Passion of the Christ

Passion of the Christ

4.5 133
Director: Mel Gibson

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Mel Gibson's well-publicized production The Passion of the Christ concerns the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The dialogue is spoken in the ancient Aramaic language, along with Latin and Hebrew. In the Garden of Gethsemane near the Mount of Olives, Jesus (James Caviezel) is betrayed by Judas Iscariot (Luca Lionello). Jesus is condemned to death…  See more details below


Mel Gibson's well-publicized production The Passion of the Christ concerns the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The dialogue is spoken in the ancient Aramaic language, along with Latin and Hebrew. In the Garden of Gethsemane near the Mount of Olives, Jesus (James Caviezel) is betrayed by Judas Iscariot (Luca Lionello). Jesus is condemned to death for blasphemy and brought before Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov), the Roman governor of Judea, for sentencing. The roaring crowd demand his death, so Pilate orders his crucifixion. Jesus is severely beaten and made to carry his cross up to Golgotha, the hill outside Jerusalem, where he is nailed to the cross. Romanian theatrical actress Maia Morgenstern plays Mary, Mother of God, and Italian superstar Monica Bellucci plays Mary Magdalene. Amid much controversy involving Gibson and various religious organizations, The Passion of the Christ received an international theatrical release in February of 2004. In March 2005, Gibson released an unrated version of the film, dubbed The Passion Recut, that eliminated five to six minutes of the more graphic scenes of flogging and crucifixion.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Mel Gibson’s controversial but undeniably compelling account of the last hours of Jesus Christ is nothing if not correctly titled: The word “passion” is derived from a Latin term for pain and suffering. And that’s exactly what director Gibson shows us in horrifying detail. From his apprehension by Roman soldiers to his subsequent scourging and crucifixion, the self-proclaimed Son of God suffers terribly, and we see, close up, the effects of every lash, every blow, every rock, and every nail. Adapted by Gibson and Benedict Fitzgerald from the Gospels (particularly the Gospel of John), Passion barely touches on Christ’s message of love; there are brief flashbacks to such New Testament landmarks as the Sermon on the Mount, but they merely lend context to things Jesus sees, hears, or remembers while en route to his destiny: the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. James Caviezel does a fine job as Christ, although his is not a role that calls for a great deal of emoting via dialogue. It’s left to him to convey the intense suffering that Christ underwent during those awful, final hours on Good Friday. Caviezel does this with remarkable skill, and his performance is matched only by those of Maia Morgenstern (playing the Blessed Mother with heart-tugging dignity) and Monica Bellucci (an Italian sexpot oddly cast but quite effective as the reformed prostitute Mary Magdalene). The Passion of the Christ, while produced and shot with great artistry, is not a film that will engage viewers aesthetically or intellectually; it is a uniquely visceral viewing experience, and one that is not recommended for children, no matter how devout. The violence depicted here will unnerve some people, and that’s just what Gibson intended. He wants his audience to realize just how much Christ endured on behalf of his followers, and in that respect the erstwhile actor has succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. The controversy over the director’s alleged anti-Semitism faded rapidly when the oft-predicted reprisals against Jews failed to materialize even as the film attracted tens of millions of moviegoers all over the world, and it shouldn’t be factored into any decision to buy the DVD. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see a more gripping, visceral account of Christ’s last day, and we guarantee that you’ll never forget it.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ achieved notoriety before its release when some religious figures openly worried the film might spark attacks of anti-Semitism. While anyone looking to argue that the film is anti-Semitic will find enough evidence to back that claim, those prejudices do not feel like the elements of the story in which Gibson is interested. The film opens with a Bible passage: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." What this film is about is Jesus' physical suffering. The first half of the film does a good job of showing how Jesus upset the religious, political, and legal systems of the time, leading directly to his crucifixion. There is an antecedent to this film's telling of a famous execution full of political and religious significance: Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc. Gibson strives for a level of "realism" that Dreyer achieved, but he attempts to get there in a different ways. Where Dreyer's frames are severe and unadorned, lending a gritty immediacy to the film, Gibson has instructed the remarkably gifted cinematographer Caleb Deschanel to make this movie resemble the style of Caravaggio. The second half of the film is a brutal depiction of Christ's torture and execution by crucifixion. These sequences are unflinching in their brutality, with Gibson often employing slow motion in order to force the viewer to linger on individual lashes. Deschanel succeeds in creating strikingly beautiful images, but occasionally the self-consciously "artful" framings actually detract from the visceral horror of the proceedings. The cinematography is undeniably beautiful, but one might ask if such suffering should be presented so beautifully. And physical suffering is without doubt the aspect of the film Gibson is most taken by, though the director can be faulted for focusing on the physical the expense of the spiritual. When Jesus finally has his moment of doubt on the cross, when he asks why he has been forsaken, the moment is quietly underplayed -- unlike the torture sequences. The endless brutality ultimately achieves a deadening numbness in viewers who are not given an opportunity to identify with the spiritual aspects of the story. For a believer, this film will act as a powerful reminder of the full horror of the crucifixion. However, for those going in without either an understanding of scripture or a belief in the religious veracity of the events depicted, the film may, at best, play as an interesting starting point for a conversation or, at worst, as a grueling exercise in cinematic sadism. Gibson's film may or may not be "good," but it unquestioningly succeeds in doing what it set out to do.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]

