A powerfully moving, emotionally scarring & extremely harrowing portrait of the final hours of Jesus Christ’s life, The Passion of the Christ is definitely not for the easily distressed. Counted amongst the most controversial works since its release, it is also one of the most graphically violent films ever made.
The Passion of the Christ depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The story begins with his arrest after being betrayed by one of his disciples, following which he is brought to trial where he is accused of blasphemy, and is eventually sentenced to death that’s carried out by crucifixion.
Directed by Mel Gibson, his creative eye for storytelling is no doubt impressive but the excessive barbarism on display here makes the film an endlessly disturbing sit that’s nearly impossible to forget. Leaving no stone unturned, Gibson delivers a biblical drama that isn’t just brutal, merciless & unforgiving but also profoundly affecting.
The storytelling is mostly through the visuals, and the decision to use era-specific languages instead of English is simply an attempt to give the film an added sense of authenticity. Production design team puts up appropriate set pieces, bringing Jerusalem to life in splendid detail. And apart from its dialed-up cruelty & other little elements, it’s quite faithful to its source of inspiration.
Employing the camera in a controlled fashion, Cinematography makes effective use of slow-mo, close-ups & wisely chosen angles in order to deliver maximum impact. Editing unfolds its 127 minutes runtime at a steady pace and though the story feels slow at first, it catches up real soon. And John Debney contributes with a fitting score that often manages to evoke the desired emotive response.
Coming to the performances, The Passion of the Christ features a fine cast in Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Hristo Zhivkov & others. Caviezel is thoroughly compelling in what’s a physically demanding & emotionally draining input while Morgenstern is even better as the Virgin Mary, expressing the inner agony of a mother in a very precise & perceptible manner.
On an overall scale, The Passion of the Christ is destined to polarise its audience but its visceral power & emotional impact cannot be denied. It’s worth stressing again that this is going to be a very upsetting & distressing cinematic experience for every viewer, religious or not, and isn’t recommended to those who are easily triggered. For me, The Passion of the Christ is one of the best films of its year and certainly one of Mel Gibson’s finest. A unique & unforgettable experience.