- There've been a ton of emails and forwards floating around
recently from those who've had the privilege of seeing Mel Gibson's "The
Passion Of The Christ" prior to its actual release. I thought I'd
give you my reaction after seeing it last night.
- The screening was on the first night of "Elevate!",
a weekend-long seminar for young people at Prestonwood Baptist Church in
Plano. There were about 2,000 people there, and the movie was shown after
several speakers had taken the podium. It started around 9 and finished
around 11..so I reckon the film is about two hours in length. Frankly,
I lost complete track of time - so I can't be sure.
- I want you to know that I started in broadcasting when
I was 13-years-old. I've been in the business of writing, performing,
production, and broadcasting for a long time. I've been a part of movies,
radio, television, stage and other productions - so I know how things are
done. I know about soundtracks and special effects and make-up and screenplays.
I think I've seen just about every kind of movie or TV show ever made -
from extremely inspirational to extremely gory. I read a lot, too - and
have covered stories and scenes that still make me wince. I also have a
vivid imagination, and have the ability to picture things as they must
have happened - or to anticipate things as they will be portrayed. I've
also seen an enormous amount of footage from Gibson's film, so I thought
I knew what was coming.
- But there is nothing in my existence - nothing I could
have read, seen, heard, thought, or known - that could have prepared me
for what I saw on screen last night.
- This is not a movie that anyone will "like".
I don't think it's a movie anyone will "love". It certainly doesn't
"entertain". There isn't even the sense that one has just watched
a movie. What it is, is an experience - on a level of primary emotion that
is scarcely comprehensible. Every shred of human preconception or predisposition
is utterly stripped away. No one will eat popcorn during this film. Some
may not eat for days after they've seen it Quite honestly, I wanted to
vomit. It hits that hard.
- I can see why some people are worried about how the film
portrays the Jews. They should be worried. No, it's not anti-Semitic. What
it is, is entirely shattering. There are no "winners". No one
comes off looking "good" except Jesus. Even His own mother hesitates.
As depicted, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day merely do what any of us
would have done - and still do. They protected their perceived "place"
- their sense of safety and security, and the satisfaction of their own
"rightness". But everyone falters. Caiphus judges. Peter denies.
Judas betrays. Simon the Cyrene balks Mark runs away. Pilate equivocates.
The crowd mocks. The soldiers laugh. Longinus still stabs with his pilus.
The centurion still carries out his orders. And as Jesus fixes them all
with a glance, they still turn away.
- The Jews, the Romans, Jesus' friends - they all fall.
Everyone, except the Principal Figure. Heaven sheds a single, mighty tear
- and as blood and water spew from His side, the complacency of all creation
is eternally shattered.
- The film grabs you in the first five seconds, and never
lets go. The brutality, humiliation, and gore is almost inconceivable -
and still probably doesn't go far enough. The scourging alone seems to
never end, and you cringe at the sound and splatter of every blow - no
matter how steely your nerves. Even those who have known combat or prison
will have trouble, no matter their experience - because this Man was not
conscripted. He went willingly, laying down His entirety for all. It is
one thing for a soldier to die for his countrymen It's something else entirely
to think of even a common man dying for those who hate and wish to kill
him. But this is no common man. This is the King of the Universe. The idea
that anyone could or would have gone through such punishment is unthinkable
- but this Man was completely innocent, completely holy - and paying the
price for others. He screams as He is laid upon the cross, "Father,
they don't know. They don't know..."
- What Gibson has done is to use all of his considerable
skill to portray the most dramatic moment of the most dramatic events since
the dawn of time. There is no escape. It's a punch to the gut that puts
you on the canvas, and you don't get up. You are simply confronted by the
horror of what was done - what had to be done - and why Throughout the
entire film, I found myself apologizing.
- What you've heard about how audiences have reacted is
true. There was no sound after the film's conclusion. No noise at all.
No one got up. No one moved. The only sound one could hear was sobbing.
In all my years of public life, I have never heard anything like that.
- I told many of you that Gibson had reportedly re-shot
the ending to include more "hope" through the Resurrection? That's
not true. The Resurrection scene is perhaps the shortest in the entire
movie - and yet it packs a punch that can't be quantified. It is perfect.
There is no way to negotiate the meaning out of it. It simply asks, "Now,
what will you do?"
- I'll leave the details to you, in the hope that you will
see the film - but one thing above all stands out, and I have to tell you
about it. It comes from the end of Jesus' temptations in the wilderness
- where the Bible says Satan left him "until a more opportune time".
I imagine Satan never quit tempting Christ, but this film captures beyond
words the most opportune time At every step of the way, Satan is there
at Jesus' side imploring Him to quit, reasoning with Him to give up, and
seducing Him to surrender.
- For the first time, one gets an heart-stopping idea of
the sense of madness that must have enveloped Jesus - a sense of the evil
that was at His very elbow. The physical punishment is relentless - but
it's the sense of psychological torture that is most overwhelming. He should
have quit. He should have opened His mouth. He should have called 10,000
angels. No one would have blamed Him. What we deserve is obvious. But He
couldn't do that. He wouldn't do that. He didn't do that. He doesn't do
that. It was not and is not His character. He was obedient, all the way
to the cross - and you feel the real meaning of that phrase in a place
the human heart usually doesn't dare to go. You understand that we are
called to that same level of obedience. With Jesus' humanity so irresistibly
on display, you understand that we have no excuse. There is no place to
- The truth is this: Is it just a "movie"? In
a way, yes. But it goes far beyond that, in a fashion I've never felt -
in any forum. We may think we "know". We know nothing. We've
gone 2,000 years - used to the idea of a pleasant story, and a sanitized
Christ. We expect the ending, because we've heard it so many times. God
forgive us. This film tears that all away. It's is as close as any of us
will ever get to knowing, until we fully know. Paul understood. "Be
urgent, in and out of season."
- Luke wrote that Jesus reveals Himself in the breaking
of the bread. Exactly. "The Passion Of The Christ" shows that
Bread being broken.
- Go see this movie.
- See the Passion.com
- Download The Passion Trailer
- Seattle Catholic - Photos from Mel Gibson's Latin Movie,
- The Passion Of The Christ - Free Fan Kits and Promotional