The Passion of the Christ
Produced by Icon Productions
Directed by Mel Gibson
Screenplay by Benedict Fitzgerald and Mel Gibson
Distributed by Newmarket Film Group
I recently posted a review of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ in my In the Dark section of our website (Chronicles-Magazine.org). I expressed my admiration for the film with reservations concerning its portrayal of Our Lord’s suffering at the hands of the Romans. Some have wondered about my ambivalence, so I will address it here.
In an otherwise fresh and moving portrayal of Jesus’ Passion, Gibson has spent an inordinate amount of time on its physical violence. The most glaring instance must be the excruciatingly slow 15 minutes spent on showing us Roman soldiers beating every inch of Jesus’ body with canes and metal-studded whips. When they are through, He looks like a slab of beef in an abattoir. By way of explanation, Gibson has said he wanted to push his audience “over the edge,” by which I take him to mean he wanted to shock them into identifying with the pain of Christ’s sacrifice. This did not work for me. Rather than aesthetically moving, I found the spectacle, after a few minutes, anaesthetically numbing. As it went on and on, I found myself asking if a man could survive such a beating,...