?

Log in

No account? Create an account
The Passion - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

The Passion [Feb. 28th, 2004|09:59 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |uncomfortableuncomfortable]

I'm still trying to come to grips with what I saw. I went into the movie with an open mind and a genuine will to like it.

I came out feeling sullied rather than uplifted.

It took me several hours to decide whether to write about this movie, and what to say. I've spoken to several people who thought it was powerful and moving, and I had to measure whether my reaction originates simply in my pagan-ness. But I am still moved by Holy Thursday and Good Friday masses, when I attend them. I still get teary listening to the 39 lashes in Jesus Christ, Superstar. So it is not that I am turned off by the message itself.

I think it is the fetishist turn of the movie that is putting me off. The scourging that is so far over the top, accompanied by throbbing music, squicked me. Someone described the violence as "pornographic," and that's nt far off the mark. The dollops of completely gratuitous "special bonus feature" violence left me cold. And the iconographic set pieces drained away bits that could have been really good. the first brief glimpse at the Shroud of Turin should have been left at that, but instead Gibson had to return and linger ("ya get it? ya see it?"). Likewise the Virgin Mother's grief as Jesus was handed down into her arms became distanced by a lengthy Pieta pose as the camera pulled away.

I was also put off by the portrayal of Satan as a sort of malevolent transvestite. Maybe Gibson didn't intend it as a dig at the alternatively sexually oriented, but it came off that way. On the other hand, I think the uproar about anti-Semiticism is a tempest in a teacup. The Romans don't come off any better, and there really aren't any other peoples around.

I think, though, that my biggest issue is that the violence made me feel disconnected from Jesus. It was so far beyond the realm of human tolerance that the sense of humanity he was developing in the Garden of Gesthemane evaporated almost immediately. He was Superman, taking one hell of a beating, but he wasn't an empathetic character. What empathy I felt was for the people around him. By the fourth or fifth slow motion fall as he bore the cross, I was simply getting antsy. I could not suspend my belief to accept that a man that badly beaten could even walk up the hill, so watching him struggle at it seemed, again, gratuitous.

Parts were effective - the Roman soldiers putting the crown of thorns on his head and striking him. But they were all but lost in the unrelenting litany of abuse.

I have no doubts regarding Mel Gibson's sincerity in his making of The Passion of the Christ, and I'm perfectly happy with him making oodles of money on it. But if he has hopes that it will convert the unconverted, then I think he has missed the boat. Before writing this I looked up the Stations of the Cross to doublecheck my memory of how many times Jesus is memorialized as having fallen. Reading those simple statements had more emotional impact on me than the gore-fest I attended this afternoon. Sometimes less is more.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: lordindra
2004-02-29 03:52 am (UTC)
Gibson's reason for the violence was to emphasize the glory of Jesus remaining commited to His mission of love no matter what happened to Him.

I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know if I would feel he got the level of violence right, but he did have a specific theological and cinematic reason to do it that way.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 01:49 pm (UTC)
I know that, and I have spoken to some people who saw it that way and were deeply moved, and others who were appalled, as I was. I think he walked an extremely fine line, and it's possible to go either way. For me, and despite being at several points in my life both very Christian and very Catholic, it didn't work at all. For my brother and my mother-in-law, it was effective.

In other words, Your Mileage May Vary.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: gothiksukkubus
2004-02-29 03:59 am (UTC)
I just don't want to see it. I never did and I certainly do NOT want to see it now. If I want gore, I'll go watch Ghost Ship again.

Sorry it was such a disappointment, hon. Too bad they don't give refunds!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 01:53 pm (UTC)
I'm not disappointed that I saw it, if for no other reason than that I can participate in the debate. The violence was grotesque, but so far beyond the realm of believability that it was "eww" rather than "Oh god, no!" for me. Like I said elsewhere, it's a fine line and others end up on the opposite side of it from me.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: shezan
2004-02-29 03:59 am (UTC)
Had you read this essay on Gibson's movie being knowingly a BDSM/snuff flick?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: lyssabard
2004-02-29 05:55 am (UTC)

Hmm

You know...I had wondered if anyone would read that into it--and I am not surprised. Now I am curious.

VERY curious.


Lys - English MA. Kinkster. Wierd like dat.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 02:07 pm (UTC)
No, I had not read it, but it is fascinating, as are the followup comments from the rather outraged BDSM community - just as divided as Passion audiences. Thanks for the link.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: shezan
2004-02-29 04:03 am (UTC)
Oh, and Gibson would fully have intended any homophobia, as documented here.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 02:21 pm (UTC)
And yet like so many homophobes, he makes a movie with homoerotic overtones....

