Dubious ‘Passion’

Feb 262004

By: Aaron Pinsker


“The Passion of the Christ” is an intense and rather brutal

account of the last 12 hours of Christ’s life. I was not sure what

to expect going into this movie, I knew it was going to be bloody

and violent but with all the talk about it, all the rave reviews

from Christian leaders, I expected to come out of it with some

insight into what made Jesus such a wonderful man, and why he is

believed by so many to be the Son of God. Instead, I came out of

the movie confused and dismayed. Confused by what exactly director

Mel Gibson was trying to get across in this movie and dismayed by

not only the shear brutality of the images but also by the

polarization it created between Jesus, his followers and everyone


My confusion stemmed mostly from trying to figure out what kind

of movie Gibson was attempting to make. Was it his goal to create a

movie that would only have an impact on those who believe in Jesus

or was it his goal to create something that would impact any person

who saw the images on the screen? If it was the former, I suspect

the movie will succeed tremendously – as watching any person you

love being beaten to death will have a profound impact on you.

However, if it is the latter, the movie completely missed the mark

and degenerated into nothing more than a bloody and gruesome romp

of the torture and eventual death of a man.

As a non-Christian, I feel this movie did not affect me in the

way Gibson intended it. From my understanding, Gibson was trying to

portray what Christ went through to die for all of our sins and to

use this to show why he was such a great man. I felt Gibson chose

to go for the shock value over any real substance. I sat through an

hour and a half of the most violent images I have ever seen on a

movie screen and did not come out feeling at all touched or moved.

Instead of focusing on what made Jesus such an incredible man and

what ultimately proved him to be the Christ (according to Biblical

texts), the movie focused on the blood and gore. But can I really

fault a movie in not doing what I think it should have done? No, I

can’t. If this was Gibson’s intent, to simply go for the shock over

the substance, then it seems that I can’t fault the movie. I can

simply be confused and question the motives of the filmmaker.

I am not, however, confused with one very disturbing aspect of

“The Passion,” a theme that ran throughout the movie of “us” versus

“them” – Jesus and his followers against the world. There have been

endless talks of the possible anti-Semitic nature of this movie,

and while it is there, what bothers me more than this, is that the

movie isn’t just anti-Semitic – it is anti-non-believers. While the

Jewish High Priests are shown as bloodthirsty mongrels, the Romans

Legions are shown as sadistic. After a screening of the film at the

Willow Creek Church in Illinois, Mel Gibson spoke to the crowd and

said, “The opponents of Jesus are dupes of Satan.” Perhaps Mel

Gibson did have a point he was trying to get across, not that Jesus

was a great man, but that there is a dichotomy in this world

between those who believe versus those who don’t, good versus evil.

I fear then, not just that this movie has created a false

separation between Christianity and the rest of the world, but that

its message has the potential to set back inter-religious dialogue

by many years, and will foster not the love and acceptance taught

by Jesus, but will foster hatred. My fear is what will happen when

religious extremists see this movie, and use it as just one more

excuse for hating not only Jews, but all non-believers.

Aaron is a senior studying space engineering. Aaron, along with

opinion editor, Christopher J. Ortiz, are members of Alpha Tau

Omega Fraternity.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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