The Passion of the Christ, by Cameron J. Czaja

When I was trying to decide which film I was going to review next I was really indecisive as there are too many to choose from. Then I remembered that we are in the middle of Holy Week and what better film to review than the 2004 hit The Passion of The Christ. While I didn’t see this in theatres at the time, I have seen it plenty of times in my household and I hope to continue doing so in years to come. Full disclosure though: as I’m currently writing this review I haven’t re-watched it since last year, but I’m planning on watching it family sometime this weekend.  Is it good as my memory serves? Let’s find out.

The story of The Passion of the Christ is about . . . wait do I really need to discuss the plot of this film? I know this is usually the part of my review where I explain the premise, but I’m pretty sure everyone who is reading this has seen the film at least once in their lifetime. If you are, however, not too familiar with the film, it’s about the final hours of Jesus Christ as he makes the ultimate sacrifice and dies on the cross for our sins. Pretty simple premise to those familiar with the story of Jesus. Also, in case you’re wondering, I do enjoy this film quite a lot and if I had to be honest, I can’t find anything to criticize. I could say that the visuals are a bit dated, but really that’s all I can think of at the moment.  In this review, though, I want to talk about why this is one of the best films about our faith and why we need more films like it.

What makes The Passion of the Christ, in my opinion, a fantastic telling of Christ’s final moments on Earth was the direction used in making it. Despite his controversial background, director Mel Gibson is truly a confident director that had a fantastic vision for this film. Using period languages like Aramaic, Latin, and Hebrew was a daring yet extremely effective move on Gibson’s part. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is sometimes while watching a film where the actors are speaking perfect English though it’s clear that it’s not the native language in the area that they are in. I let it slide for animated films because I already suspend my disbelief for that genre, but for live action films it’s a bit annoying. Aside from the language, another thing I praise this movie for is its R rating. They could’ve easily made this a PG-13 film just so that they could’ve brought more people into the theater. Instead, Gibson and his team didn’t sugarcoat this story and told it the way it was supposed to be told. The violent imagery maybe intense, but it’s effective as it shows how Jesus loves us and was willing to go through a lot of pain for our sins. I know I’m most likely going to feel uncomfortable when I re-watch it this weekend, but as a cinefile, I’m glad they told this story the way it needed to be told.

As I stated earlier, I deeply enjoyed The Passion of the Christ for the approach that they took and I wish that more filmmakers could make faith based films of the same type of quality as this one. That’s not to say that I want every film to be rated R and ultra-violent, but I want to see more Christian films to be daring and make something unique that will be talked about throughout time. For those who don’t know, I’m not the biggest fan of faith-based films because of how generic and dull the majority of them tend to be. I won’t get into much detail about this film because I’m planning on doing a review for it, but the film God’s Not Dead was easily one of the worst Christian films that I’ve ever seen. This is because films like those tend to pander towards its audience and don’t go the extra mile went it comes to making a quality film. It’s something that I’ve started to notice after I saw God’s Not Dead and quite honestly my interest in that genre has started to decline. I hope one day we can get another modern film like The Passion of the Christ where they tell a story based on a book of the Bible and crafted it in a way that’s well told and well made on a technical level. I know there’s several out there already, but for some reason I’m drawing a blank at the moment. One film, however, that I could think of that’s well made and tells the Book of Exodus in a brilliant way is the animated film The Prince of Egypt, which is something I strongly recommend if you haven’t already seen it. Aside from that, I feel like mainstream cinema is lacking in quality Christian films like The Passion of the Christ and I hope to see more films similar to that in the near future.

The Passion of the Christ may not be a film that I would want to watch more than once a year, but it’s a necessary watch as it shows the love that Jesus has for us told by great filmmaking. I’m glad that the film is still talked out within our Christian society and shown during Holy Week in many parishes, though, unfortunately, not this year as most of are closed due to COVID-19. Hopefully next year, however, they’ll resume that tradition.  Until then, I look forward to re-watching it with my family soon. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter this year despite the circumstances ,and have a great rest of your Holy Week.

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