Projections - Movie Reviews
The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ
Starring Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci,
Mattia Sbragia, Hristo Naumov Shopov, Claudia Gerini

The ultimate sacrifice of a man believed by many to be the Son of God is the focus of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ which has generated a considerable amount of publicity for it's potential to upset some Jewish groups. This vivid account of the hours leading to the death on a cross is a visceral experience that may work for those who profess the traditional Catholic faith like Gibson in time for the start of the Lenten season.

The film is in Aramaic and Latin with subtitles and is intended for mature audiences, hence the ® rating. The threshold of any filmgoer will be tested to a degree as the unrelenting brutality endured by the actor James Caviezel as Jesus the Nazorean feels like its occurring in real time.

The reliable, soft-spoken actor James Caviezel (Frequency) turns out to be a worthy choice of Gibson's consistently graphic, blood-drenching cinema. The beautiful Italian actress Monica Bellucci (Malena, Irreversible) manifest the horror of Jesus' ordeal through her Mary Magdalene, as well as the surprising subtle emotional power of Romanian actress Maia Morgenstern as Mary, Jesus' mother.

The opening has Jesus praying in a lush garden while his twelve disciples are asleep. Satan comes across with the sly machinations of a Gollum (The Lord of The Rings) knowing what's precious to him. Jesus doesn't succumb to it, but the bearded man who ministered in Galilee becomes the object of vicious sadistic Roman guards.

A scourging with a crown of thorns is part of the agony of death to the one accused of being the “King of the Jews.” In Jerusalem, Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, a leading Roman official, who doesn't have a case against him. But, he is impelled to acquiesce to angry Jewish leaders who want him to be crucified and instead of releasing Jesus, a man named Barabbas is liberated.

Gibson as co-writer follows the New Testament of the Bible, drawing from four accounts of the Passion a gruesome journey, comparable to the last hour of his exemplary (Braveheart). A little color to the proceedings may be perceived when it comes to the undoing of the traitorous Judas, the casual nature of the Roman soldiers, and a caring Claudia, who happens to be the wife of Pilate.

During the floggings, whippings, and beatings, there a few, short flashbacks to a carpenter's relations with Mary, and his followers, at the Last Supper. The painful, often slow-motion reality lashes back on screen as the battered Christ is helped by a Cyrean to carry the wooden cross. The excruciatingly extended Crucifixation has imbibed Roman soldiers having some difficulty in completing the torture. Those who have sat through all the torment and persecution may not comprehend how this deeply wounded individual keeps breathing.

The climactic departure in mid-afternoon is felt in an earthquake in all of Jerusalem, especially for Caiphas and Pilate. The intensity by Gibson may be ridiculed as pulp fiction by a few doubting Thomases with a conclusion of eternal life coming from a rock rolled back from a cave where the body of Jesus was entombed. Caviezel somehow manages to unveil a spirituality while his flesh becomes increasingly ripped and torn. The violent excess from an un-comprising Gibson is likely to linger long after The Passion of the Christ , but the harshness could also serve as a divine inspiration.

The Passion of the Christ

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