I figure, since its all the rage these days, I will post a few of my thoughts on the film that has everyone talking. Don't expect them to have any amount of cohesion or be of any real intellectual value.
Amidst cries of anti-Semitism, I believe Gibson provided a fair view of last brutal hours in the life of Yeshua Ha-Nostri, son of God. He drew from different parts of the four Gospels and came out with a relative balance.
The story involves a Jew who tried to replace the established Temple of Yershalaim and center a reformed religion around him as the Messiah, the centerpiece. This was understandably greeted with horror and malice from the Temple's hierarchy. The fallacy that the Jews "were Christ-killers
" involves a purposeful misinterpretation of the Scripture and Yeshua's teaching: Yeshua was made a man and came to Earth in order to suffer and die for our sins. No ethnicity, no single person, no priest, no procurator, no executioner killed Yeshua; he died by his Father's will to fulfill prophecy, and with our sins we all aided in killing him. Some Christian churches have historically been guilty placing Jews at fault for the death of Yeshua, but in teaching that, they violated their own beliefs.
I am not a terribly religious person, but I respect religion for its basal function: faith
. Everyone needs something to have faith in. I am of a Catholic background and have countless credit hours in religious studies; I thought the film did better justice than any other Scripture-based Hollywood production I have seen. The overly-pious and sometimes overly full of crap
Hollywood biblical epics of the 1950s and 1960s (e.g. the Ten Commandments
, The Gospel According to St. Matthew
) were too superficial and the religious films of the 1970's (e.g. Jesus of Nazareth
, Last Temptation of Christ
) were too much of a stretch in most instances.
I do have a few complaints: without a measure of knowledge of Christian scripture, one is completely lost with the film. For someone that has had very little contact with religion of any kind, the end of the film leaves them full of questions. The ride home will be spent condensing the general story of the Gospels into a 15 minute summary. But perhaps this was Gibson's initial intent; to make people talk and to think.
Another complaint is the Hollywood-y type things present in the film; e.g.: the repeated presence of Satan and the laughable portrayal of Hell; demons disguised as children attacking Judas and a tear from God that sparks an earthquake. Perhaps I'm being a bit picky, but I think it would have been just as good without those things. I understand that Satan was following Yeshua around "like a lion" (thanks Vicki), my complaint is the WAY he is portrayed; the cheesy Hollywood-esque manner in which he is shown.
The movie is brutally violent and though I've seen countless war films, I believe Gibson's film ranks ichiban
on my list of blood and gore. For some, entering the theatre with thoughts of piety and a set image of this event in their heads, the movie will leave them disturbed and perhaps even speechless for a while.
Mob mentality is played up as the Sanhedrin call for Yeshua's crucifixion in the court-yard of the Roman procurator. This is a common theme in poor societies across the world and across time itself; Greece, Rome, Medieval Europe, Revolutionary France, and New York City of the mid-19th century. To control the mob is to control the power of the people. This is in no way a sign of anti-semitism. And it is only reactionary to cry "hatemonger".
Over all, as an acquaintance of mine said in reference to this movie: this is one of the best films that I never want to see again. That is a good summary of my feelings. I will not go out of my way to see this movie again; one time is enough to leave the mark Gibson desired.