Posted on 2/27/04 08:59 AM
I wanted to write this yesterday, I was all ready, I had just seen it and was pumped. okay, that's poor word choice right there. I wasn't pumped, but I was ready to write something, and what I had in mind was to be the single strongest piece on the film yet. I haven't read any reviews, save the D'Angelo capsule, but I'm sure that what I had to say at that time, and however I was going to sort it all out into nice easily consumable prose, was going to knock the socks off movie-watchers worldwide. however, sadly, that wasn't to be, for last night I was completely unable to work Internet Explorer. we won't get into the how's and the why's right now, but know this, the internet and the people who encode their pages and links and what-have-you with nasty viruses and trojans suck major balls.
so, now, I don't have that same passion, that same fire I had last night. what was going to be a rage fueled second-rate response, is now about to be an indifferent, characterless (I kid here, obviously, how could I write without strong voice? IMPOSSIBLE) booing. the first and most obvious criticism -- I should diverge for a second here, I just read the first sentence of Arrenbas's entry on The Passion, I stopped myself from reading more because I was afraid it might directly influence my own writing, I'd rather accidentally write the same thing as someone else than try, agonizingly, to write something new and original after finding a response similarly formulated to what I had in mind to write; this might be backwards thinking, but this diversion is already almost as long as the post, so I'll quit here rather than continue pontificating on that subject -- is that the film simply doesn't work on it's own. in short, because all substantive comments have to be kept as short as possible so that room left for masturbatory eccentricity, if someone watched this movie without any previous knowledge of the works and wonders of Jesus H. Christ, they'd be quite lost. Melly Mel (and I have a feeling I've misspelled that, anyone with a goodly knowledge of old school hip hop please correct me) places us the night before Jesus's crucifixion, and just after the Last Supper, Judas is selling his man out, and we are witness to The Passion's first foray into "slow motion employed with pompous gravity" [D'Angelo] (that isn't a direct direct quote, I took a couple of words out so it flowed better for my purposes) which leads to a personal, my own, observation, one worth mentioning as it's relevant to more than a few scenes in the picture: whenever Gibson wants to put across a point to the audience, he doesn't do it with exposition before the fact, which would be fine, it'd be great if he had enough faith in his audience's intelligence to expect that they might be able to put the pieces together and figure out for themselves what they should find important to pay mind to, instead he pounds it over the skulls of the helpless moviegoer, like he's a French professor and we're all antagonizing patrons of Le Rectum, with elaborate slo-mo, or startling sound effects (the woosh as Jesus steps on the serpent, the smack when a kind looker-on attempts to give Jesus, beaten to a pulp edition, etc), or swelling musical cues. this is a truly graceless picture, and Gibson is entirely incapable of subtlety. I can't express now, properly, just how angry this made me, that my intelligence was being called into question like this, by an incompetent buffoon of a director, who seems to believe gore to be synonymous with profundity, as it has been over a day, but trust that I was a might bit pissy upon my departure from the cinemaplex.
more onto the feelings: I'm just unsure what I, as a nonbeliever, am supposed to take away from The Passion Of The Christ exactly. I'm witness to a man's horrible, and unjust, torture and execution, and while he's a human and certainly deserving of empathy, and he gets mine, I don't know what deeper meaning I'm to have been imparted with. this isn't a movie set in any world I'm familiar with in any intimacy, so it doesn't hold any value as a commentary of anything contemporary, all I'm left with is that sadists are bad, perhaps, but I think I may have already gotten that one. as a purely visceral experience, I suppose it might hold some value, particularly if I got off on graphic filmic representations of beatings and torture, but, quite frankly, I'm not so sure I do. no, I don't, and I don't know if I understand what it was that Mel Gibson was trying to disclose. the effort to make the dramatic bombastic, Gibson could have used it develop characters and themes, as fakey documentaries hold little-to-no cinematic value to me, at least Scorsese, when filming his own Christ tale, had a take on it (stupid idea, nevermind). yes, this one is certainly a head scratcher, and I'm afraid not necessarily worth the price in salve (I'm a hard scratcher) to continue doing so.
I'm done and unsatisfied with the final result.