Special Features

Blue-Ray disc: Two versions of the film: The original theatrical version and a version edited for graphic depictions; Enhanced viewing mode with Biblical footnotes; Audio commentaries with Mel Gibson, filmmakers and theologians; DVD: Making of The Passion of the Christ exclusive documentary; The Legacy: A historical & cultural retrospective of the crucifixion; Historical photo gallery; Deleted scenes

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Caviezel Jesus Christ
Monica Bellucci Mary Magdalene
Claudia Gerini Claudia Procles
Maia Morgenstern Mary
Sergio Rubini Dismas
Rosalinda Celentano Satan
Hristo Jivkov John
Luca Lionello Judas
Mattia Sbragia Caiphas
Hristo Shopov Pontius Pilate
Toni Bertorelli Annas
Robert Bestazzoni Malchus
Francesco Cabras Gesmas
Giovanni Capalbo Cassius
Emilio De Marchi A Scornful Roman
Francesco De Vito Peter
Lello Giulivo A Brutish Roman
Abel Jafry Second Temple Officer
Jarreth Merz Simon
Matt Patresi Janus
Fabio Sartor Abenader
Roberto Visconti A Scornful Roman
Giancinto Ferro Joseph of Arimathea
Olek Mincer Nicodemus
Adel Ben Ayed Thomas
Chokri Ben Zagden James
Luca De Dominicis Herod
Pedro Sarubbi Barabbas
Angelo DiLoreta The 5th Elder The Accuser
Francesco Gabriele 3rd Elder
Romuald Andrzej Klos The Roman
Ivano Marescotti Pilatus
Ted Rusoff 2nd Elder

Technical Credits
Mel Gibson Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Maurizio Argentieri Sound/Sound Designer
Greg Cannom Makeup Special Effects
Bruce Davey Producer
John Debney Score Composer
Caleb Deschanel Cinematographer
Sergio Ercolessi Asst. Director
Benedict Fitzgerald Screenwriter
Francesco Frigeri Production Designer
Rachel Griffiths Asst. Director
John Wright Editor
Stephen McEveety Producer
Maurizio Millenotti Costumes/Costume Designer
Daniela Pareschi Art Director
Nazzareno Piana Art Director
Luscri Pierfranco Art Director
Shaila Rubin Casting
Enzo Sisti Executive Producer
Christien Tinsley Makeup
Keith Vanderlaan Makeup Special Effects

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Passion of the Christ - DVD Disc
1. Introduction [1:19]
1. Script Evolution [4:21]
1. Language Barriers [4:40]
1. Finding Jerusalem [3:46]
1. Artisitc Inspiration [2:14]
1. The Right Role [8:35]
1. Evil Personified [1:55]
1. Tailoring a Perfect Fit [1:53]
1. The Director [6:46]
1. Grace In Photography [4:10]
1. Make Up and Visual Effects [9:49]
1. The Earthquake [3:37]
1. The Crucifixion [5:20]
1. Jim Suffering [5:16]
1. Breaking the Tension [3:34]
1. Wrapping Production [1:18]
1. The Cutting Room [5:52]
1. The Score [6:22]
1. Designing the Sound Effects [9:45]
1. Guerilla Marketing [6:18]
1. Spiritual Journey [3:16]


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