There have been many articles/ comments on this film, so there's not much more to add but I can give you my personal reaction to some aspects of it.
For me, who never watches violent movies, I found that it was utter violence from beginning to end. It seemed like a typical modern blood and gore movie. Perhaps, those who may be used to seeing a lot of violence in movies won't notice it as much as I did. There was so much violence that even the few flashback scenes hardly brought any sense of God's love and goodness to the picture.
However, there are a couple of points I'd like to make that I haven't seen dealt with in the media.
First, I don't believe that any human being could undergo that amount of violence and still live. The lashes would have burst so many blood vessels that blood would have literally poured out and it didn't. Jesus would have been dead from the loss of blood long before he got to the cross
Or is there something else operating here? Is Gibson depicting Jesus as God and not Jesus as human? During different periods in the Church, there was a strong emphasis on Jesus as God, almost to the exclusion of his humanity. In other words, as some early heresies suggested, he was only pretending to be human.
Right from the early councils, the Church has consistently fought against this tendency.
However, some of that inclination remained and, I believe, was present, to some degree, in our pre-Vatican II theology which Gibson apparently espouses.
Yet, Scripture tells us, Jesus was fully human in all things except sin. We know he felt human emotions: anger at the moneychangers in the Temple, sorrow at the death of his friend Lazarus, caring for the suffering, temptation in the desert and, yes, suffering in the Passion. But, as a human, could he have survived the brutality inflicted on him in the movie? I doubt it.
The Gospels do not belabour his sufferings. A phrase, a sentence or two suffice. Why? I believe that, as a post-resurrection community, they saw the passion and death through the eyes of the resurrected and glorified Jesus. And that is what, I believe, we need to do.
This does not mean that we sugarcoat his suffering. Jesus suffered horribly for our sins and in gratitude we give our all to him in love and service.
But it seems to me, to present two hours of unmitigated violence to be simply gratifying our society's seemingly constant need to watch violence. In this way, in spite of his good intentions, Gibson does a disservice to Christ and the Christian community.
Why is the devil a woman?
Another point that I haven't heard mentioned kept me wondering into the night. It's his image of the devil as a woman holding a mature child.
Rarely, if ever, do we see the devil represented as a woman so why did he use this image? Does the woman represent Eve, the temptress (enticing Adam to sin) but also the mother of all, and therefore, the child representing humanity, sinners in the clutches of the devil? I wonder.
Some of the early Church writers considered all women as temptresses and there is still some of this tendency today. Is this where Gibson gets his idea for the devil? I don't know but it's not something we, Christians, would like to see revived.
He says he follows the Gospel accounts but into his story he weaves a number of things that aren't in the Gospels, some from the visions of a mystic. I believe we need to understand that revelations to saints or mystics are not a matter of faith, that is, we don't need to believe them.
If you want to be touched by the account of the Passion of Christ, reflect on the Gospels. I suggested this to a moviegoer (wearing ashes) after the film and she responded, "I don't need to read the Gospels." So, what does that mean? Do we let movie producers determine our faith?
Or go see The Gospel of John by Garth Drabinsky which is showing in some theatres presently. That is a faithful following of John's Gospel, without the excessive and gory brutality of Gibson's film.
Or go to the Drumheller Passion Play in July. I saw it just after returning from the Holy Land and I was deeply affected by its moving portrayal in a realistic outdoor setting. I felt that I was experiencing the Passion with Jesus after following in his footsteps in Galilee and Jerusalem.