30 March 2009

Confession: I LIKED Passion of the Christ

The post I did the other day on Christianity, torture, and crucifixion got me thinking about Mel Gibson's snuff film, The Passion of the Christ.

My wife made me go with her to watch it when it was released a few years back. I wasn't keen, but I wasn't too unhappy. I was curious, and I went in with low expectations (Low expectations are key; with low enough expectations, you can go into the crappy Matthew Broderick Godzilla movie and come out not satisfied).

And it turned out that I quite liked it. Why?

First, there were no trailers or ads. I hate those, there were none, so I was happy. Production values were decent, so that's a plus, too.

But more importantly, by treating it not as a serious spiritual experience1 but as a dark comedy, I had a great time.

For instance, for those of you who haven't seen The Passion but have seen the Simpsons episode where Ned starts making hyper-realistic biblical films, it's EXACTLY like that. Completely hyperviolent. The devil is covered in hyper-creepy-crawly things. It's great fun.

When Pontius Pilate offered Barabas to the mob to try to get them to pardon Jesus and they all chose to kill Jesus anyway, he had this wonderful "what the hell are you idiots smoking?" look on his face that was comedy gold. Not as good as Biggus Dickus, but still good.

It was funny in a cute way when Jesus was having a flashback to making a tall modern table. His mom was so confused.

When the Roman soldiers where nailing Jesus to the cross, one soldier complained that the other was doing a crappy job, gave him the boot and took over. (Sounds like my mom.) Still funny.

And of course, the torture was fun, too.

I'm messed up. But it was great. I laughed out loud several times. The rest of the audience probably thought I was nuts.

And, because it was mainly a snuff film, despite the subject matter, there was hardly any religious content.

I would not protest too much if I had to see it again.

1 Some of my Alpha Course group members were discussing it and saying how "spiritually uplifting" it was. I'm messed up for thinking torture is funny, but they're even more messed up than me!

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At March 31, 2009 11:19 p.m., Blogger Tom Foss said...

What struck me about the movie, besides the ultraviolence (my responses to that went from cringing to laughing to disgust to complete numbness pretty quickly) was that it never gave us any reason whatsoever to feel sympathetic toward Jesus. We got very, very little of his life, no character development, and nothing to make his story compelling any more than if any other person were placed under the same brutal torture. The only reason you'd care about Jesus is if you came into the film caring about him.

That's terrible moviemaking; even in a series of films, it's bad form to assume that your audience already knows who your characters are and is emotionally attached to them. If the movie can't give me a reason to care about what happens to the cast without making me read the supplemental material, then it's not a very good movie.

As you said, there was very little religious content--in fact, there was just very little content. The only real thing was the violence, certainly not any characterization, and consequently you could have replaced "Jesus" with "Joe Smith" and the story would be completely unchanged. It really was just a movie about torture.

At April 02, 2009 10:18 a.m., Blogger tina FCD said...

Wow, loved your take on it. I wish I could of been sitting there watching it with you guys. I would of snickered through it too. We're bad...

By the way, I haven't seen it yet.

At October 15, 2009 5:02 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the Roman soldiers where nailing Jesus to the cross, one soldier complained that the other was doing a crappy job, gave him the boot and took over.

So they didn't use the line:
"Would you mind crossing your legs, I've only got three nails."?
I'm disappointed.

- Knockgoats


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