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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

The Passion of the Christ (2004)


Cast:

  • Mel Gibson, Director/Writer

  • Benedict Fitzgerald, Writer

  • John Debney, Music

  • Jim Caviezel as Jesus Christ

  • Maia Morgenstern as Mary, the mother of Jesus

  • Christo Jivkov as John

  • Francesco De Vito as Peter

  • Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene

  • Mattia Sbragia as Caiaphas

  • Toni Bertorelli as Annas ben Seth

  • Luca Lionello as Judas Iscariot

  • Hristo Naumov Shopov as Pontius Pilate

  • Claudia Gerini as Claudia Procles

  • Fabio Sartor as Abenader

  • Giacinto Ferro as Joseph of Arimathea

  • Olek Mincer as Nicodemus


*Recognition:

  • The Passion of the Christ opened in the United States on February 25, 2004.

  • The film tied with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King's record for having the highest five-day Wednesday opening. Moreover, The Passion of the Christ scored the second biggest opening weekend for any R-rated movie, behind The Matrix Reloaded. It went on to earn $370.8 million overall in the United States, and remains the highest grossing R-rated film in the domestic market.

  • Despite the many controversies and refusals by some governments to allow the film to be viewed in wide release, The Passion of the Christ earned $612 million worldwide on a budget of $30 million. The film was also a relative success in certain countries with large Muslim populations, such as in Egypt, where it ranked 20th overall in its box office numbers for 2004. The film was the highest grossing non-English-language film of all time until 2017, when it was surpassed by Wolf Warrior 2.

  • The film would go on to have a similar impact in the DVD/Home Video/Rental market as well.

  • At the time of its release, The Passion of the Christ was widely deadpanned for its use of violence and for its overall message, but maintained a few favorable critics including Roger Ebert. Additionally, the film would still receive three Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score, Makeup, and Cinematography.

  • The film has since endured many different controversies including a variety of accusations of anti-Semitism.

  • The Passion of the Christ currently holds a 49% among critics on RT, a 47 score on Metacritic, and a 3.3/5 on Letterboxd.


What is this movie about?/Elevator Pitch: It was sold as a brutal look at what Christ had to go through to be the sacrifice for the world's sins, and, while it does that at times, the focus of the movie wavers too often to say it is only about that.


Plot Summary: "The Passion of the Christ", directed by Mel Gibson, depicts the final hours of Jesus Christ's life, focusing primarily on the lead up to his crucifixion. The movie portrays Jesus' betrayal by Judas Iscariot, his trial before Pontius Pilate, the brutal scourging and mocking by Roman soldiers, and ultimately, his crucifixion and death. The film is notable for its graphic and intense depiction of the events of Jesus' suffering and death, aiming to provide a visceral and emotional experience for viewers. Through its portrayal of Jesus' sacrifice, "The Passion of the Christ" explores themes of redemption, faith, and the enduring power of love and forgiveness.


Did You Know:

  • In interviews with Newsweek magazine and several other media, Jim Caviezel spoke about the difficulties he experienced while filming. This included being accidentally whipped twice, which has left a 14-inch scar on his back, and dislocating his shoulder from the weight of the cross. Caviezel also admitted he was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount and during the crucifixion. His hair actually caught fire from this, but he was otherwise miraculously unharmed. The scenes of him hanging on the cross in the dead of Italian winter (with temperatures of 25°F/-4°C and 30-knot winds) caused him to contract hypothermia and pneumonia. Finally, because make-up was used to create a swollen eye, his lack of depth perception gave him migraine headaches.

  • It would usually take over 10 hours to put Jim Caviezel into the scourged makeup. On some of those days, it would happen that the weather conditions turned out to be unsuitable for filming. To avoid spending more hours to have it removed and re-applied the next day, he kept it on and went to bed in full make-up.

  • During the scourging scene, Jim Caviezel accidentally got whipped twice. A whipping post that would take the blows was set up behind him so that the camera wouldn't pick it up, but one of the actors accidentally missed it and hit Caviezel instead. The first time it hurt so much that it knocked the wind out of him, with Caviezel stating that "I may be playing Jesus, but I felt like Satan at that moment", causing him to curse out in pain at the other actor. The second time it caused him to wrench his hand quickly from his shackles, scraping his wrist badly. The remainder of the scourging scenes were finished by using visual effects: the actors playing Roman soldiers held sticks without the leather tails, and acted out the whipping motion, while Caviezel would react as if hit. The tails were later digitally composited into the shots. Make-up wounds on Caviezel's body were digitally covered until the actual hit by the whip, creating the illusion that they suddenly appeared.

  • When Jesus speaks the words "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" as he looks up to the sky, his pupils dilate. This is a common sign of death, as all the muscles in one's body relax completely.

  • According to Caleb Deschanel, the majority of the movie was shot with a speed above the normal 24 frames per second. This created a sense of relative 'slow motion' in most scenes, which gave the performances and events more weight and drama.


Best Performance: Mel Gibson (Director/Writer)/Jim Caviezel (Jesus)

Best Secondary Performance: Jim Caviezel (Jesus)/Maia Morgenstern (Mother Mary)

Most Charismatic Award: Hristo Naumov Shopov (Pilate)/Monica Belucci (Mary Magdalene)

Best Scene:

  • The Trial of Jesus

  • Before Pilate (2nd)

  • Flagellation

  • Carrying the Cross

  • Crucifixion

Favorite Scene: Before Pilate (2nd)

Most Indelible Moment: Flagellation/Crucifixion


In Memorium:


Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

None


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 7

Impact/Significance: 8

Novelty: 6.5

Classic-ness: 5.25

Rewatchability: 2.75

Audience Score: 8.6 (92% Google, 80% RT)

Total: 38.1


Remaining Questions:

  • Why does the devil have a Benjamin Button baby?

  • Why is there so much time spent on peripheral stories?

  • Did we need 15-20 slow motion moments in this movie? Why did we have to have a slow motion blood spatter when they were driving in the nails for the cross like this was the movie 300?

  • Why is the devil depicted as someone with clear allusions to being transgender?

  • If you can openly see a ribcage, wouldn't it be likely that Christ's lung would have been punctured and killed him before he even got on the cross?

  • Is the upcoming sequel just a cash grab?

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