Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ is a powerful piece of cinema. It’s a breathtaking, bravura biblical epic which resonates on multiple levels. Gibson’s film has no compromises. The filmmaker set out to tell a story and he delivered a film – which while divisive – is a masterpiece.
The 2004 film is beautifully shot, well acted and the story is captivating. Gibson’s passion (no pun intended) shines through, it’s a personal film for him, and it shows. Building on the historical filmmaking style which Gibson used for Braveheart (and later ob Apocalypto), The Passion is richly textured and feels like it belongs in the real world. There’s an earthiness to film which captures a real sense of place – you can taste the dust, the sweat and the blood.
Forget the naysayers who claim that The Passion is anti-Semitic – that’s a way of attacking the film by those who don’t understand what Gibson was trying to achieve. This is The Bible as I know it.
Jim Caviezel gives the performance of his career as Jesus. He transforms himself into Christ and you can see the agony in his eyes. A Catholic himself, Caviezel connects with the material in a visceral way and he seems to fully understand what Gibson is attempting to do. He offers himself up, so the director can create his vision.
Caleb Deschanel’s Academy Award nominated cinematography is rich and textured. It’s a stunning looking film which is reminiscent of a religious oil painting. You can almost see the brush strokes on the canvas. It looks and feels like a living Caravaggio painting (Deschanel’s work is phenomenal).
This adds another element to The Passion, building on the script and adding even more religious authenticity. This isn’t a film made to make money, it was created to be a thought provoking piece of art.
The Passion Of The Christ is a cinematic epic that Hollywood refused to make – and Mel Gibson banked his reputation on it. It’s a powerful piece of filmmaking that deals with religion, faith and catholicism. It’s not an enjoyable film to watch, it was never meant to be – it needs to be experienced. Gibson stumped-up the film’s $30 million budget, but it was a risk worth taking. The film connected with audiences around the world on a huge scale, and it grossed more than $370 million in the US, $241 million in other territories for a huge $612 million global total.