I went to Passion last Sunday when a Methodist neighbor invited me. His church had bought out a showing with the apparent hope of converting a few Mormons to "real Christianity". This allowed them to hand out a lot of literature, etc. I was good for a free movie and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I thought the film was good in some respects but very bad in others. Of course it was all done very realistically with good actors. The focus was entirely on the torture and death of Jesus with only the smallest tidbits of his life and resurrection. I've never been able to see anything spiritual about a man being tortured to death, and this film only reinforced that perception. It seemed like the Life of Jesus with all the spiritual stuff removed! The trip from the court to Golgotha took what seemed an eternity. As if the New Testament account wasn't enough, they threw in lots of extra little acts of torture. I had to roll my eyes a lot.

But that wasn't what I found most "bad" about the movie. First, it suffered from the same problem as every other Jesus film I've seen: Jesus is never portrayed as a realistic character. He says all the familiar words, but they're said in a soft voice with no emotion, yet everyone is listening with baited breath. That just doesn't work. The words are profound because they're familiar to us. To become famous they needed a good original oration. I don't picture Jesus as a quiet, boring guy with a few profound things in his head, but that's how he's always portrayed. The only time in the entire film that they made him human was a short flashback (with no spiritual content) where he was teasing his mother while building a table.

Next, the film completely failed to make a persuasive case for why anybody wanted Jesus dead. The Jesus portrayed in the film would have been dismissed as a crank by everyone (and was by Pilot, Herod, and others). The only thing even remotely offensive was Jesus quietly admitting to a couple heresies (never loud enough for the "offended" crowd to even hear him). So the whole plot of the story made no sense. I realize that we're already supposed to know about Jesus cleansing the temple, etc., but the Jesus character in Gibson's movie didn't fit that role at all (and there was never a flashback to that).

There were other odd things about the movie. There was a devil character that kept popping up in a cloak (I think a woman, but I was never sure). Her purpose was never made clear (to encourage the death of Jesus, or prevent it?). Then there was mother Mary and her entourage (Mary M & John). They were always following along trying to get close to Jesus through his ordeal, always shedding a tear but perfectly solemn--totally unrealistic to say the least. I thought these repetitive scenes would never end. It was a relief when the movie was finally over and I could get out of the theater and do something useful. The film didn't move me at all. It was so boring I almost fell asleep a couple times.

Well there you have it, Doubting Thomas’ review of the Passion.

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