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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word
With Addendum, March 3, 2004
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(2004), R -- ... the first time I've seen a story of the Truth told truthfully.
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Icon Productions
Distribution (US): Newmarket Film Group, Icon Entertainment International
Director(s): Mel Gibson
Producer(s): Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, Stephen McEveety, Enzo Sisti
Screenplay: Benedict Fitzgerald, Mel Gibson
Cinematography/Camera: Caleb Deschanel
Music: John Debney
Casting: Shaila Rubin
Production Design: Francesco Frigeri
Viewd at: Loews City Place, Dallas, Texas
Permission was graciously granted by Icon Productions to post this analysis prior to the release date of February 25th - Ash Wednesday.
This is the first time I've seen a story of the Truth told truthfully. The Passion of the Christ, shot entirely in Italy at Matera and Cincecita Studios just outside Rome, is viciously brutal and intensely violent, but it truthfully depicts what Jesus suffered for you and I that we might have eternal Life. Several times I've spoken to this audience about the horrendous violations against our Lord's body after He was tried and falsely convicted of blasphemy and as He walked the trek to the Place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is Golgotha) [Mark 15:22]; about how His flesh was ripped to ribbons by being scourged*, His body was beaten, kicked, struck and spat upon then nailed to a cross to die. The Passion of the Christ faithfully depicts these horrors inflicted upon our Lord -- gruesomely -- in the last 12 hours of His life on earth. Beneath the heinous surface of the movie, it was clearly portrayed that it was Jesus' Will that He submit Himself to such atrocities, atrocities He could have stopped with a simple thought but He did not in order that we all may know His Love for us. The foundation verse for this film is John 15:13 where Jesus speaks of there being no greater love than laying one's life down for his friends." And that is precisely what Jesus did.
* Scourged means whipped with a mutli-cord whip with sharp metal bits at the end of each cord.
Under the CAP Analysis Model the content of The Passion of the Christ earned scores equivalent to scores earned by G rated movies in Sexual Immorality and Drugs/Alcohol in the comparative baseline database of movies, to the scores earned by PG movies in Offense to God (witchcraft, Satanism, occult, etc) and Murder/Suicide and to the scores earned by PG-13 movies in Impudence/Hate. But in Wanton Violence/Crime, this movie could not have been more "R." The Passion of the Christ earned a lower Wanton Violence/Crime score than American History X. If I removed the investigation area scoring display limiters that display as zero any less-than-zero scores, the score in Wanton Violence/Crime would be -442. This reveals another great feature of the CAP analysis model. It identifies the areas of concentration of invasive programming and is clearly displayed in the CAP thermometers. The heaviest concentration of invasive programming in The Passion of the Christ is obviously in Wanton Violence/Crime.
Though this movie is a faithful depiction of the unimaginable terrors our Lord suffered for our sakes, it is a movie. It is entertainment. Violent entertainment. Thus the reason for the zero score in the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area. It was not Jesus in the film. It was Jim Caviezel in the full-body moulage,. That it is truthful to the actual events does not excuse exposing your kids to it unless you, mom/dad, say so. There is where the brutal objectivity of the CAP analysis model (the Findings/Scoring section) becomes most valuable. If a scene is violent, the CAP model notes it as such whether "justified" by actual events or not. (See the "BEFORE You Read On..." link.)
Regarding Jim Caviezel, he spent so much time in full-body make-up that his skin blistered. Jim also spent much of his time in a loin cloth in the Italian winter, sometimes unable to speak due to the cold. Jim was obviously so absorbed into the part that he was able to overcome a lung infection, numerous cuts and bruises and a shoulder dislocation to finish the picture. Interesting to say the least, while working on Golgotha, Jim was struck by lightning -- then got up and walked away. Obviously his part in the film was a labor of love for Jim. And it may be obvious to some that God intended for this film to be finished, the leading actor's miseries notwithstanding.
"Passion" is taken from the Latin word for suffering but it also means profound and transcendent love. It would not be possible to give this film a better name, for this film is both: the unfathomable suffering He endured for our sakes and His profound and transcendent love for us that led Him to allow man, they whom He loves, to commit the most horrendous murder of the most innocent Man in history.
