Midnight Rantings

Tired rantings in a tired world.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Passion

We saw the The Passion of the Christ last night. By now everyone has commented on the movie. I am going to add my $0.02. After all, what's the use of having one's own blog, if not to satisfy one's narcissism.

The movie was Mel Gibson's best movie. Cinematography was excellent. One felt the streets of Jerusalem, the court of Pilate and the Temple. By having the actors speak the local dialects of the era, one was transported. Authenticity was added. Anyone familiar with the Passion would not need the subtitles.

Jesus, played by Jim Caviezel, was excellent. One got the sensation that his deity grew as the movie progressed. Caviezel gives Jesus a quiet strength. Once he has resigned himself to his burden, he goes about it with a quiet determination.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is played with hauntingly by Maia Morgentstern. The viewer can see the love that Mary has for her son. She knows he is special and wills her strength to him. The most touching scene involves her flashback to Jesus as a young child. Any parent seeing that scene could not help but be moved to tears.

Mary Magdelene is a small role. Although Monica Belluci is on the screen often, she has few lines. Not much to say. She seems to be more for eye candy.

Pontius Pilate, played by Hristo Naumov Shopov, is one of the most sympathetic characters in the movie. The man is clearly caught between a rock and a hard place. He may think Jesus has committed a small crime, but nothing warranting crucifixion. He pleads with the Jews to not kill Jesus. He finally washes his hands and says that he is innocent of this man's blood.

Caiphas, played by Mattia Sbragia, is the obvious antagonist. He is the one person mainly responsible for the Passion of Jesus Christ. He is portrayed in a poor light, since he is determined to have Jesus executed.

Judas, played by Luca Lionello, is the one poor soul of the whole movie. Much has been said about Judas. In Mel Gibson's interpretation, he is the saddest one. If he had only asked Jesus for forgiveness, he would not have been tormented.

After I first viewed the movie, I felt that I could not watch it ever again. The movie, although gruesome, showed me for my human failings. That is the hardest part. The scourging is terrible, but the knowledge that someone loved me enough to go through that is the worst. How can I live up to that standard? The answer is I cannot. I should try, but I am not God nor the Son. I can never match the sacrifice Jesus did. Our inequities are too much to bear and that is the message of the movie.

Is the movie anti-semitic? I can see how a Jew might believe so. The Jewish crowd screams for Jesus' death, the antagonist is Jewish, but the movie that I saw is not anti-semitic. Anyone familiar with the Gospels knows what role the Jews played in the Passion of Christ. The Jews are all of us. We killed Jesus because of our sin. Unfortunately, many Jewish folks have been offended. The effect is similar to Civil War movies and how they portray the South.

Everyone should see the movie once. It is powerful. Hopefully, the religious debate will go on for years.