jesus. It seemed false for almost 2/3 of the film. Just a contrivance, a plot device, a catalyst to give purpose to the violence. But as Jesus hung from the cross, and the pharisee's watch him suffer, their motivation becomes abundantly clear. With a smile, they proclaim "Prove it. You say you are the messiah, son of God, prove it." Their whole intention was to put this prophet, this man who appears to be more then a man, in a position so horrible he would either denounce himself, or prove he is what he says he is.
And who wouldn't? Who in their right mind, including me, would not choose to give up the crucifixion if they had the power too? But that's the point of the movie. I think I get what the christian faith is, now that i watched The Passion of the Christ. I don't think I could do what Jesus did. I don't think any of us could do it. And that's why Jesus did it. He didn't give into his human characteristics, nor did he give into our idea's of a powerful God. He just did what he promised he would, no matter what the consequences.
Whether this is fact, fiction, interpretation, mythical... it doesn't matter. When you walk out of this movie, you're not the same as when you walked in. It's not like the Matrix or Star Wars, where you say "That was one hell of a movie." Because it isn't. There is no Hollywood three act paradigm; no glorified Hollywood violence. Every punch, every slap, every cut hurts. As the lights came up at the end, (granted this was a biased audience I saw this with) the entire theatre was silent; stunned. No one moved. No one dared to breathe.
The cinematography was gorgeous. This is a technically brilliant film. The symbolic use of Satan walking amidst the events of the film really heightened the emotion. And the opening scene in the garden of Gethsemane is down right damn suspenseful. I don't know if I enjoyed the movie; I don't know if I could handle seeing it again. The one scene that hit me the hardest was while Jesus was being flogged by the Roman Guards, and his mother can only watch her child. She looks on with gut wrenching empathy, and if that wasn't enough, Mel gives us the reverse shot, and we see Jesus, looking back, his one good eye staring deep into her soul. And I thought to myself, if only briefly: "Is he looking at me?"
You can't compare this to any other Jesus film, not even "The Last Temptation of Christ." It would be foolish too. Where Last Temptation's Jesus was confused, and took a spiritual journey of discovery with the audience to self enlightenment , Mel Gibson's Jesus knows that no one will fully understand the purpose of his journey except him, and that's okay. If we did, then what's the point?
Finally, I have to give a small amount of praise to Mel and his crew. The make-up artists, camera crew, lighting crew, Mel and his writing partner, the producers, actors, even the guys who made the coffee every morning. Stand tall. It's beautiful to see art in cinema again. I think 2004 is the year we see a new movement in film, what with The Passion and The Dreamers. It's exciting, intense, powerful, provacative, gut wrenching, and above all... hopeful.
Go see this movie!!! You will be amazed!!!!!
If you post this, call me Riffdaddy.
Then we had this from Dirty Sanchez...
I've submitted a couple of times but never had anything used before. I got to see The theatrical fianl cut of The Passion of THe Christ tonight. I felt that I fell under the same category as most any other film geeks, but not to exclude any other group of people. I'm in my late 20's, I'm a white male, I dont go to church regularly, but I do feel that there is something else at work beyond what is right in front of us. That is as far as I will go with my own beliefs.
I really don't know how to start. I really cant compare it to any other film experience that I have had. The level of emotion that is sustained throughout the entire picture just drained me. From the time that the Romans got Him in the forest until the last scene, my body was in a clench. I didnt even realize it until the movie was over. My muscles were actually aching in certain spots, mainly the calfs and shoulders.
I dont want to go into detail too much as to give the surprises away, but Ill touch on a few. The flashbacks to Jesus talking to his disciples and his mother are placed perfectly to make the most impact, and the scene where Mary goes to Him when he is carrying his cross, well, that was the breaking point for me. Oh, man. There is another scene where Judas is under the bridge, pay close attention to the screen to the left of him. I'm not sure what it was, but it will probably keep me up tonight.
The only effects that really stood out to me were coloring James C's eyes brown in some of the scenes. It doesnt affect the power of any scene, dont get me wrong, but I did notice it, though.
the cinematography, sets and costumes were all terrific, but theres one area that I have to give extra credit to. That is the make up artist. I dont know where to start explaining how much it hurt me to see those crazy hooked whips digging into His back and chest and removing whole sections of skin. The same for the nail insertions.
I have to agree with what I have read in reviews so far. Granted, this is coming from soemone that paid close attention to the story presented in the film, but not an expert theologian, the Jewish community should have nothing to complain about. From what I took away from this film, the Jews were only responsible by chance or proximity or whatever you want to call it. There were just sa many Jews that were anywhere from opposed to horrified by what was happening to Jesus in this movie. These people were what would represent the majority of the society and not the people that were motivated by politics and/or powere. Even the governor didnt mean for His punishment to go as far as it did. I want to see it at least one more time to try and catch more of what happened in the non-physical scenes, but I will say this, no matter what religion you may or may not be, you should see this film. The fact that this is based on something that actually happened will dig that much deeper in to you if you keep it in mind while you are watching this. Thanks for the site guys!!! If you decide to use this, call me dirty sanchez.