Mel may be compensating [g]
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: shezan
2004-02-29 04:07 am (UTC)
A conservative view disliking the movie, here.
(Reply) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 02:29 pm (UTC)
A little generalized, but I can see where you're coming from. Signs was actually quite good.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: megthelegend
2004-02-29 07:20 am (UTC)

You make good points

As always.

I'm not going to see it; not so much because I have issues with the religious stuff (though I do have issues, and I'm conflicted about that side of it).

I'm not going to see it because of the violence. Even if it is realistic for a man to take that much punishment and keep moving; even if it would give me insight into what happened -- I don't want to see it.

I felt the same way about Saving Private Ryan, which I saw reluctantly with my husband. It gave me a much better idea of what it would've been like to be in a war. But I already knew it would be horrible. I was already anti-war. I didn't need the extra little details, like what a man actually looks like when he's shot, how people face the death of a friend, and so forth.

If Jesus was a real person and was really crucified in this way, well, I already know it must've been horrible. What I can imagine in my mind is scary enough without seeing the nails pierce his flesh, without seeing the faces of those who do the hurting.

Thank you for writing about this. I'm very interested in people's reactions to it.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 02:35 pm (UTC)

Re: You make good points

I understand the conflicted part. I actually went in there wondering whether it would inspire me to reconsider my paganism.

Not a chance. It is not persuasive, because there is no message of redemption, only a twisted fascination with the suffering. I'm still creeped out.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: megthelegend
2004-03-03 06:14 am (UTC)

Re: You make good points

Man, I would be creeped out, too. I am fascinated by the *emotions* involved, because it is such a powerful, powerful story. Betrayal, suffering, redemption.

I don't wanna see the violence.

I'm not sure what I am, really. I fit most closely into the 'Christian' box but with some differences. I definitely believe in a higher power but I occasionally feel other presences, too. And I'm not sure about quantifying God or how much of the Bible I really believe.

My Dad's gonna be the next president of the Uniting Church in Australia. Heh. I'm so darn proud. I feel welcome in Uniting Church stuff but I don't really go to church. Haven't been for a long time.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-03 11:27 am (UTC)

Re: You make good points

People are flocking to see it. More appallingly, some are taking their children - not a responsible act of parenthood, IMHO.

I've never heard of the Uniting Church. Is it exclusive to Australia?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: megthelegend
2004-03-04 02:01 am (UTC)

Re: You make good points

More appallingly, some are taking their children

::winces:: Wow. That is indeed appalling, and not a good parenting act imo either.

::beams:: Yes, it is. Started in 1977 -- a union of the Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches in Australia.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-04 02:59 am (UTC)

Re: You make good points

Sounds very cool, that church. I applaud them!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: shezan
2004-02-29 05:41 pm (UTC)

Counter-Reform

Riveting Washington Post article on why Gibson's movie belongs to an old Catholic anti-Protestant genre, here.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 08:09 pm (UTC)

Re: Counter-Reform

I actually thought about that while watching the movie - my brother being converted to Protestant and having no use for church art was extolling the movie, and I thought it was kinda strange.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: genericrick
2004-02-29 09:14 pm (UTC)
I agree in that the copious violence didn't have to be completely exhibited in order to make an impact. The seemingly-relentless beatings definitely didn't "scare me" into empathizing as I'm sure Gibson was probably trying to do. That having been said, I thought the movie was quite good in a holistic sense.

As far as Satan was concerned, I think they could have been trying to accomplish one of two things:

1.) Portrey Satan as androgenous to prevent any possible controversy concerning Satan's gender.

2.) Portrey Satan as an male with feminine features, as Satan was once an angel. The choice of casting a woman could have just been to emphasize the sort of "vestigial angelic features."

*Shrug*
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-02-29 09:31 pm (UTC)
Point taken about the Satan portrayal. It was just so...David Bowie. [g]
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: koibito007
2004-03-03 06:06 pm (UTC)
On the contrary to some other people's posts, I am actually more curious to see it now. I'm off tommorrow, and I think I will go see it alone then. It seems to have sparked so much debate, and while I already have some of my own ideas- I must go see it on order to give an informed opinion.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-03-03 06:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, believe me, as controversial as it is I wouldn't miss it - I want to be able to have an educated point of view in any debate.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)