For those who came in late, Mel Gibson relented and subtitles are found throughout The Passion. Unlike Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon though, Chinese wasn't spoken. Instead, Aramaic and Latin. Presumed languages of the day and while it would have been great to experience an alternate reality borne of the string theories to witness the movie without the subtitles, that's a feat for more travelled Sliders.
Armed with the main gist of The Bible over years of references and sidebars would be enough to weather through the foreign tongues and faces of the men and women who show up during the course of the film. Flashbacks present a rounded way of setting up and showing how these people came to know and walk with Jesus.
Holy spirit! Where were the trailers in the lead up to this? Missing and replaced by the furore over the anti-Semitism that's there for the hooked in many. If the Jews were angered by anything—apart from being blamed for Jesus' death and showing the people how they get others to do their dirty work—they should include the fact that the Rabbis resemble Smokey, the wiry and homeless crack addict from Eddie Murphy's The PJ's.
Jesus Christ, the violence is a beautifully unrelenting wave of graphic and bloody flesh. Skin work on Jim Caviezel's body is amazing and delicate. Chunks of skin just dangling by nerves off his body and a mighty fine beard point toward the excruciating and meticulous make-up work involved.
Simple counting lessons in Latin are provided for those squeamish looking down into their chest. There were quite a few on this early morning Ash Wednesday screening. Numbers run past or close to twenty. When attention is given toward feeling each hit on Jesus' body, there's a slight chance of miscounting and forgetting how many lashes the man has so far taken. One short of forty it would seem, lest the Messiah be truly scourged.
Either the albino from Powder was loose or one of the pre-cogs of Minority Report zapped themselves back into the past. Sexually ambiguous this being. With the mysterious apparition every now and then it felt like the film was going to descend into an ever greater level of fantasy and overt special effects. Shy of that it would appear to be the devil himself, Satan, glammed in gear respectable for a goth.
When the lights were raised for the credits to roll, around 20 of the audience remained for their entirety. They seemed like the type who were there when the bulk of the credits appeared at the start of films. Within their ranks, two nuns and a few marked with religious tattoos. They seemed rather pleased by the whole flogging of their anointed one. They were too facial in that regard as they soon found themselves the target of questioning by one woman who seemed transformed.
A middle-aged woman—who had been running a hushed commentary with her friend—found the nailing of Jesus to the cross at the crucifixion scene all too unbearable. So unbearable that she ran out of the theatre screaming and crying her head off. Half of the people stopped their crying for a second and the other half were caught between two focal points with their mouths agape. Having just moved away from the seat behind, due mainly to the fear that the old man behind was about to die from inhaling his throat, there's no way of knowing if it was a performance piece or a truly sympathetic audience member. Two children in the rear of the theatre weren't at all bothered by the film.
"And... always look on the bright side of life..."
Reviewed on Wednesday, 25 February 2004