I have heard and read much criticism of Mel Gibson's "The Passion" and wanted to weigh in on this movie.
There has been quite a bit of criticism concerning the level of violence in this movie. Considering the ambient level of violence in our media and culture, these criticisms sound hollow. Fantastic violence and sadism are a staple of our popular entertainment; criticizing "The Passion" for being violent is hypocritical.
A good example of this violence is in "Bad Boys II," which at one point features Will Smith driving over naked cadavers in a high-speed car chase in downtown Miami. The violence portrayed in "The Passion" is minor in comparison, especially when you consider that the violence in the entertainment industry is frequently used to elicit and titillate base and sexual impulses.
Generally speaking, accounts of the crucifixion are drawn from the Psalms and the Gospels and have been held as factual by most Christians for nearly 2,000 years. The level of brutality, methods of punishment, etc., of the era in which Christ lived are matters of historical fact. It isn't much of a stretch to put 2 and 2 together and create a presentation, albeit somewhat stylized, of what Christ endured. Crucifixion was a common form of execution at that time. It is said that the Romans actually ran out of trees when crucifying rebels after the sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
In reality, these criticisms of "The Passion" originate from a form of culture shock. We are separated by continents, cultures and thousands of years from the death of Christ. The realities of that event have become detached and dulled for many. When I saw this movie on Saturday, "The Passion" made the crucifixion visually real, erasing the centuries between me and the actual event. The violence in "The Passion" gave me pause, but for all the right reasons.
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