"By his wounds we are healed."

PASSION IS BIBLICAL PORN

If torture is your idea of redemption,
you can get it here on both sides of the screen.

A dark and bloody spectacle
As sex is to the body in hardcore porn,
violence is to the ruin of the body of Christ in The Passion

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST movie review by Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star, Feb 25, 2004

Starring Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Claudia Gerini, Maia Morgenstern, Sergio Rubini. Directed by and co-written by Mel Gibson. In Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles. At major theatres. 18A

The brute piety informing Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ insists not only that there is something spiritually uplifting in witnessing the meticulous, lash-by-lash and nail-by-nail re-enactment of the Messiah's physical torture and crucifixion, but that we share in the experience as closely as contemporary movie technology makes possible.

Every inch of Jesus' earthly flesh is ripped in this movie in full surround sound, and every drop of blood spilled with digital realism. Because the film so lavishly I would even call it perversely relishes in the real-time spectacle of inflicted pain and ripped flesh, His pain and ours are unavoidably and mercilessly synched.

But for what purpose? As unavoidably deliberate as this strategy of shared on- and off-screen torture is the movie opens with a quote from Isaiah 53 that concludes "By his wounds we are healed" the sheer systematic brutality of its unfolding will also act as the axe by which responses to this singularly blunt viewing experience will be split.

If yours is a spirituality, as Mel Gibson's must certainly be, based in the presumption that salvation is only possible after suffering, you might well find something like grace lurking in Mr. Gibson's dark and bloody spectacle. If not, you're in for one of the most unremittingly cruel movie experiences this side of the (considerably less pious and certainly more fun) remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

While the subject of Christ's Passion has attracted moviemakers of varying spiritual inclination dating back to Edison, it took more than a century for Mel Gibson to come along and render it as a spectacle of pure, concentrated brutality.

One might argue that was only technology which prevented people ranging from Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith to Pier Paolo Pasolini and Martin Scorsese from doing so before now, but the utter paucity of The Passion Of The Christ in just about every other department except the depiction of violence would suggest something else: Gibson is the first to take on the subject of the Passion who sees the violence in the myth as its essence and its point.

And while Gibson's canny, Hollywood-smart strategy of showing the film to sympathetic religious groups before general release proves that he's got avidly sympathetic supporters, it might also suggest he's prepared for the backlash the movie will most certainly and deservingly unleash.

Even from my position of relative spiritual impoverishment, I have no doubt that Gibson believes completely and utterly in the divinity of his mission. From precisely the same position however, I also believe, just as completely and utterly, The Passion Of The Christ to be a work of fundamentalist pornography. What graphic sex is to the use of the body in hardcore porno, graphic violence is to destruction of the body of Christ in this Passion.

Covering the final 12 hours of Christ's life, from the moment of doubt in an ominously foggy studio-bound Garden of Gethsemane to the final commending of His soul on the cross, the movie focuses on three public-arena spectacles: Christ's arrest and humiliation in front of the Pharisees; His questioning and flogging by the (mostly drunken) Romans; and the crucifixion.

In each, our own position as spectators in the theatre is reflected on screen: This is Christ's Passion as form of public-consumption spectacle. While each of these events is re-created to play out in something resembling real time, because of the inevitability of the proceedings each is strangely devoid of dramatic nuance or tension.

In the same way that Jim Caviezel's impregnably beatific Christ is possibly the least conflicted and most divinely one-dimensional movie-Jesus since Griffiths', all of the other characters save, it must be noted with some interest, Hristo Naumov Shopov's charismatically self-doubting Pilate, a company man with whom Gibson obviously sympathizes most of the characters in Gibson's film are reduced to figures passing by in a pop-ritual pageant.

If this flattens depiction, abolishes psychology and steamrolls motivation compared to this rendering, Scorsese's formerly controversial Last Temptation feels like Last Tango in Jerusalem it's what also facilitates the wholly reasonable charges of anti-Semitism the movie has drawn: Because Gibson is so uninterested in providing anything like a larger political or deeper psychological context for his characters' actions, the inescapable conclusion to be reached by the movie's blunt expositional technique is that Christ died because the Jews demanded it. It might have been for our sins, but it was at their command.

Lest this point prove too understated for his audience, Gibson nails even it home with his recurring use of an androgynous, black-hooded Satan: Although first seen tempting Christ in Gethsemane, this spooky, Bergmanesque figure is subsequently seen lurking only among the movie's crucifixion-crazy Jewish mob.

But if it's the absence of anything but the most basic of dramatic elements that considerably helps reduce the movie's Jews to a pack of bloodthirsty hounds in one sequence, Judas is even hounded by Yarmulke-wearing Jewish children who morph into Satanic sprites Gibson's film, for all its vaunted "authenticity" doesn't really offer anyone much of an opportunity for characterological depth.

Indeed, everything here is offered as a form of symbol, as heavy and oppressive as the cross itself. Additionally, Gibson's much-publicized use of the dead language Aramaic does little to add flesh to his wooden cast of characters.

