A Little Bit of a Different View

Years and years have passed. Originally, I was going to write about this subject – this film – back in 2004, when it was released to the world. And the world responded. And responded. And kept the controversy of its very existence alive for so long, I wondered when it would finally go away. When the new, next-day headline would, as they ever do, push another impassioned topic onto the front pages, casting aside the old, making the way for the new to begin.

And, eventually, it happened.

Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of The Christ was, without a doubt, one of the biggest films to come out in 2004. According to an online source: “The film was controversial and received polarized reviews, with some critics calling the film a religious and holy experience, while others found it anti-Semitic and criticized the violence as extreme. The film grossed over $612 million worldwide and became the fifth highest-grossing film of 2004 internationally at the end of its theatrical run. It is the highest-grossing (inflation unadjusted) Christian film and independent film of all time.”

At the time, all I could think about was the controversy of the film. How much passion and anger did the film instill in the hearts and minds of many…? True: all good writing and art have a certain responsibility to shock, to make people think, to make them FEEL! However, after my first viewing of the film, I found it to be distasteful. Plain and simple: distasteful. By the time I was 20 years of age, I had seen enough gore and horror films – all of them a part of some separate category ranging from ridiculously absurd to borderline masterpieces of cinematic history – and this film, in my twenty-year-old mind, was no different. I thought Mr. Gibson was perversely cashing out on a story that means so much to so many people in various ways that, to me, seemed pathetic. That is truly what I thought and how I felt.

Now, tonight, a few months away from my 39th birthday, having seen this difficult-to-watch, 2 hours and 6 minutes film for the second time, I recognize a change in me regarding Mel Gibson’s adaptation/interpretation.

How many have been brave enough – or arrogant enough – to bring to light their own vision of the final hours of the Life of Christ? I know I would never try to take such a feat on. For starters, my own devotion and faith, and personal philosophies tend to hinder me from completely swallowing such fantastical concepts… mainly the one being a singular man, a carpenter from Nazareth, who died in such a horrific way, was for my sins. For the sins of all people. But it is not Gibson’s bravery or arrogance that pulled at the different strings in my mind tonight regarding The Passion of The Christ. Nor is the copious amount of violence in the film one of the issues I struggled with during this second viewing.

It was having to, mentally, put myself in the boots of the actors, director, writers, and so on to recognize this film was, in their own way (maybe) their passion. It was their love letter to their Lord. A gift for the tens of millions of followers of Christ, to have a visual, comprehensive product/tool/reference to what may be viewed by so many as the ultimate sacrifice ever recorded or written in Western Civilization is not only an accomplishment, I can now see it clearly for what it may be: confirmation on what they have put their faith in.

Something becomes more real, I imagine, for some, if it is a movie. And not just any movie – a movie made with dedication and backing and love and, dare I say it, passion.

To expound on my own personal views, I believe Jesus of Nazareth was a good and holy man. A philosopher and controversial thinker at a time that needed such a person. His teachings, undeniably, are one of the most important vertebrae of the spine of history. A person that will be remembered and followed probably for as long as the human consciousness continues from one millennium to the next.

At least I hope it does. And I don’t know why I feel that way. I am, by no means, a preacher to the ways of a pristine Christian lifestyle and following. To the contrary, truth be told. I question way too much – not in the goodness of The Good Lord – but in people and in their sometimes blind, unquestioned following. Some things that, initially, were meant to be a thing of absolute beauty and hope have been corrupted, turned obscene, and tragically disfigured.

Man has the capability to screw anything and everything up. Think about it: Man turned water into an explosive. The hydrogen bomb, for goodness sake, is proof enough the most precious, natural things on this earth can be twisted.

Water ladies and gentleman is something every person no matter their faith (or lack thereof) needs. It is an essential element to survival. Faith and belief, in all honesty, are things not required to physically survive. Belief in whatever it is a person believes in may be the most important thing in someone’s life but, just remember, it can be skewed and made toxic by the wrong people.

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