Jesus was a 1st century Jewish Teacher who is now the central figure of the most dominant religion, Christianity. Jesus has also been the central figure of several forms of visual arts such as painting, sculpture, drawing, theater and film. This graphic manifestations of Jesus have been a subject of debate and criticism in recent years, due to the questions of authenticity raised on the portrayals. The conflicting perspectives of numerous religious sects who consider Jesus as a fundamental figure causes such debate to erupt. Moreover, the depiction of Christ in aesthetics, particularly, in film has always been contrasted from its main existing source, the Canonical Gospels of the Bible’s New Testament.
The Passion of the Christ
The passion of the Christ is a film that depicts the last twelve hours of the public life of Jesus of Nazareth. The motion picture concerns the agony, arrest, trial, suffering and death of Christianity’s central figure. The added treatment and elements in the film’s plot and execution attracted several points of comparison from its main scriptural source, the Bible’s New Testament, which is a subject of various debates in several sects of Christianity. Moreover, Passion of the Christ opened new doors for individuals regarding the theological account of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
The film offers a narrative of the Christ in the fulfillment of his destiny as humanity’s redemption from sin. The plot runs from Christ’s agony in Gethsemane up to his resurection. The film presents a narrative with similar accounts to that of the gospels with some additional accounts not found in the scriptures. One of the most notable infidelities of the film to the scriptures is the presence of the devil in the form of the woman. The devil was present almost all throughout Christ’s passion to epitomize evil in its purest form (Gibson, 2007).
The devil’s depiction in the movie symbolizes the decptive nature of evil itself. In the Passion’s case, the alluring, attractive appearance of the devil is augmented to signify the definition of evil. The hideous looking baby is another additional element to visually further the established definition of eveil (Gibson, 2007). The baby carried by the devil exemplifies the weird and disturbing distortion of what ought to be an incomparable vision of beauty seen in a mother carrying a child (Gibson, 2007).
The Canonical Gospels of the New Testament are not strictly followed by the movie, The Passion of the Christ, evidently, the Gospel of John recalls Jesus’ aids are the Sanhedrin or the Jewish authorities and only Annas and Caiaphas cross-examined Christ with the absence of the benefits of trial. The film presents Jesus being questioned by the Sanhedrin in front of a Jewish Crowd. Originally, the intent for the is implies total fidelity to the new testament, however, some extra biblical accounts are placed for artistic reasons (Sawyer, 2004).
The Passion of the Christ presents Christ’s suffering in more than complete detail, there are, conversely, several factors that support extra-biblical interpretations. These new representations on Christ’s suffering and death are either manifestations of director, Mel Gibson’s belief, exemplify classic representations or artistic license. Nontheless, numerous scenes from the film diverge from its New Testament source.
Extreme violence is generally part of the motion picture’s execution. The brutal treatment of Jesus is presented in the entire film. It is primarily evident on the scene en route to the Jewish Temple. A Jewish guard escorting a shackled Jesus pushes him off the side of the bridge leaving him hanging and suspended momentarily. Christ’s initial punishment is the highlight of the film’s exaggeration, as if the beating from several personalities in the Jewish crowd are not enough, the roman acolytes peeled some flesh off his bones and nearly scourged him to death. Another exaggerated treatment is seen in Christ’s crucifixion where shoulder is dislocated stretch his arm to the nail hole on the opposite vertical end of the cross plus the turning of the cross upsidedown before lifting it laterally.
The conveying of the scriptures primarily is presented in the messianic prophecy of Isaiah in the beginning of the film. The passage that the film quote is from Isaiah 53:5 stating that He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. In the message, the film gives reasons out as to why Christ suffered. The depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion in the film also conveys the pre-destined redemption of man written in the scriptures, the flashbacks of Christ’s words in the last supper are recalled as his cross is being brought up. In this regard, Jesus’ regards the bread as his body and the wine as his blood in which all mankind will be cleansed from sin.
The movie, The Passion of the Christ is a fresh approach on the biblical story of Christ’s suffering and death since it is presented in an unorthodox, yet detailed manner. The film meticulously highlights the importance of Christ’s passion and puts the entire experience in a humane point-of-view. The film exaggerates the suffering and death of Jesus but serves as a messenger ,in a theological, sense for the simple graphic truth that the movie shares the physical torture and imparts the pain of such brutality to viewers.
In a different note, the film’s violent interpretation of Christ’s passion over powers the message in the context that the movie contains scenes of ecplicit violence and carnage that it is too delicate for children and faint hearted individuals who may also require a theological refresher of the value of Jesus’ suffering. It is considerable that the movie urges reflection, but the extreme ruthlessness cannot justify the message it wants to disseminate.
The motion picture also indicates the variations of Jesus’ identity as described in the second half of the Bible, the New Testament. This is due to the reason that moast of the books of the New Testament pay tribute to Christ’s atonement for humanity. In spite of the Gospel-esque manner in which the movie is presented, it is also important to consider that the movie credits Christ’s attruism similar to the content of the Gospels and the Epistles.
The film contributes to my understanding of the Canonical Gospels of the New Testament since the movie details how Jesus paid the price for my salvation. Though, the movie is not as accurate as what truly happened, it graphically bequeathes the reason as to why Christ has to experience a more than substantial amount of agony. Moreover, the film made me understand that there is a message behind the Gospels aside from platonic depiction of historical events. Jesus in the Divine, Prophetic and Messianic sense is portrayed throughout the movie, evident in his non-violent response from the brutal treatment he is receiving which reveals his relentless devotion to fulfill his destiny. In addition, the devilish temptations in the film’s beginning does not hinder Jesus from serving the purpose of his existence.
The passion of the Christ brings the representation of the suffering and death of Jesus to a whole new dimension. The film may have its positive and negative sides, but the important factor lies in the message it attempts to convey, not on the savage content. The movie may be extremely violent, but such violemce is not included for commercial purposes, it is part of the motion picture for artistic and reflective purposes.
Davey, B., McEveety, S. (Producer), & Gibson, M. (Director). (2004). The Passion of the Christ. United States: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Sawyer, D. (2004). MelGibson’s Passion. United States: Mpi Home Video.
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