I just saw The Passion of the Christ, and I don't have anything to say about it.

Ok, I've thought about the movie more, and now I have a few things to say. This won't be a review, and it will certainly contain spoilers -- if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want any of the details given away, stop reading.

First of all, none of the violence really connected with me. I've never been hurt like that, I can't imagine what it would be like, and it was just so far beyond my experience that it seemed surreal. It's unlikely that Jesus was scourged as severely as was depicted, because no one could survive that kind of massive pain and blood loss without going into shock and passing out. I don't doubt there were sadistic Roman torturers who might have done such a thing, I just don't think it happened quite that way in this instance because he survived long enough to be crucified.

The two scenes that impacted me the most weren't directly related to the violence, but to two peripheral character I could really identify with. The first was in the temple when Jesus was being judged and Peter denied to the crowd that he knew him. Jesus looked up at him at just the right moment, and I could feel the same shame inside that Peter must have felt. How many times have I been in the same situation? Denying Christ by my words or actions whenever circumstances get a bit uncomfortable?

The second scene was when the Romans conscripted Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry his cross. Simon was understandably reluctant to get mixed up in the apparently awful affair and yelled to the watching crowd, "Just remember I'm an innocent man, forced to carry the cross of a condemned man!" This precisely wrong assessment drove home to me the reality of the situation. Jesus was the only innovent man there, and he was carrying the cross for all of us.

I'll probably go see the movie again in a while, but not immediately. It's well conceived and well executed, and accurate enough to give a viewer familiar with the back-story a full appreciation of Jesus' last hours. Some of the sequences were unnnecessarily long for notably Catholic reasons -- for instance, Mr. Gibson dragged on Jesus' march to Golgotha so that he could include all seven stations of the cross. I'm sure there were other instances as well that I couldn't recognize, since I'm not Catholic, but they didn't detract much from the movie.

The Passion made me think, and I'm not done thinking about it yet. I may have more to say later.



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