Though this is only a movie, it is [subjectively] the most powerful of the more than 1500 I have seen. Attention to detail and realism was as extensive as our cinematic technology will allow. As an example of the attention to detail and realism, the dilation of our Lord's pupils was shown as He gave up the Ghost, though the dilation was a lot faster than is typical of dilation due to death. Even I, one who has seen in film every imaginable gore, shuddered in shame (shame for my sins that put Jesus in this situation) and looked away as the Roman whipmaster, with glee on his face, embedded the metal bits at the ends of the scourge cords into our Lord then yanked them out ... and pieces of our Lord with them. Brutally. Viciously. Sadistically. Yes, this movie is that violent. Beyond the capacity of words to tell. And you need to know that if you are contemplating taking your little ones with you to see it. And, yes, Judas (Luca Lionello) is seen hanging by the neck.
There is another reason why taking your younger little ones might be ill-advised. This movie is sub-titled. Mel had the actors and actresses speak in the language actually spoken at the time, Aramaic for the Jews and "street Latin" for the Romans. While ample time is available for the reader to capture all the text while still being able to absorb the visuals, a child who cannot read or reads very elementarily or slow will be saturated with raw, sadistic violence without any language.
I remember from The Apostle in which Euliss "Sonny" Dewey (Robert Duvall) as preacher The Apostle E. F. lifted a baby from the audience of the church he had planted and asked if anyone in the audience could love that baby enough to let him be killed; could love him enough to let spikes be driven through his hands and feet; love him enough to let him be speared, beaten, spat upon, tortured and whipped within an inch of his life. No one answered. But God did. He answered the question before it was asked. God sent His perfect Baby to earth to be killed in Sacrifice for our sins (that is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God) that we might have eternal Life in Paradise. That is how much He loves us. And The Passion of the Christ shows us His Love. Graphically but truthfully.
Casting a woman as Satan? Though her gender is never obvious in the film, the part was played by the androgynous Rosalinda Celentano. God makes it abundantly clear by His Word that Satan is masculine. However, this may be another clever device of Gibson to express to us and remind/warn us that Satan can appear in any form. Celentano with shaved eyebrows was indeed well suited for the part. Her demeanor and countenance combined with the slow motion photography clearly depicted Satanic deviousness and hunger for evil.
If anyone who is unsure about a mother's love for her son and the anguish she would feel seeing these things happen to him, note the performances of Rumanian mother-to-be Maia Morgenstern as Mary, mother of Jesus. I was invited to a round table interview with her today (Friday, February 20, 2004) but was unable to attend. I just spoke with Maia by phone and apologized for not being able to be there and told her of her outstanding heart in this film.
I am not going to go into the story and plot since, as evidenced by your visit to this Christian ministry, you likely know the story. If you do not know the story of the life of Jesus Christ, you can know it intimately by reading the Gospel - the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
The Passion of the Christ. Surely this film will lodge itself in the memory of they who view it for a long time to come. Well done, Mel. Congratulations on the realization of a 12-year dream and the Spiritual answer you received by it.
Special thanks go to the good people at Icon Productions who made it possible for me to get into a pre-release private screening of The Passion of the Christ and to firefighter DM who sponsored the mileage for the 180 mile round trip to the theater showing the pre-release private screening.
Please consider inspecting the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before you make your decision whether to let your kids see this film or whether to see it yourself.
Before closing I want to leave in your mind, hopefully before you see the film, our Lord's admonishment of us regarding His crucifixion and the mutilation He suffered [John 14:27 - 28]. In each of the KJV and NIV translations Jesus tells us to be at peace with the coming crucifixion, not to fret about it, not to pity Him for it but rather to rejoice in it if we love Him. I know that is a hard pill to swallow since we love Him so much we cringe at the heinous horrors He suffered for our sakes. But remember if you view this film that Jesus came knowing He would suffer these evils and did so willingly but He did not come to parade His miseries or His mutilated body. He came to save us by His Sacrifice in a message of eternal Salvation by believing in His Lordship and His Resurrection. He sought not pity or sorrow by the insane brutality He willingly and knowingly suffered for our sakes. We do not need to know the monstrous evils He took upon Himself to come to know and love Him. We do not have to feel sorry for Jesus to invite Him into our lives.
Jesus left for us a free gift. The gift of eternal Life in Heaven if we accept that He is Lord and the resurrected Savior. Would you like to invite Him into your heart and be given the free gift of eternal Life in Heaven? If so, do so now! Don't wait until you feel better about it or when it is a little more convenient. Right now. Find a private place and speak the following prayer to Jesus from your heart:
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.
As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
|There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.|