Passion from the other side of the fence

Published: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 10:50 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 10:50 a.m.

First off, I am a professed atheist, and the first inklings that Mel Gibson would be making a movie about Jesus irked my non-believing sensibilities. But, everyone has their rights to expression and belief, so I put all preconception on the back burner until I saw the film for myself.

Also, I must say that I was brought up in a Christian household, spending the first 12 years of my education in Christian schools, so the particulars of this story are ingrained very deeply into my memory.

When the film opened up in the garden of Gethsemane, I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. In the Bible, Jesus only keeps going (in his first incarnation) for another five or six pages. How do they expect to fill a respectable two hours with that tiny bit of material?

Answer: flashbacks and Gibson-inspired add-ins.

I read the Bible, and Satan (or the character I'm sure everyone assumed was Satan) is nowhere near the undertakings of Jesus' death. Yet, there he is in the first scene with a snake coming out of his pants.

No mention was made of demonic children chasing Judas around Jerusalem until he broke down like a madman. But there they were - large as life on the silver screen.

Simply to fill the time requirements, much of the dialogue for the film had to be stretched to its absolute limit, and far, far beyond.

Case in point: One of the disciples, while leading Mary to watch her son carry his cross, must have said "Mother" half a dozen times over the course of a good 10 minutes.

These were not the only problems in Mel's religious-statement-of-a-film.

Really, can anyone explain to me why Jesus and the leader of the Pharisees were played by an Italian and Frenchman? If Mel wanted to shoot the entire thing in Aramaic and Latin to be true to form, couldn't he have found an actual Iraeli to play the parts?

Now, putting aside atheism for a second, I began to wonder at the choices Mel made for the flashback scenes. As if his pious attempt at a christ movie didn't go far enough, it seemed as though he was highlighting what he determined were Jesus's most important words.

I think, if I were a Christian, that would offend me. Plenty of opportunity existed to connect the film to any other of the events in Jesus's life, but good ol' Mel is telling you which ones are worth seeing.

But enough of the nitpicking, let's look at the whole package.

This movie sucks.

Yep, I said it.

Honestly, I don't care if it moves you, connects you with your god in some great way or anything like that: you can't honestly admit that this is a good film. Most of it is a cheap attempt at killing time until the next Biblical quote is inserted. The rest is one man doing one thing: playing the part of a man in pain.

I can wince and moan if you pay me a couple million and stick my face in a


So, if you're at all interested in this film, make sure you're extremely religious or morbidly obsessed with violence. If not, wait and make it a Blockbuster night.

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