Monday, April 05, 2004

Blood and guts

Today I went to see "The Passion of the Christ." I went with my new friend because she begged me to go because she wanted to see it and didn't want to see such a gruesome movie by her lonesome. I bitched and moaned a little bit because I wasn't all that keen on watching a man get beaten withing a couple inhces of his life, paraded through an angy rock-throwing mob, get crucified and then die painfully from exposure. I have to admit though, that I was curious. I had read and heard so much about the movie that I partly went to see what all the fuss was about.

My reaction:

1) The opening scene where Jesus is praying to god to allow him to not be tortured and killed was quite moving. It would have been a great final scene in a serious movie about the life of the man. Although Satan with a worm crawling out and back into his nose was superfluous. I guess that way people know for sure that the androgynous evil-looking fellow is either the prince of darkness or one of the guys from Jackass.

2) Antisemitism? Hmmm...I guess I did notice that all the guys that wanted Jesus dead had the stereotypical faciual features of what ignorant people would call "Jewish" and Jesus and Mary had nice European aquiline features. The Romans also looked very...uh...Roman. The actor that played Pontius Pilate looked like one of those busts of Julius Caesar. Maybe it was done to avoid confusion.

3) Best gory special effect: When Jesus was getting the bejesus whacked out of him by the cat o' nine tails one of the whips wrapped around his torso and the hooks got stuck in his flesh. When the Roman soldier yanked the hooks out flesh flew off the body like scales when you are cleaning a fish. I have to give a big shout out to the boys at Industrial Light and Magic for that one.

4) Another nice gory touch was when we were shown the point of a nail that has gone through the hand of Jesus and subsequently through the wood of the cross. Dripping off that nail and onto the ground? You got it: blood.

5) The movie was well-directed, I have to admit. It was genius in its manipulation of my emotions. Even as I went in ready to dismiss the movie I couldn't avoid being jolted by such horribly violent acts upon a peaceful person. This also brings about the question is it helpful to make the most violent movie ever about the man called the prince of peace?

6) Braveheart moment of the movie: The scene where guys are preparing to stone Magdalene. The camera is at ground level. We see a row of men with rocks. A sandle-clad foot thumps into the ground. Dust rises and settles. We see a hand draw a line in the sand. The hand then draws a symbol in the sand. The men all drop their stones since none of them is without sin. Man, that was a funny scene. I never realized that Jesus was such a stud.

7) Jesus invents the dinner table: In a flashback we see Jesus show his mother a table that is taller than normal. She is playfully aghast. How can one eat at such a tall table?! He then explains he has yet to build the taller-than-normal chairs. They both laugh. Fucking stupid.

8) Part I actually liked: A couple of the Roman soldiers involved in the crucifixion were surprisingly worthy of empathy. They go from pitying a man's suffering, to fear of what he may be to awe of what he is. Their reactions are paced well.

9) Overt symbolism: Remember the two criminals that are crucified along with Jesus? Like any good mythology one is sympathetic and one is scornful. The sympathetic one is promised that he will join Jesus in paradise (how lucky is that, to be crucified the same day as Jesus? Just be supportive and, boom! you're in heaven for all eternity.) and the scornful one gets his eye pecked out by a crow. Apparently his attitude is wrong. That made me laugh.

10) Over the top message of the movie: Mary staring into the camera as she holds the dead body of her son. She just stares and stares and stares at the audience as the camera pulls back. She is saying "how can you not be a good bible thumping Christian after watching this two-hour snuff film?"

11) I swear when Jesus rises from the dead you can see his butt for just a split second. Showing Adam's ass or Eve's boobies is legitimate since that's the way they were. Any good Christian would rise from the dead in suitably conservative attire.

11) I have to wonder what will give this movie a long video life, the supposed message or the awesome violence? I can picture this movie being shown in bible study classes and S & M clubs.

12) My overall reaction? A totally unnecessary movie. Either you believe or you don't, depends on your brain or how you was raised or a little bit of both according to recent studies.

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