So, on a cold winter's day I
grabbed a friend and made the drive to Barrington. I was scheduled
to view the film with over 4,000 church leaders representing all
50 states. Even though I knew the setup, I really had no idea what
to expect. I mean I know the story of Christ and the drama of his
final hours, but no amount of knowledge could ever have prepared
me for what I was about to experience -- save going back into time
and actually being there.
The movie begins by taking
you into the Garden of Gethsemane and thrusts you right in the
middle of Christ's anguish regarding God's plan. Having visited
the garden myself back in 1978 in broad daylight, it was hard to
capture the imposing environment it must have been for Christ and
his followers. Gibson nails it, as he does throughout this film.
Another example is the use of
original languages like Aramaic and Latin subtitled in English for
American audiences. Early on there was some discussion about not
going this route. I am so glad that Gibson and others held out for
this because it makes the movie. In much the same way that Kevin
Costner's "Dances with Wolves" was made by Indians speaking in
their native tongues, this movie captures a realistic edge by
giving your senses a fuller and richer experience by the many
nuances of the language.
Gibson uses a compelling
technique of layering throughout the film. These flashbacks
provide the filler information that gives meaning and direction to
the scene at hand. To those of you viewers who are familiar with
the story, you will have no trouble understanding where things are
going. For those of you who don't know the story very well, a
quick read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
might enhance your viewing experience before you take this film
Critics have alleged that the
film needed many more layers to give filmgoers an idea of why
Jesus was such a threat to the religious leaders and possibly to
Rome. I am not a film critic, but I humbly disagree with those
Gibson seems to have one
major theme he wanted to get across: the amazing, incredible,
overwhelming price that Christ actually paid to redeem sinners,
once for all time! You will leave the theater fully convinced that
Gibson hit his mark!
Make no mistake. This is a
very hard film to watch. I saw it over a month ago, and I am still
troubled by it and I might be for the rest of my life. This is a
brutal picture, but once again, it is not gratuitous violence.
Gibson simply held true to the Scriptures and put on the screen
what he and you and I can read in the Scriptures. What they did to
Jesus was not pretty, and it is not covered up in this movie.
Gibson felt it was important for the viewer to experience the pain
-- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual -- every step of the
As I watched this film, I
felt much the same way I did while I watched the first 20 minutes
of "Saving Private Ryan," the World War II epic. I just wanted the
scene to go away or hurry up and get over with. Christ probably
wished the same thing, but the torture continued almost endlessly.
You not only witness the film
as an onlooker, you also see it through the eyes of Christ's
mother, Mary. If you are a nurturing personality type or someone
with a deeply honed motherly intuition, this movie will touch you
deeply. Some of the layering scenes regarding Christ's
relationship with his mother are so richly conceived that I came
away with a much more real understanding of Christ's earthly
existence. I also could not and cannot imagine what this whole
experience was like for her. Perhaps no one in history has gone
through a more hellish experience than what she went through
watching her son die.
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The movie takes you through
the final 12 hours of Christ's life on earth. It demonstrates the
attitudes of the Sanhedrin, the religious leaders of that time,
and of Roman government officials who disdained serving a motley
rabble on the extreme periphery of the Roman Empire. The casting
of this film was outstanding and nothing short of amazing. Those
picked to play the parts of Pontius Pilate and his wife were
extremely compelling characters. You got a real sense of the
tensions and anguish they were going through during this whole
experience. And even though many have called Pilate a monster for
not standing up to the pressure and to the crowd, you almost felt
sorry for him in this depiction.
Those who played Peter, John
and Mary Magdalene were also top-drawer. They did not try to be
bigger than the characters; they simply let the holy words dictate
the direction. They have an ability to draw you into their roles
and keep you interested as you delve deeper.
But, you may not know that
Jim Caviezel, who plays the role of Jesus, is the one who totally
captivates your attention. You are drawn to him. He does nothing
to distract your attention from Christ as the central character.
His commanding performance is surreal and has other-dimension
power behind it. He is captivating beyond the direction and
production of the film. He makes this film powerful and gives it a
truly gripping encounter with the message.
This movie is not for the
faint of heart. It is not for those with weak stomachs or
constitutions. It is so horrific at times, I couldn't even watch.
It is said that with more knowledge comes more responsibility. I
didn't want any more knowledge. I can't even live up to the
responsibility I have now.
This film helps us grasp the enormity of God's plan for the
universe. It helps us to understand that ever since man separated
himself from God, God has wanted to reconcile us back to him. As
difficult as the movie is to watch, it demonstrates a hope that we
can get right with the Messiah. That as unworthy as we are, our
God cares for us, loves us and wants to have a close relationship
with us. Isn't it strange that God would use Mr. Lethal Weapon,
Mel Gibson, to get that message across?
1. The LDN does NOT pay me to
see movies or to write reviews on them. I just felt like I had to
write this one. Whether you are a churchgoer or not, whether you
are a Christian or not, I hope you will see this film. It helps
answer life's fundamental question, "Is there a God and is he
mindful of me?" I think you will find what I and millions of
others have foundů a resounding YES!
If you would like to see this film and don't have the means to,
please send an
e-mail to LDN, and we'll try to make it happen for you.
"The Passion of the Christ" opens in
Lincoln today. It is rated R and is 125 minutes long. Starring:
James Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Rosalinda Celentano, Sergio
Rubini, Maia Morgenstern. This film tells the story of the last 12
hours in the life of Jesus (portrayed by Caviezel), on the day of
his crucifixion in Jerusalem.
This film's script is based upon
several sources, including the diaries of St. Anne Catherine
Emmerich (1774-1824) as collected in the book "The Dolorous
Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ," "The Mystical City of God" by
St. Mary of Agreda and the New Testament books of John, Luke, Mark
Wednesday-Saturday: 1:15 p.m., 4:15
p.m., 7 p.m., 9:45 p.m.
Sunday: 1:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 7 p.m.
Monday and Tuesday: 4:15 p.m., 7 p.m.