holy hand grenade

I think of all the reviews I've seen of Gibson's Passion, the best one is by Moriarty at AICN, because he goes to the heart of the question that I have about this film: What's in it for me?

As with any spiritual story told with real fervor and fuelled by belief, there is value here. No matter what you believe about the divine nature of Jesus Christ, he was definitely martyred, and since all we see in this film is that moment � his torture and eventual death � whatever message the film carries must be taken from only what�s shown to us. The notion of accepting such brutal punishment in order to pass grace on to the rest of the world seems impossible to understand for many of us, and this film makes it abundantly clear that this was no easy choice for Jesus to make. If viewed as part of a larger context, this could make an important point.

That one word is central, I think, to understanding why THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST ultimately fails as great cinema: context. There is none.
For someone walking into this film with no special knowledge of the Gospels or history or the way the Bible was written and why, this film offers no context, no greater explanation of what it�s all supposed to be about.

Frankly the political debate about the film is the only context it has - whether it is anti-semitic or not, whether it is historical or not, whether it's really a brilliant prosletyzation tool aimed at Protestants by an extreme Catholic sect, etc. But as a passion play, it really doesn't seem to offer me, a non-Catholic non-Jewish viewer, anything in the way of an actual cinematic experience, other than the promise of some bloody torture scenes.

The prophet Jesus is an important figure to me, but the gap between my concept of Jesus and the mainstream Jesus of the WASP heartland here in Texas is so vast, that it's hard to find any point of commonality that might stimulate my theological curiosity. I can't relate James Cavesiel to my beloved Isa Nabi AS. It might as well be a film about Mad Max, or Brian the Messiah. Even Moriarty, who at least has the requisite Christian cultural background to draw from, finds this Jesus a stranger:

. Give me a Jesus I recognize, a Jesus who did more than suffer. There is a whole world of human experience Gibson�s movie misses, and that tunnel vision keeps the movie from reaching the heaven it so desperate strives for.

I might rent it.

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