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The Passion of the Bad Movie (4-5-4)
Caiaphas the Instigator, Pilate the Innocent
So, people made like Mel Gibson changed things to get Pontius Pilate off the hook and the High Priest Caiaphas on it. But, take a look in the gospels and you might see, he didn?t change much of anything. He added a little more dialogue, but just to reiterate what was already said and extend the story to something worthy of feature length (the arrest and crucifixion story amounts to barely a handful of chapters at the end of each gospel). Pilate says he sees no crime in Christ. He says Christ hasn?t done anything worthy of death. But, the People (led by the High Priest) call for crucifixion. They call for Barabbas to be released (it?s interesting that the film plays off Barabbas like some psycho killer when he was a guy involved in an uprising against the Romans). John 11:50, Caiaphas calls for the death of Christ several chapters before it comes down to it, even. ?You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.? Christ was a firebrand that would bring the Romans down on the Jews if the Jews bothered to all follow him. He had to be stopped. And, Pilate could barely be bothered to care. He just wanted ?to satisfy the crowd? (Mark 15:15). Pilate asks the crowd ?what crime has he committed? (Matthew 27:23) and the response is to Crucify him. There?s no impression in the Bible that Pilate had any real responsibility, aside from Officially, of course, as Governor, for Christ?s death. Hell, Christ even lets him off the hook (in the film as well as in John 19:11). ?You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above,? he says. ?Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.? Christ got a speedy trial cause Passover was coming. Caiaphas gave the People what they wanted so there wouldn?t be an uprising in his neck of the Roman world. And, by the way, that line about Christ?s blood being on the Jews is still in the film, even if not subtitled, but in context, it doesn?t sound like it refers to all the Jews but to all the Jews and people there in that particular courtyard right then, cause Pilate has washed his hands (literally) of the whole thing.
Satan (And Names, For That Matter) the Unnecessary
The presence of the devil in the film was unnecessary and mostly amounted to, well, not much. And, his deformed toddlers were silly and downright odd. He seems more some old friend of the protagonist than some great adversary, and don?t even get me started on his final scene or I might want to laugh again (out of respect for the weeping hordes in the theater, I held in my laughter the first time but I?m at home now and might just not be able to contain myself). He was the creepy albino with the snake under his skirt. Hell (pun not intended), they didn?t even say his name. Of course, barely any characters get actual names in any of the dialogue. We just have to think back on Sunday School or Parochial School and rack our brains for the various names. I swear they never even acknowledged Mary Magdalene by name; she?s just that woman who keeps hanging out with the tortured fella?s mom?oh, there?s a brief flashback to Christ saving her from stoning, but there?s no dialogue and no context and not even enough detail to the scene to show anything of what was going on (I just hope you all saw the first film, cause this sequel keeps flashing back to bits and pieces from it without explaining much of the content).
Flashback the Out Of Context
The flashbacks were mostly unnecessary and badly placed. We hear Christ saying Peter will deny him three times after we?ve already seen Peter do it. How about, when it comes to prophetic speeches, we hear them before the described action. It makes for much more believable prophecy. And, for all the mothers in the audience, look a made up flashback with a little boy falling down on some rocks. Nevermind that he?s obviously not hurt, what the hell kind of melodrama class did Mary attend. You don?t knock down valuable pitchers to pick up a kid who you intend to claim is the Son of God. And, you don?t throw in such manipulative scenes when the whole damn film is already manipulative enough. The flashbacks add no real content to the ?story? of the film and come at odd times and, for the sake of more torture, run very short. That being said, one of the best scenes in the film was the early flashback of Christ putting some finishing touches on a table he made and being playful and, well, real, more of a person than the rest of the film or any of the Bible makes him.
London Bridge the Christ Figure
How many times can a guy dramatically fall down in one sequence? Seriously, we get it, he?s weak, he?s bleeding and dying and whatnot. But, do we need to see him fall down a half dozen times? By the last few, it was just boring.
Could we get some character development perhaps? And, how about some subtitles for the Roman guards during the flogging. Obviously, they?re counting lashes at one point, but there?s a lot more going on in that scene. How about some subtitles? Of course, then we?d just get silly, unrealistic dialogue to match all the laughter, cause everyone knows all prison guards and dealers of punishment throughout the ages have been sadistic fucks who get off on causing all that pain. Yeah, the Bible says they stuck a crown of thorns on his head (which it never says is still there for the crucifixion, by the way) and taunt him about being King of the Jews, but that was after the beating. Nowhere does it say the beating came with taunting or laughter or joy. But, they?ve got to be evil, right, just in case the audience isn?t moved by the torture itself, just in case the audience happens to notice that Christ really hasn?t done much of anything in the film yet aside from stand around and look boring. This guy?s the most famous cult leader in history, and we get nothing of his teachings and almost nothing of he personality. Of course, maybe he?s better off not being the wordy hippy of the Bible.
The Case for David Koresh
The biblical accounts seriously make Christ look like a cult leader who did what he could to make sure he?d be crucified just so he could claim to be fulfilling the various prophecies. Take, for example, Matthew 26: 56: ?But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.? At the time of his death, though, Christ had barely more than a dozen devout followers. How many did Koresh have? Who, objectively speaking, seems more the martyr?
Episode Zero: He Actually Had A Life First
You want a powerful film about a charismatic leader, maybe you should include some of the charisma, include some of his life, some of his teachings. Do not just assume (however correctly) that we all know the damn story and leave the majority of it out. Do not obsess about torture and death unless you draw out a character first. Watch the film without referencing your own beliefs about Christ (a difficult task, to be sure) and there?s some guy that seems to think the moon is his father (seriously, they cut back and forth between he and the moon as he prays in the opening scene) who kills some creepy albino guy?s snake then fixes the ear of one of the officers sent to arrest him and then it?s on with the torture and death. There is so little of who Christ was and what he stood for in this film, it?s rather laughable. This movie is begging for a prequel.
South Park Aside, Mel Gibson Has Torture Issues
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Braveheart and now this. Let?s go down through history and find some more famous torturings, maybe King Olav of Norway torturing those Chieftains?that can be Mel?s next film. Hell, I?ll finish my own Vikariad story and Mel can make a film of that (trust me, there will be torture in there).
The Passion Of The Christ the Bad Movie
No character development, barely enough plot to maintain a single scene in any other film (the plot, of course, has already happened by the time the film begins) and the acting, where present in brief shots here and there amounts to little more than a) looking stoic or b) looking in pain. The film looks nice, but that?s not enough. The narrative flow is lacking (though fairly straightforward) and the structure is lazy, even for an adaptation. Few characters get names (even ones whose names we obviously (should) know) and even fewer get anything meaningful to do or say. Peter?s denial adds nothing to the film. Mary Magdalene (unnamed) adds nothing to the film (one crying woman would have been enough). Simon of Cyrene (unnamed) has no reason from one scene to be making a big deal of how he doesn?t want to get involved and wants to be sure everyone realizes he?s just carrying the cross and is not the condemned man to the next scene yelling for the guards to leave Christ alone (strangely, not in the Bible, this scene) and helping Christ even more. The guy with the Marys the whole time gets no name and almost no lines but he?s got more screen time than a hell of a lot of people. Pilate, I?m pretty sure, didn?t even get named. Nor did Satan get a name. Hell, God even barely got mentioned except as the protagonist?s imaginary ?Father? who seemed to be the Moon.