Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ: a Detailed Analysis

Published: 2021-09-22 02:00:09
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Passionate about the Passion: In depth look at The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ details the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life. For the most part, the movie follows a well weaved story line based on the four Gospels. In addition to the traditional cobbling of the story, Gibson fleshes out the spiritual relationship that Jesus had as the Son of God with the devil. Gibson also makes interesting story arch choices when it comes to prolonging the set up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, while Jesus is praying, the devil appears and starts to taunt Jesus, telling Him that it is a task too heavy for one man to carry. This prompts Jesus’ biblical response “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Ironically, in Luke, it is an Angel who visits Jesus, in the garden, not Satan (Luke 22:43). Throughout the rest of the movie, Satan appears looming around. One such time is right before Judas, Jesus’ betrayer, hangs himself. After Judas tries to return the money and get Jesus released, he finds himself being followed by demonic children with Satan popping in and out of the swarm of demon possessed children. Judas finds himself in the wilderness and hangs himself near a dead donkey: a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death as Christ rode into Jerusalem the week prior on a donkey. None of this is in the Bible. Judas’ death is only mentioned in Matthew 27:5 where it says, “throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he (Judas) departed; and he went and hanged himself.” During Jesus’ flogging (Matthew, Mark, and John) Satan is seen moving eerily through the crown carrying a child, the anti-Christ? Satan’s last appearance is right when Jesus dies. Satan screams and the audience sees Satan in some otherworldly place. It doesn’t look like traditional Hell, but the devil is in some other worldly place. All the scenes with Satan are not found anywhere in the Bible, though I think it was a good choice on Gibson’s part to show that Jesus’ sacrifice had an effect in both the earthly and spiritual realms.A good chunk of the movie is Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod playing hot potato with Jesus, when, really, this passing of the baton only happened in Luke. In Matthew, Mark, and John, Jesus is first taken to the high Jewish priests before He is taken to Pilate to be sentenced to death. It is only in Luke that He is taken from the temple complex, to Pilate, then to Herod (who just happened to be in Jerusalem), then back to Pilate before He is crucified. The decision to go with Luke’s version of the sentencing story gave the viewers a good look at King Herod, who looks quite girly and seems only interested in getting Jesus to perform a miracle for him (textually correct from Luke 23:8 , though we don’t know what Herod looks like). This feminine portrayal of Herod could mean that he was made to be seen in as weak and inferior to Pilate.
Side notes: the movie was all in Aramaic, Latin, and Hebrew (“The Passion of the Christ”). Jesus’ eyes seem to change color? Why? Is this some sort of divine genetics? What happened to Jesus’ siblings? The Bible references Mary and Joseph’s other children but the movie flashbacks only show Mary and Jesus. Joseph of Arimatha is one of the only things clearly mentioned in all four Gospels but is not in the movie. All accounts of Jesus being mocked say that He is dressed in a purple robe, but the movie puts Him in a red robe. Why is Pilate’s wife suddenly so important? She is only mentioned in one of the Gospels but is given a name in the movie (Claudia means lame, so it’s not even a very fitting name for the Gentile woman who gets a dream from God and tries to convince her governor husband not to kill Jesus). Aside from a whole slew of questions that arise mainly from trying to keep the story going and interesting, as the story in the Bible takes up only a few pages, The Passion of the Christ was a movie that weaved all four Gospels together in a way that stayed true to the Biblical text while making a clear and coherent story.

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