H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Passion of The Christ Blu-ray

(Mel Gibson, 2004)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio: Sony - Region 'A'

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Chapters: 15

Feature film: 1080p / MPEG-4 AVC Video

Disc Size: 41,430,703,642 bytes

Feature Size: 28,268,316,672 bytes / ReCut Version: 26,899,064,832 bytes

Time: Extended: 2:06:32 / ReCut Version: 2:01:51

Total Bitrate: 29.79 Mbps

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Aramaic/Latin/Hebrew 3959 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3959 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
 

 

Subtitles:

English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, none

 

Extras

• Commentary for the visually impaired (original version only)

• Filmmaker Commentary with Mel Gibson, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and Editor John Wright (original version only)

• Production Commentary with Producer Stephen McEveety,Second Unit Director Ted Rae and Visual Effects Producer Kevin Vanderhan (original version only)

• Theological Commentary with Mel Gibson, Language Consultant Father William Fulco, Theologians Gerry Matatics and Father John Bartunek (original version only)

• Music Commentary with composer John Debney (selected scenes - original version only)

• Seamlessly Branched ReCut version of The Passion of The Christ (4:41 shorter)

• Biblical pop-up Footnotes (original version only)

 

Disc 2 - dual-layered DVD

"Filmmaking"
His Wounds We Are Healed: Making The Passion of the Christ (21 Chapters - 1:40:15)
Below the Line Panel Discussion (13:49)
Two deleted scenes (Pilate - 2:07, Don't Cry - 2:25) - 4:3 widescreen
"The Legacy"
Through the Ages (11:56)
Paths on a Journey (9:22)
On Language (12:44)
Crucifixion: Punishment in the Ancient World (17:26)
Anno Domini (10:02)
"Galleries"
Production Art
Art Images
Characters and Their Actors
Unit Photography
Trailers and TV Spots
DVD Credits

 

Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard sleeve

Release Date: February 10th, 2009

 

Summary: After all the controversy and rigorous debate has subsided, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ will remain a force to be reckoned with. In the final analysis, "Gibson's Folly" is an act of personal bravery and commitment on the part of its director, who self-financed this $25-30 million production to preserve his artistic goal of creating the Passion of Christ ("Passion" in this context meaning "suffering") as a quite literal, in-your-face interpretation of the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus, scripted almost directly from the gospels (and spoken in Aramaic and Latin with a relative minimum of subtitles) and presented as a relentless, 126-minute ordeal of torture and crucifixion. For Christians and non-Christians alike, this film does not "entertain," and it's not a film that one can "like" or "dislike" in any conventional sense. (It is also emphatically not a film for children or the weak of heart.) Rather, The Passion is a cinematic experience that serves an almost singular purpose: to show the scourging and death of Jesus Christ in such horrifically graphic detail (with Gibson's own hand pounding the nails in the cross) that even non-believers may feel a twinge of sorrow and culpability in witnessing the final moments of the Son of God, played by Jim Caviezel in a performance that's not so much acting as a willful act of submission, so intense that some will weep not only for Christ, but for Caviezel's unparalleled test of endurance...

 

 

 

 

The Film:

Is the film "good" or "great?" I imagine each person's reaction (visceral, theological, artistic) will differ. I was moved by the depth of feeling, by the skill of the actors and technicians, by their desire to see this project through no matter what. To discuss individual performances, such as James Caviezel's heroic depiction of the ordeal, is almost beside the point. This isn't a movie about performances, although it has powerful ones, or about technique, although it is awesome, or about cinematography (although Caleb Deschanel paints with an artist's eye), or music (although John Debney supports the content without distracting from it).

