Saturday, April 03, 2004

Bloody Hell

So, some friends and I went to see the Passion last night. A number of people have picked apart the sunday school theology so I won't really discuss that here. If you're interested, go read what David Neiwert has to say at Orcinus.

As a movie, the Passion of the Christ sucks, plain and fancy. Every character who is not a stereotype is a caricature. There is zero subtlety. Zero. Every scene is done like a stilted silent movie. I haven't seen this degree of mugging for the camera in a modern film. We're talking Nosferatu creaping up the stairs, the villain twisting his mustache and wringing his hands as the damsel lays on the train tracks. Every action is slowed down for emphasis, given a close-up or highlighted just so you don't miss every bloody, gruesome moment. And gruesome it is. The scourging lasts twenty minutes. First, the Romans, grinning sadistically, beat him with canes. Then, when he isn't quite unconscious, they get the whips with broken glass in the end and scourge him. For twenty minutes of the film.

There are no real surprises in the story, other than where Saint Mel departs from scripture to beat you over the head with an extra ounce of suffering. Because that's the point of the film. Jesus suffered. It truly is the Gospel According to Mad Max.

Talking about the film afterwards, a friend said that what he got out of it was a plea for mercy. However, it was a plea that went unheeded. And unfortunately, the most unmerciful person in the film was the director. I've yet to see a more ham-fisted film and while I'm not a huge Gibson fan to begin with, I know from previous films he's directed that he is capable of doing a decent job of telling a story. But he breaks just about every basic rule of storytelling there is. And of course, I know this film is not supposed to be a story but the director is making use of narrative tropes, therefore there are certain rules that apply. This is not a documentary, no matter what Mel Gibson's intentions may be.


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