The Passion of the Christ
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Newmarket Film Group

The Passion of the Christ is a visually powerful film focusing on Christís life from when Judas gives him up in the garden with a kiss. During this time the word ďpassionĒ meant suffering and no one has portrayed Christís suffering as graphically as Mel Gibson in this film.

It is not for everyone. It certainly is not for younger members of your family and may prove to be too much for some elderly members as well. The R-rating is based solely on the violence that those in power inflicted on Christ. Gibson has been criticized for taking this graphic violence to the extreme, but if his purpose was to show how much Christ suffered for humankind, he has succeeded. You canít help wondering how one man could have endured so much for his belief and was still able to forgive those responsible for his torture. In this sense the film is incredibly heroic.

Gibson has also been criticized for showing so few lighter moments in Christís life. Yet these short flashbacks into Christís youth and his ministry are powerfully imbedded in the viewers mind because they are so well woven into the suffering. Out of the darkness of Christís crucifixion came these flashes of light like stars newly discovered in the night. Days after viewing the film, it is these brief flashbacks of Jesus the carpenter, the loving son of Mary, the compassionate minister to all those who sought something higher through him that are etched in our thoughts. They help us understand how heroic his sacrifice was.

Some critics of the film see an anti-Semitic slant. But if there is a slant geared toward answering the question, ďWho killed Jesus?Ē it appears to be directed at the rich and powerful elite of both temple and state and more subtly directed at everyone having a share in Christís suffering.

The bottom line is that The Passion of the Christ is a movie, a work of art, and, like so many works of art in literature, painting, sculpture and music, reflects some of the artistís passion for the subject matter. Gibsonís inclusion of a character representing evil, for example, has a tone that is uniquely Gibson as is Christís heroic response to this evil.

Obviously this movie impressed me, but I can understand much of the controversy and criticism surrounding it. My 87-year-old Catholic mother chose not to see the film because she felt the graphic violence portrayed would be too hard on her heart. If you feel youíd be better off not seeing this film, then you should follow your feelings; exercise your freewill. If, however, there is something about the movie that calls to you, you should answer the call. Who knows, you might discover a different kind of hero Ė a new man.

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