Thursday, September 28, 2006

Some notes about Gibson's The Passion

Some notes I made about Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, that I made when I first saw it.

I enjoyed the way it was made, the superb photography, the excellent direction, the amazing cast of unknown faces - most of them continental rather than US in origin - the curiosity of having them speak in the original languages (it's not often you hear Latin spoke!), some of the individual scenes - the healing of Malchus' ear is one that is really affecting.

I didn't enjoy the excess of the lashings, which go on and on and on, until they blunt your sense of horror at what's happening, and you want to say - Enough...this is a movie, not a reality.
Equally the journey up the hill to Golgotha goes on and on and on... and has the same effect on the audience. People have said Gibson, as a Catholic, has based this on the 14 stations of the cross - I didn't think it was quite as pointed as that, but it's a long time since I went round the stations.

I found it odd as to what was left out: John has his feet washed but not Peter, who was surely a more dramatic actor in that incident. Judas' suicide is given prolonged treatment, but who he is and why he's doing this isn't explained. People coming to this movie who are unfamiliar with the Jesus story will be quite puzzled by some of what goes on....there's no back story to a lot of it, and the flash backs we do get are rather random. Even the resurrection looks like another flashback until you notice, if you do, the nail hole in his hand.

I 'enjoyed' it more than I thought I would, but mostly from an aesthetic side. It moved me in places, but more in small ways than large. Jesus' suffering became over the top because one of the lessons of drama, as Gibson ought to know, that less is more. As for it being violent; well, Gibson himself has appeared in movies that are just as violent as this. The only difference is that they aren't about a revered figure....
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