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The Passion of The Christ

Mel Gibson

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R-rated for Violence
There is, however, considerable concern regarding the movie's graphic and prolonged violence - content for which it received an R-rating [What the rating means].

One reporter wonders, Who would want to see a film this violent?:

[W]orthy and serious as Gibson's treatment may be, his blood-drenched depiction of the final hours of Jesus's life is harsh and brutal, dwelling almost entirely on pain, suffering and torment.

Beatings, whippings, floggings and the Crucifixion, are shown in close-up with frequent slow motion shots to ensure that no detail escapes us. We see a cat-o-nine tails rip repeatedly into Jesus's flesh as His body is torn and battered to a bleeding pulp; He stumbles, falls and is beaten many times during His long, slow crawl towards His crucifixion; and the agony of the Crucifixion is graphically and excruciatingly portrayed.

The film, due to be released in America on Ash Wednesday and in Britain on March 26, is being marketed to evangelical Christians, although Gibson has emphasised it is not for young children.

However, many adults are likely to have problems with the vivid depictions of pain and violence. It is being released with an R rating but people are already asking whether it should warrant an NC-17, a rating so far applied only to films with explicit sexual content. Gibson claims to have cut some of the most brutal scenes but there is plenty of scope for more editing.
Source: Who would want to see a film this violent?, John Hiscock, Daily Telegraph, Feb. 11, 2004

Another reporter writes, Advice to parents: Leave kids at home:

"The Passion," which opens Tuesday, is easily the most violent, blood-drenched film I have seen in years -- perhaps ever. And therein lies a serious issue I see not only through the eyes of an entertainment writer, but also a church-going Christian.

Churches busing youth to this movie like it's some sort of Chuck E. Cheese field trip need to think -- and pray -- long and hard about the aftershock. "The Passion" is not kids' stuff. It is gory in the extreme, with prolonged flogging and torture scenes. One lasts 45 minutes.

Further, "The Passion" has the potential to traumatize kids and young adults rather than bolster their faith.

That is not to criticize the film outright, as some Christian opinion leaders point out. "I thought it would be a very moving and powerful film and I'm glad I've seen it twice," said David Neff, editor of Christianity Today. "But I'm just a little nervous that it's being promoted as a film that everyone must see. It depicts Christ's sufferings so graphically that I have my reservations about exposing younger teens to this kind of violence."
Source: Advice to parents: Leave kids at home, Lou Carlozo, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 24, 2004

Following an advance screening, Christianity Today editor David Neff and Today's Christian Woman editor Jane Johnson Struck interviewed Mel Gibson about The Passion of The Christ:

Struck: Even though the film is R-rated, church youth groups are planning to see this movie. How did your own older children react to this film? And did it have an impact on their own faith?

I think they were moved by it and astounded by it. Which is a good thing for my own family; they're kind of used to my stuff. The most interesting reaction was from the guy who lives over the fence. He's known my boys since he was a little kid. He wanders in, goes through the refrigerator, helps himself to food, comes in, plops in front of the TV. We're watching it, so he catches it only from about halfway through, from the flagellation. He forgot to eat. He had his food, but he forgot to eat it. When it's over, he just has this stunned silence and doesn't really know quite how to react. He sits there for a couple of minutes, and I'm was watching him. And he finally turned to me and he said, "Dude, that was graphic."

Now that's an understatement, but it indicated to me that he was really thinking. He was searching. And I think people don't usually say much after the film. They can't really talk, which is a good reaction, I think, because they are introspective—which is what I hoped to achieve: introspection.

Neff: The film does a great job of showing Jesus' suffering. And you've taken some steps to address the meaning of Jesus' suffering. But what are the limits of film as a medium in communicating that meaning?

Film, I think, is visceral. It has the power to draw you in and have you experience something on an emotional level that you may not be able logically to explain. However, it will leave you with a set of images or an experience or a feeling that may make you want to look further. That's all, the film is just a jumping-off point. But the film makes some parallels for a reason. I juxtapose the Last Supper with the Crucifixion to point out what it is, how it was instituted, and why. To the best of my ability, I just tried to tell the story and to have some deeper meaning in it that would affect people and cause them to be introspective and to seek further. And if that happens, that's a great thing, and that they can come to some truth.
Source: 'Dude, That Was Graphic', ChristianityToday.com, Posted Feb. 23, 2004

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About This Page:

• Subject: The Passion of The Christ
• First posted: Jan. 30, 2004
• Last Updated: Feb. 25, 2004
• Editor: Anton Hein
• Copyright: Apologetics Index

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