Revisiting Gibson’s Passion of the Christ (part ii)

The substantive post with an argument was from yesterday, so read that first. This is a post gathering together a few thoughts that didn’t quite fit in that argument:

1. Yes, the movie is crazy bloody, sometimes gratuitously so. The difference between what the thieves experienced and what Jesus experienced before their crucifixions is again a mark of the devotional tradition to which this film belongs overtaking other theological and historical claims about what happened. (And I still find no understanding for why the bird had to pluck out the Bad Thief’s eye.)

2. This is the first time that I recognized that Gibson told the story as the conversion story of the centurion Abenader. It is a beautiful conversion in which Abenader accompanies Jesus along the entire way through the Passion and sees the witness of Jesus’ life. If you too return to watch the film again, watch it as The Conversion of Abenader and see it if it shifts your perspective.

3. Gibson’s and Caviezel’s Jesus is astonishingly good at depicting C.S. Lewis’ Liar/Lunatic/Lord. Caviezel as Jesus is either an entirely insane cult leader or there is the possibility that he is telling the truth about Himself and the God who sent Him. The depiction of Jesus is writing, directing, acting, and editing all coming together to somehow make an interesting character out of one of the most oft depicted characters in all of literature.

4. I had much less problem with Satan played by a woman, because this time through I saw it as a female actor playing an androgynous, simultaneously beautiful and hideous role. Maybe others don’t buy that, but if “she” were intended to show that something of woman marks Satan, she would have been played as a sex symbol. In fact, she never plays any sort of female temptress to cause Jesus or anyone else to sexual lust. (Now I’m troubled by the “baby” carried by Satan.)

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