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:: Random Movie :: Passion of the Christ
@ obsessions     Mar 29 2005, 00:20 (UTC+0)

Actor: Jim Caviezel as Jesus - from the Movie -- The Passion Of The Christ

-- critical review by Adam Schellenberg

It's hard to walk into a picture these days without knowing every detail about the movie. Trailers have shown too much story, reviews have jaded your perspective, or friends have refused to see it - movies get spoiled. Yet, sometimes, knowing the story is a far cry from seeing the event. For many, the story of the crucifixion is something they've grown up with, lived with, as far back as memory serves. I tell you this, no matter what you've heard, no matter what you know - you will be stunned by The Passion of the Christ.

From the opening shot to the falling credits, this film demands full control of ones body and emotion. So visually spectacular and physically gripping, this film had me literally convulsing as I attempted to watch what was onscreen. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, starring Jim Caviezel, is a retelling of the last hours of Jesus Christ. Believe me when I say that this production is more than a story, more than a movie; this film can only be described as an experience.

This movie is fantastically brutal. From beginning to end, blood drenched flesh is smeared across the screen in a ghastly fashion. Gibson defends his incredibly graphic depiction by noting that the bible states Jesus was beaten beyond recognition. I assure you, beaten beyond recognition hardly describes soft tissue being torn to be the bone as blood drips into puddles on the ground.

The violence shown in this movie is unlike other Hollywood violence - it's uncomfortably personal. The scenes are so believable, the violence so real, that the scenes appear to take place in your very presence; imagine before you a man being torn to bloody shreds; your helpless to do anything, you're a spectator - utterly horrific.

As any appreciator of the finer things in film might see, The Passion of the Christ is artistic genius. Mel Gibson stated that his film follows the last 12 hours of Christ in accordance to the gospel, and although biblical scholars have confirmed this to be true, it is also true that a certain artistic license was taken to particular moments in the story. Nothing anti-biblical was added, but inside a sense deep meaning was inserted through symbols and actions not actually recorded in the gospels. This artistry serves to aid the story and engage the audience - artistically and culturally, expect nothing less that a film superbly crafted. Set your expectations high, this one can handle them.

Unless you've been avoiding the media in recent months you've heard accusations of anti-Semitism against this movie: its going to rekindle a hate for Jews, its depicting the Jewish leaders of the day as monsters, and its showing that the Jews were solely responsible for the death of Jesus.

I trust that once the movie is seen by the general public all of these statements will fade into the shadows; this movies greatest defense will be itself. It is true that the Jews were involved in the crucifixion of Christ, just as it's said in the bible for nearly two thousand years. Hearing this story doesn't swell up a hatred for the Jewish race, no more than watching Schindlers List makes one hate current day Germans. This film is going to be many things to many people - anti-Semitic is not one of them.

No matter your background, no matter your race, no matter your beliefs on the afterlife, this movie needs to be seen. The art, the culture, and the magnificence - see The Passion of the Christ and you will have seen the fantastic. Ten out of ten.

Trivia for The Passion of the Christ (2004)

* When this Latin and Aramaic language film was announced, Mel Gibson stated that his intent was to release it without subtitles, letting the performances speak for themselves. However, subtitles were added later. Also, he stated that regardless of the cost of the project, that this would be "good for the soul".

* During the scourging scene, James Caviezel accidentally got whipped twice. The first time knocked the wind out of him, and the second time hurt so much it caused him wrench his hand quickly from his shackles, scraping his wrist badly.

* In an interview with Newsweek magazine, James Caviezel spoke about a few of the difficulties he experienced while filming. This included being accidentally whipped twice, which has left a 14 inch scar on his back. Caviezel also admitted he was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount and during the crucifixion, experienced hypothermia during the dead of winter in Italy.

* James Caviezel experienced a shoulder separation when the 150lb cross dropped on his shoulder. The scene is still in the movie.

