The Passion Of The Christ
Mel Gibson's controversial film gets right down to it: Jesus in the garden of Gethsamane, his betrayal, arrest and condemnation.
Anti-dramatic in structure, this is a bold piece of filmmaking, forcing us to suffer along with Christ as he is whipped and beaten, carrying the cross to Golgotha. The brutality is not realistic. No man could sustain this kind of punishment. Excessive and repetitive, it's an expressionistic violence which takes it's cue from the communion sacrament: 'This is my body: This is my blood.'
Gibson's self-appointed mission is to remind us what those oft-repeated words actually mean.
Despite this emphasis on the flesh, like most movie Christs, Jim Cavaziel's Nazarene is more the Son of God than mortal man (perhaps only Willem Dafoe in The Last Temptation of Christ gets the balance right); we don't believe his moments of doubt because Gibson doesn't share them.
Set in an Old Testament world which has not yet been saved, The Passion is, in a sense, anti-humanist. The soldiers who escort Jesus are vicious and sadistic, even the apostles are weak and cowardly. It is only through Christ's supreme sacrifice that we may be redeemed.
It's a fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture which you may or may not share. As a piece of cinema, The Passion of the Christ is sometimes crude (who knew Jesus invented the high table?!), over-reliant on slow motion, and definitely not for the faint-hearted, but you have to say it has the courage of its convictions.