directed by Mel Gibson
USA 2004


In the last fifty years, films about the suffering of Jesus has gone from being so broad, that they couldn’t offend any religion, to being more and more theosophical with a personal twist. The two seminal works here are Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” (marxist / political) and Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” (christology / theosophical). The latest film to enter this line is Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” and where it falls short of the intellect in the two just mentioned films, it belongs to them, as, as them, it is the product of years of personal passion and religious conflicts.

Gibson’s intentions is historical accuracy. Language is “authentic”, being Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin, the costumes and set design is likewise. But here the accuracy stops. Gibson is very liberal with his interpretation of the Gospels and chooses only to tell the story of what happened in the hours following the arrest of Jesus. Instead of approach this period theosophical, he skips central passages – for instance he omits the line where Caiaphas argues, that it is better for one man to die that the nation be saved – and is far more occupied showing the physical torture and suffering of Jesus, that to display the conflicts within the people involved in this (Caiaphas, Judas, Peter, Pilates and Jesus himself). Hence, the film is an invasion on the senses and not the intellect.

Some argue this is low and easy, but one can not argue against it being effective. Its very painful to watch the physical torture. The message is clear: Look at this, see what he suffered for you, see what he went thru, before he died, for you and your sins. Personally I critic this approach, as this emotional assault is forced upon us, as if Gibson blames us, and our sins. This is underlined by the cinematography and Gibson’s mise-en-scene: As Jesus dies, we see a drop of rain fall from the sky in perspective as a teardrop from heaven, and that the very end, Gibson breaks the barriers of the screen by having Mary look directly into the audience while kneeling at her dead son. A most powerful image, as many others in the film, one can still question the intention of such a frame composition in relation to the context of the film.

But despite the critic, “The Passion of Christ” is far from a bad film, rather the opposite, it’s a extremely powerful film and has a lot in common with the political motifs of Pasolini, even though I wont compare the two films directly. By a visual representation of the suffering of Jesus, it contemporizes the passion to the imagery we see every day, when political leaders or activists are killed for their beliefs. Love it or hate it, but it remains an amazing film, full of passion.

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: February 25, 2004

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DVD Review: Scanbox - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 2:01:21 (4% PAL speedup)

2.40:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.66 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Aramaic / Latin / Hebrew, DTS Aramaic / Latin / Hebrew
Subtitles Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scanbox

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.40:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: September 6, 2004
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Chapters 15

Comments As one of the most controversial releases this year and as one of the most anticipated DVD releases, the DVD is a huge disappointment.

While it lacks the impact that only the big screen can give, the picture is stunning with its strong deep colours, so beautifully shot by Caleb Deschanel. Equally impressive is the sound, especially the DTS track. This is not a film where rears are challenged, but the sound is just “there”. The technical side is done with passion.

The disappointment of the DVD is on the supporting side, which doesn’t exist. This is a personal project by Gibson, who even produced the film out of his own pocket and by his approach was challenged and attacked from various sides. An audio commentary where Gibson would discuss his approach, his sources, the structure, the production and so forth, would not only had been anticipated, but also welcomed. The production was the passion of Gibson, but his passion certainly is lacking on this DVD, both in form of an audio commentary, a documentary, TV clips and even simple press material.

Perhaps this will come in a future 2-disc SE, perhaps never.

 - Henrik Sylow


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