The Passion of the Christ Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
If there was a vote for the most difficult historical figure to recreate in drama, Jesus Christ must be at the top of the list. After all, is there any other figure in history that so many people claim to have a personal relationship with? Or, is there any one person who is held in more contempt? His named is called out as the one who is responsible for everything from wars to the injury of one’s thumb by a hammer. For many, Jesus Christ is nothing more than a blurted expletive. But for even more, He is their Savior.
Obviously, for Mel Gibson, Jesus is revered, although I must admit that previous to the tremendous buzz generated by this movie, I had no idea Gibson’s religious values were this focused. Yet, from his back pocket, he has placed $25 million on the table to tell the world who Jesus is. Or at least, who Jesus is from Gibson’s perspective.
James Caviezel is the man whom the director determined to have the ?penetrating eyes and transparent expressions [able] to convey the essence of love and compassion in utter silence?—traits Gibson felt were essential in his representation of Deity.
In every moment on screen, this little-known actor lives up to this measure. It’s only unfortunate the script, which is spoken in Amharic and Latin with English subtitles, doesn’t allow more time for the audience to appreciate his portrayal of Christ in less intense circumstances. Gibson has chosen to open the film with the Savior’s atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane. From there, we move through to the judgments of Caiphas (Mattia Sbragia), Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov), Herod, and back to Pilate who dismisses the matter into the hands of the Jewish leaders and, as portrayed in this film, the bloodthirsty Roman soldiers.
In fact, the Romans should temper the many accusations of anti-Semitism that have been targeted toward this film. While the Jewish leaders are certainly his accusers, Caesar’s men are eager and revel in the process and fulfillment of Christ’s scourging and execution. The myriad of scenes depicting bloody torture, tearing flesh, and punctured hands and feet, are some of the most brutal film moments I’ve seen. The intensity is increased when all of this torment is directed to one individual.
A tremendous artistic achievement, Gibson uses a variety of techniques to help us connect with his central character. The arduous journey from the garden to Golgotha is interrupted occasionally with flashbacks from Christ’s three-year ministry. These moments provide a much-needed respite from the intense anguish that flows from the screen for the majority of this movie. The musical score and careful use of lighting further enhance the mood and tone, as does the inclusion of an androgynous Satan (a bald woman plays the role with a male voice).
But is this a film to for the entire family? As a believer, I felt a powerful personal connection with the on-screen images. However, I would not want my youngest pre-teen children to see the film. Just as I could understand the horrors of war prior to seeing Saving Private Ryan, it’s not necessary to subject yourself to one man’s visual interpretation of the Bible in order to fully appreciate or be worthy of Christ’s sacrifice.
I make this comment because this column is for the purpose of helping parents know what films are appropriate for their children. Obviously, it is up to you to determine if this or any other film merits being embedded into the young minds you are responsible for. But make this decision carefully. Remember, this is just a movie. It’s a finely produced movie, but it’s no replacement for the book upon which it’s based. Your children’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not dependent on their viewing of this or any other film. And for all the positive potential this movie holds, it may have the opposite effect on a young mind not yet ready for its visual intensity.Starring Mel Gibson, James Caviezel. Running time: 124 minutes. Theatrical release February 25, 2004. Updated February 13, 2012
The Passion of the Christ Parents' Guide
How do artistic depictions of Christian or other religious figures differ from your own? Do you think artistic interpretation enhances or detracts from the spiritual nature of the depicted people or circumstances?
The most recent home video release of The Passion of the Christ movie is February 17, 2009. Here are some details…
DVD Release Date: 30 January 2007
Making up for any disappointment there may have been over the first, bare-bones DVD release of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, the 2-Disc Definitive Edition fleshes out the production in every conceivable way.
Disc One offers the theatrical cut of the movie as well as a re-cut version, and provides (for the original cut only) a filmmakers commentary (with Mel Gibson, Caleb Deschanel, and John Wright), a production commentary (with Stephen McEveety, Ted Rae and Keith Vanderlaan) and a theologian commentary (with MelGibson, Father William J. Fulco, Gerry Matatics, and Father John Bartunek), as well as a music commentary (with John Debney) on selected scenes.
Dics Two looks at all the behind the scenes aspects of the movie, with the following featurettes:
Menus - Drissi, By His Wounds we are Healed (the making of The Passion of the Christ), Intro & Script Evolution, Language Barriers, Finding Jerusalem, Artistic Inspiration, The Right Role, Evil Personified, Tailoring a perfect fit, The Director, Grace in Photography, Make up and Visual Effects, The Earthquake, The Crucifixion, Jim Surrerning, Breaking the Tension, Wrapping Production, The Cutting Room, The Score, Designing the Sound Effects, Guerilla Marketing, Spiritual Journey, Below the Line (a panel discussion), The Legacy, Paths of the Journey, On Language, Anno Domini, Crucifixion: Punishment in the Ancient World, and Through the Ages. There are also deleted scenes, art galleries and the theatrical trailer.
Audio tracks are available in Dolby Digital 5.1, with subtitles in English and Spanish.
BLU-RAY Notes: The Passion of the Christ
Release Date: 17 February 2009
The Passion of the Christ is now available on Blu-ray. Presented in widescreen, the two-disc set is authored on a dual-layer disc with 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio (Hebrew/Latin/Aramaic) and multi-language subtitles (including English). Along with the original theatrical version, there is also a re-cut version of the film, which features less violence. As well, there are an audio commentary with Mel Gibson (and various filmmakers and theologians), a music commentary with John Debney (selected scenes only) and an Enhanced Viewing Mode offering Biblical footnotes. Other extras include the Making Of The Passion of The Christ (a documentary),The Legacy (a historical and cultural look at the Crucifixion), a historical photo gallery and deleted scenes.
Related home video titles:
For Christian families looking for an alternative viewing choice with a lesser amount of violence, check our review of The Gospel of John, a theatrical movie that is also available on video. You can also look for The Greatest Story Ever Told on video.
DVD Notes: The Passion of the Christ: Definitive Edition