Our teacher in religion, who also is a priest and with a doctorate in teology, said we should see it if we wanted and then we could talk about it in class. We haven't had class yet, so I might bring this up again later, but I wanted to talk about it now anyway. Firstly, something within me didn't like this movie. It wasn't the violence, the religiousness, the Mel Gibson, I can't put my finger on what. But aside from this instinctive reaction, there was a lot to like and hate.
As a means for learning, it's bliming. The character of Satan (played by a woman for all intents and purposes) wanders around in the different scenes, seen by no one but Jesus, eternally present. The part of Christianity that Gibson belongs to believes that, simply put, Jesus was the bait with which Satan was defeated. Satan thought that he was winning, driving people to kill the son of God, but when Jesus was dead Satan realized he had lost, that because Jesus died for the sins of mankind he would never have much power over them again. This is illustrated beautifully in the movie. There is also the theory of the angry god, the god that must take all his rage out on his son to be able to forgive mankind, thus Jesus inhuman suffering. I would assume Gibson believes this also, otherwise how would he justify the sheer amount of violence. Then there is the belief in the strong connection between Jesus and Maria, that the holy mother would have shared some supernatural bond with him, a belief especially nurtured in the Catholic church. The portrayal of Judas is also interesting, with his regret and eventual madness, as opposed to the other theory of Jesus having his betray him to bring about the passion and his release from his human body.
Artistically, it's rather well thought out. The set is beautiful, costumes feel natural. Some things feel exaggerated, such as weather effects and a lot of slow-motion shots. And for some reason I'm bothered by the fact that Jesus is so handsome. It makes me think of animal rights and the fact that some people only think we should save the cute animals and forget the rest. Anyway. The movie begins in the garden where Jesus is betrayed by Judas, where we also see Satan for the first time, and "necessary information" is then given as flashbacks along the way. There is a specifially fantastic sequence when Jesus is standing on the hill where they will nail him to the cross. The screen cuts to when Jesus was having dinner with his apprentices, where a small package is carried to the table, and the cloth wrapping thrown aside to reveal the bread. In the next moment you see the soldiers tear the clothes off Jesus' body.
Some have complained about the fact that they speak Arameic, the language that Jesus was supposed to have spoken. I thought it was a detail that greatly added to the realism, which is needed, since the reasonable part of my mind whines about some things that feel wrong, such as how could Jesus possible carry the damned cross when the other guy who comes in, who hasn't had the skin whipped from his body, can hardly walk with it. Then there is clear antisemitism here and there. Rivalery between Christianity and Judism may be unavoidable, but if Gibson want people to take him seriously, he may need to take them seriously. I doubt Jesus said anything about jews being bad.
As for the violence, I can't help but wonder how possible it is, how much a real human being could take. And also whether it is a part of the legend that Jesus could take much more than anyone else. Wasn't he supposed to be human also? The only part I couldn't bear to watch was when they actually nailed him to the cross. More the sound than the imagery, I imagine.
All in all, worth watching if you're interested in the religious aspects, and I believe more to be seen as symbolic than litteral, even if Gibson probably wouldn't agree.
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