It is a film about an idea. An idea that it is necessary to fully comprehend the Passion if Christianity is to make any sense. Gibson has communicated his idea with a singleminded urgency. Many will disagree. Some will agree, but be horrified by the graphic treatment. I myself am no longer religious in the sense that a long-ago altar boy thought he should be, but I can respond to the power of belief whether I agree or not, and when I find it in a film, I must respect it.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 

 

 

Image :       NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

The 1080P transfer correctly alters from heavy grain in dark sequences to relative pristine sharpness in daylight. It moves between the two with a nice balance that supports Caleb Deschanel's wonderful cinematography of The Passion of the Christ. Certain clarity shots seem indelible while others haunt. The film appears to respect the original intent without manipulations. Although it can be a hard film to watch - it is also very impressive visually on Blu-ray. It is seamlessly branched to include the 'ReCut' version (about 4.5 minutes shorter) and the disc is dual-layered giving just less than 30gig to each presentation. Overall the image quality is very strong adding another layer to the film's deep and unbound progression. Kudos to the Art Direction as well. Contrast (rich, deep black levels), colors and detail are all highly satisfying with only minor background noise as a limited detraction. 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: There is but one track - a DTS-HD master in 5.1 Aramaic/Latin and Hebrew language spoken. The audio, like the image does a complete job of supporting The Passion of the Christ with some separation and crisp sound effects penetrating through the Surround channels. John Debney's score runs passively beside the film in a perfect marriage to the visuals. When it speaks grander tones - it can chill. There are no DUBs and subtitle options in multiple languages. We've been informed that this Blu-ray disc is region FREE.

Extras: Supplements appear to duplicate the Definitive DVD edition with 4 commentaries - all on the original version only and all in 2.0 channel - (5 if you count the one for the the visually impaired) covering the following aspects of the film production - 'Filmmaking' with Mel Gibson, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and Editor John Wright, 'Production' with Producer Stephen McEveety, Second Unit Director Ted Rae and Visual Effects Producer Kevin Vanderhan, 'Theological' with Gibson again, Language Consultant Father William Fulco, Theologians Gerry Matatics and Father John Bartunek and 'Music' with composer John Debney. The latter in selected scenes. As an aside - I enjoyed the Theological one with interesting historical facts coming to light and the 'Production' perhaps the least interesting. The Blu-ray disc also offers the seamlessly branched ReCut version of The Passion of The Christ (4:41 shorter) and Biblical pop-up footnotes on the original version only.

 

The second disc is a dual-layered DVD and divides the extras into three segments "Filmmaking", "The Legacy" and "Galleries". Most notable of these is the documentary - His Wounds We Are Healed: Making The Passion of the Christ which is 21 chapters running 1:40:15. It covers a lot of ground with a tons of input from those involved - the desired goal and its impact on the filmmakers. Really quite good, if occasionally sporadic, and very thorough. I also enjoyed Crucifixion: Punishment in the Ancient World as an education of that barbaric practice and there are 5 other similarly long featurettes including Below the Line Panel Discussion (13:49), Through the Ages (11:56), Paths on a Journey (9:22), On Language (12:44) and Anno Domini (10:02). Aside from the Galleries on Production Art, Art Images etc. there are two inconsequential deleted scenes (Pilate - 2:07, Don't Cry - 2:25) in 4:3 widescreen letterboxed. Nothing HD exclusive but very complete regardless.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE : As most are aware this is a film surrounded by controversies. As Jeff Shannon states, "Leave it to the intelligentsia to debate the film's alleged anti-Semitic slant...". As akin to many individual's interpretation of the Bible (or The Bible itself)- this is just grouped opinion of, questionable, historical events. I can watch and enjoy The Ernie Davis Story or JFK without succumbing to an un-shatter-able belief that the events onscreen are totally fair and 100% factual. This is the illusion of cinema. The Passion of The Christ was not made to appease every sect, group or committee. No film on this subject matter could. It seems almost impossible not to credit Gibson's work with some enduring legacy as a work of art. It's beautiful but also very painful to watch - there is extreme violence (watch out). But I was prepared and tried not to let that impact negatively on my viewing. This Blu-ray is highly impressive for a viewing experience for both audio and visual elements of the filmmaking process. It's stacked with supplements and, love it or hate it, the transfer and package, like the film itself, deserve respect. This is probably as good as Passion will look and sound for home theater viewing.   

Gary Tooze

February 9th, 2009

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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