As a filmmaker, Gibson's hardly a touchy-feely soft touch anyway. If anything, he's a blockbuster-baptized brute who feels on firmest footing when he's springing sudden jump-out-go-boo scares, staging slow-motion fight sequences, or devising new ways in which to ratchet up his Saviour's excruciation: If the flagellation isn't harrowing enough, he has his legionnaires graduate from whips to flesh-ripping cat o' nine tails halfway through.

Similarly, he ensures that the crown of thorns isn't just placed on Christ's head but driven into it, and later introduces a hitherto cinematically undepicted incident in the crucifixion itself: After nailing Jesus to the 300-pound cross, the Romans flip it over.

if The Passion Of The Christ is worrisome on the basis that it will preach successfully beyond the realm of the converted, that seems unlikely. If you're not already inclined to Gibson's brand of hardgore fundamentalism, this certainly won't win you over.

However, if torture is your idea of redemption, you can get it here on both sides of the screen.


'Apocalypto' is new Gibson snuff film. Canada.com, Dec 8, 2006
"The key to prosperity is to build more temples and offer human sacrifices"....He hinted at it with Jesus' prolonged, agonizing death in "The Passion of the Christ." With an immeasurable body count and mutilation factor in "Apocalypto," it's confirmed: Mel Gibson is master of the epic snuff film. Director Gibson applies the same breathtaking production values and attention to detail as he did in "Braveheart" and "The Passion." But he amplifies the violence beyond the brutal of "Braveheart" and the excruciating of "The Passion" to something approaching abhorrent at the height of the carnage in "Apocalypto."Was pre-Columbian Mayan society a savage place? Sure, at times. Does Gibson need to repeatedly show us lopped-off heads bouncing like coconuts down the towering stairs of a pyramid to prove it? Not so much. The blood and gore become so extreme that they provoke titters of ridicule, undermining a simple, stirring story of family devotion as a man races from vile captors to return home and rescue his pregnant wife and their son. Gibson also strains credulity with his main character's Christlike ability to survive what look to be fatal, or at least incapacitating, piercings by arrows. The suffering the character goes through is not unlike the scourging of Christ. Then again, Gibson's Martin Riggs survived about a thousand-and-one bullets at the end of "Lethal Weapon 2" and lived to fight again in two more sequels. Given the furor over "The Passion," whose critics worried that it might stoke anti-Semitism, and Gibson's drunken driving arrest and anti-Semitic ramblings last summer, it's fortuitous for him that his next film was something about as far removed from all that as possible. At least no one can call Gibson a Jew hater for "Apocalypto"...

Santa Cross
Canada allows crucified Santa. Metro.co.uk, Dec 8, 2006
A Canadian artist has incurred the wrath of his neighbours with his Christmas decoration a rather fetching display in his garden, in which Santa appears crucified on a cross. Artist Jimmy Wright's crucified Santa has attracted a little criticism from others in Metchosin, British Columbia. Local woman Jennifer Blair thought that children catching the school bus from a neaby bus-stop might be upset. 'They think Santa's at the North Pole getting their toys ready, not on a pole in Metchosin,' she pointed out. Wright defended his sculpture as making a point about the commercialisation of Christmas: 'Santa represents frivolous consumption. That's all he is. He shot Jesus right out of the saddle. He's the focus of Christmas.''I don't know how it came into my mind but I thought I'm going to take Santa Claus and I'm going to crucify him,' he added. Another woman complained: 'I think it's an evil way. Kids see things like that and children they see that on the front page I think that's terrible.' Authorities have said they have no power to compel Wright to remove the crucified Santa, as it is on Wright's private property. Wright, 69, also has a good grasp of irony. 'It's a funny feeling when I'm sitting in my hot tub, looking out this way, and I'm trying to make a statement to everybody to slow down on what they can consume, and I'm in a 6,400-square-foot home,' he noted.

Mel doing Mayan blood rites movie. Guardian, Oct 30, 2005
'Apolocalpyto' - Anyone who turned nauseous at the flesh-ripping carnage of The Passion should fear for their stomachs again. While Mayan civilisation thrived for nearly 2,000 years before its mysterious collapse, mastering astronomy and the construction of pyramids, it also carried out savage rituals of human sacrifice to appease the gods.

Gibson's bloody mess/Jesus H Christ (2-hour-6-minute snuff movie is protracted exercise in sadomasochism). Slate, Feb 26, 2004 & See the movie, buy the nail (swap witnessing cards with your masochistic Jesus fanatic friends). SanFranGate, Feb 26, 2004

FOUNDING FATHERS NOT CHRISTIANS

Human sacrifice as entertainment (churches taking kids to crucifixion; see beating that lasts 45 minutes; cat-o'-nine-tails ripping flesh; hands nailed & arm pulled from socket; body lanced & blood showers down). USA Today, Feb 17, 2004. Go to MOSES & SUGARCANDY MOUNTAIN & HUMAN SACRIFICE IN BIBLE

BIBLE FRIENDS AT ARMAGEDDON

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

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