29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Life Changing Event, 6 Sept. 2004
Though largely told with recourse to distinct elements of Catholic theology, drawing on the richness of the faith, this film appeals first of all to the heart. For any Catholic, the suffering of Jesus is central to understanding one's own throughout the course of life, and all will readily admit that the Passion is glossed over at times, whether by attractive but misleading crosses or generalised classes of catechesis. Mel Gibson's film remorselessly expunges the failures of modern theological thought, which do indeed often seek to skirt around the pain, and once again re-centres the faith upon the meaning of suffering. It comes to us all, and mankind lacks the tools of heart as long as Christ is not understood. This film will help you understand.
There is a great deal of theological imagery which may confuse those without knowledge of the discipline, or perhaps more positively, encourage viewers to investigate personally. The scenes throughout are painful to watch, not for the content of blood alone, but the journey one is taking with Christ. It is a film like no other in that truly can one make a pilgrimage while watching it, and you must be prepared for the emotional exhaustion if devout and devoted. It will grant a new dimension to any ascetic Catholic and those keen to get to the heart of Christianity.
The supposed anti-Semitic bent of the film is non-existent, but one must be careful to define what such a remark is. This film demonises only the action of a group, not the group itself. The ideology of Christ Himself was to condemn the sin, not the sinner. As for guilt, the truthful Christian would claim it for himself more than against any Jew, Muslim or Hindu. It does not condemn anyone but the viewer's conscience, and offers the greatest of hopes too. The Roman soldiers administering the flagellation and execution are very much shown as brutal, cruel and sadistic men, but watch out for that look of conscience is one or two, and of course the Centurion Cornelius who eventually became a saint. Mary is portrayed excellently and in precisely the right way, as often her role is misunderstood by non-Catholics; Maia Morgenstern is magnificent and so, so dignified. Any mother will identify immediately with her, and they will find it particularly hard to watch at times. Jim Caviezel is a beautiful, luminescent Christ - loving, gentle, yet instinctively powerful. His face shows remarkable emotional dexterity, and helps him to play the role in a most inspired way.
It is a story of love in the most noble and harrowing of senses. One cannot, if open to the idea this man lived and died for us all, watch this film without feeling some tug on the heart. It questions you, pains you, tests you and calls you. How it affects the Christian will depend upon their willingness to understand, whereas the casual viewer, interested but non committed, is invited to watch something which may just change their life. The message is clear, the plea heartfelt, the reason for you alone. He is all yours as much as He is all mine.