The Passion--A Dissenting View

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Yes, I saw it.

And I hadn't planned to blog on it. But I feel that I must to help those who are in the same place I am.

I deeply admire Mr. Gibson's devotion and his dedication to bringing this moving icon to life. I think it may serve as a devotional aid to a great many people. He may have blessed millions with his work.

However, I saw the film and was largely unmoved. I can't explain why (except perhaps I didn't associate the person on the screen with the Jesus I know and love.) I had no time to adjust to this person as Jesus, so this never meant for me what it meant for many others.

I was moved three times in the film--the scene where Mary runs to Jesus when He falls, the scene where she kisses Him, and the scenes of Simon the Cyrene.

Now to certain points with which I am in agreement--(1) the violence in the film was not "over the top" brutality, I rather think that it was a good representation of what the whole event might have been like; (2) I cannot see the supposed anti-semitism of the film. There was one particularly bad group of people who were Jewish, the rest of the lot didn't seem at all bad. Even some of the Romans seemed okay.

I know this film was a wonderful devotional exercise for Mr. Gibson. I am certain that it will lift many hearts to God. It lifted my own because I saw how much those who knew Him loved Him. But the depiction of His death did not inspire me to new heights of devotion. But I came out with the strong reassurance that God loves me.

Two points that I must share in the interest of full disclosure: When the devil and its baby-thing were wandering around the scourging scene I had to clap both hands over my mouth to avoid disturbing others with my laughter--it was so gothicky/bad-horror movie stuff. So too with the scene with Gesmas. And that swelling, manipulative, historical-movie/Ben-Hurry soundtrack was a real turn-off. I wonder what the film might have been like without it. It might be interesting to see.

But I don't write this to discourage anyone from going. I think everyone benefits from the experience of one man's intense and loving devotion. Everyone will take from it something different. I took from it God's tear, the rending of his own garments reflecting that of Caiaphas earlier. It was a lovely and powerful image.

So, go and see it. And do not be ashamed if it doesn't completely rock your devotional world. It is, after all, only a movie. And God's love for us and personal communication with us is far more powerful and more real than anything that might play out on a screen. God loves you--intensely, passionately, overwhelmingly. He sheds the same tear over one lost soul as He shed over His own dear Son.

God loves us into Eternity. And this may be one instrument by which He shows you His love.

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Hey, to each his own. I think your review was one of the best by someone who didn't particularly love the movie. You expressed your opinion without seeming overly critical. Good job.

Good review, interesting to read your reaction.

That was pretty bizarre with the raven.

I think the effect of the Satan w/baby scene depends on how one looks at it. The reason for it was not to add a pointlessly sinister aspect to the scourging, but rather to turn the most perfect, most beautiful thing in the world--the Madonna and Child--into a perversion. Satan often imitates beautiful things to lure us, and yet we discover there is something strangely awry, perverse. This perversion of the Madonna and Child deliberately appears just as the Roman guards flip Jesus over to scourge Him on his belly--after He has already been scourged nearly to death on His back. When He is turned over, we have some respite and assume the scourging is finished--and we are confronted with the unthinkable when they instead resume their lashes. The perversion of the Madonna and Child is supposed to represent that: the unthinkable, the very face of evil and perversion.

Dear Christine,

I understood the symbolism perfectly; however, it just didn't work for me. All it evinced from me was nearly a guffaw. I call this the "Antigone" factor. By that I mean that when there is unrelenting tragedy and intensity, piling one more thing on just overloads the circuits and tips the scales into the absurd. That's what happened for me. The unrelenting nature of the film up to that moment simply cascaded into making this scene absurd, and to my taste, utterly unnecessary.

Must more effective is the "blasted Earth" sequence at the very end when Satan realizes that his kingdom has been breached and all but taken away.

As with the Raven, this was just a touch over the top and caused more laughter than serious meditation on the symbolism (for me.)



The raven may have been over the top, true. I didn't see it that way because I had read that this was historically a problem (to put it mildly)for those crucified. Since the men were helpless, carrion birds could and did pluck out their eyes.
But I don't know the original source. The online source was an MD's discussion of crucifixion executions and how they "worked" medically.
The Satan and "Baby-thing" worked for me, too.
So, it could just be that I like B movies more?



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 5, 2004 9:54 PM.

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