* The figure of Christ during the crucifixion is actually James Caviezel, despite popular rumors - no animatronics were used. However, according to the movie's official website, the movie's make-up effects creator/producer Keith VanderLaan forged an articulated, rubber stand-in for Caviezel who could be suspended on the cross for certain wide shots to allow the actor some physical relief.

* When meeting with the producer, James Caviezel was originally told the film in question was a surfing movie. It wasn't until Mel Gibson walked in that Caviezel was told it was a film about Jesus.

* According to Mel Gibson, Maia Morgenstern, who played Mary, was pregnant during the shoot. She didn't tell anyone, until one day she approached James Caviezel (Jesus) and said in broken English and a thick Romanian accent, "I have baby. In stomach."

* It's Mel Gibson's hands that nail Christ to the cross during the Crucifixion scene. The decision for his small cameo in the film was explained by a quote from Gibson who said "It was me that put him on the cross. It was my sins[who put him there]."

* On the first day of general release, Ash Wednesday, Peggy Scott, a 56 year old advertising sales manager from Wichita, Kansas collapsed of apparent heart failure while watching the crucifixion scene. She later died at the hospital.

* This film had more pre-ticket sales than any other film in history.

* The two Bulgarian actors who play the roles of Pontius Pilate and John (Hristo Shopov and Hristo Jivkov) are both named "Hristo", which is the Bulgarian name for "Christ".

* Mel Gibson had a Canadian priest, Fr. Stephen Somerville, celebrate the Traditional Roman Catholic Latin Mass of the Apostolic Rite for the film crew each day before production began.

* The film begins without opening credits. The title of the film is stated only in the closing.

* James Caviezel was given a prosthetic nose and a raised hairline. His blue eyes were digitally changed to brown on film.

* Foreseeing damage to box office, its release in Mexico had to be moved one week earlier (from March 25 to March 19) because pirate copies were already available a few days after it premiered in the USA.

* Maia Morgenstern, who plays Mary (mother of Jesus), is only six years older than James Caviezel.

* In addition to the hand cameo in the scene where Jesus' hands are nailed to a cross, the film's composer ('John Debney' ) said in a magazine interview that Mel Gibson recorded the sound effects - cries and screaming - mixed with the music during the scene where Judas commits suicide.

* Mel Gibson's foot was used in the scene where Mary Magdalene touches Jesus' foot.

* In a rarity for Hollywood releases, re-entered the #1 spot at the box office for the weekend of Good Friday, 2004.

* Malaysia did not ban the film as is commonly believed. The Malaysian government allowed Christians to the film. Tickets were only allowed to be sold only by Christian churches.

* Mel Gibson has stated that he will give $100 million of the film's gross to the Traditional Catholic Movement.

* During production the film was originally supposed to be titled simply "The Passion". However in October 2003, it was revealed the Miramax studios already had a movie in production with that title. Mel Gibson retitled the film "The Passion of Christ". He retitled it yet again a month later in November 2003 to "The Passion of the Christ".

* This is the highest-grossing rated R film in US box office history earning $370 million.

* This is the highest grossing foreign language film and/or subtitled film in US box office history. It is also the highest grossing religious film in worldwide box office of all time.

* The assistant director of the movie was also hit by lightening during filming.

* While the characters of the film mostly speak Latin and Aramaic, there are instances where Hebrew was spoken: a) The gathering of the Sanhedrin (Jewish chief priests); b) Simon of Cyrene speaking; and c) The woman who gave water to Jesus to his way to Golgotha.

* Mel Gibson, a Roman Catholic, incorporated several Catholic influences in the film, such as the prominent role of Jesus' mother Mary; the Stations of the Cross; the floating cross which Jesus was cruxified; and the depiction of Satan.

* It would usually take over 10 hours to put James Caviezel into the scourged makeup.

* Banned in Kuwait and Bahrain, for religious reasons (forbidding visual depictions of a prophet, as Jesus is considered a prophet in Islam, not the Son of God).

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