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Published March 22nd, 2004 | by Ed Colley

The Passion of The Christ Review

Classification: 18 Director: Mel Gibson Rating: 3.5/5

I’ll be straight with you. As a Jewish boy from North West London, I’m not overly familiar with the New Testament. Although several people I have met in my life have at one point mumbled something like ‘your lot killed Jesus’, I’ve never been too sure exactly how the Big Guy lived, what he did, or if he should have any impact on my life. In fact, I should really take a note from Ross Geller’s book, who, in a recent episode in ‘Friends’, steals his hotel bible so he can, ‘learn more about Jesus’.

No – me and the Christian Messiah are not the best of acquaintances. True, I do invoke his name on a number of occasions each and every day, but this is pretty much where our relationship ends. Which is why I am eternally grateful to Mel Gibson and The Passion of the Christ. For through his film, I have managed to do the same as Ross: namely, learn more about Jesus.

For instance, I never knew that Jesus paid such close attention to his hair and beauty products. This doesn’t obviously come to the fore during the 60 minutes of the film when he is beaten, scourged, made to wear a crown of thorns, beaten some more, made to carry a very heavy crucifix and crucified, as JC is understandably a bit sweaty and covered in his own blood during this time. But in the more serene and peaceful moments of the film that are shown in flashback, where JC hands out the kind of useful noisettes of advice to his disciples that the later-day prophet Jerry Springer delivers at the end of his show, Jesus looks just lovely. His long, silky locks are full of body and vigour, and his neat, healthy beard gives him a masculine vitality that is counter-pointed by an erstwhile tenderness. I’m not sure what kind of products they used in Galilee back in the day, but it puts Nicky Clarke to shame, that’s for sure.

As well as various beard-related issues, I also didn’t know exactly what role my people played in the life of JC. Thankfully ‘Gibbo’ handily explains this one as well. Apparently, the Jewish people (or in the case of The Passion, ‘the mob’), led by a group of power-hungry ne’er-do’wells who clearly didn’t spend as much time as JC on their beard styling, weren’t all that keen on old Jesus. Rather obstinately ignoring his claim to be the son of God and the King of the Jews, my ancestors, jeering in only the way a group of people afflicted by a mob mentality can, bayed for his blood and insisted, nay demanded, that he be crucified. So, I guess I should be pretty grateful to Mel for making it so clear to me that JC’s blood is, rather unfortunately, on my hands. At least now I know!

Another aspect of Jesus’s life that I was not aware of, was the fact that he spent much of his time moving about in slow-motion, accompanied by a thunderously bombastic score. I guess when you’re the son of God you must have quite a lot on your mind, particularly when you’re dealing with the fact that you are going to be put through two hours of the most hideously violent torture in order to carry the sins of the rest of mankind. Obviously this is why JC is shown in the film to take such a long time carrying his cross to his own crucifixion – apart from the weight, he had to do everything in slow motion to give him time to, you know, ponder (though I’m still not quite sure how he managed to pay for the full orchestra who followed him around. I guess maybe he sold his carpentry business for a tidy sum or something).

So, what else did The Passion of the Christ teach me? Well, let’s see… it taught me that Satan looks a lot like Luke Goss from Blade 2. It taught me that Pontius Pilate was actually a pretty decent chap forced to make some unpleasant decisions, rather than a brutal dictator. It taught me that the Roman legionnaires posted to Judea had some pretty serious anger-management issues. And it taught me that JC (in this case, Jim Caviezel) plays the best-looking Rabbi every committed to celluloid (just pipping Ben Stiller at the post).

Oh – and last, but not least, The Passion of the Christ has taught me that if another director claims that their film has been ‘directed by the Holy Ghost’, (just as old Mr Gibson has been quoted as saying), you can probably bet that watching it will mean being battered into submission by an unrelenting procession of wincingly disgusting scenes of incredibly graphic torture that have as much poignancy as a tank and as much basis in reality as the fact that I am about to be made President of Azerbaijan.

But at least I learnt a bit more about Jesus. And for that, I can only be grateful.

Thanks to for enabling FutureMovies to see a screening of The Passion

Also read Adrian Mackinder review of the Passion of The Christ.

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