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The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson

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"The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson, recounts the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, portraying his arrest, trial, crucifixion and death. One of the most anticipated and popular religious movies in modern society, it therefore becomes susceptible to criticism. Although the film is based upon the stories within the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, there are many exaggerations and non-biblical elements present in the movie. This is not unexpected, since it is a movie, but the vivid detail of the brutality in the movie as well as the Anti-Semitic theme are the most publicly criticized themes and concepts present in the movie. The Passion emphasizes the brutality Jesus endured to give himself for his people, but at the same time in the movie the Jews are the ones that cry for his death. During several scenes of The Passion of the Christ, there are elements such as characters, themes, and motifs that are not found within the gospels, but are in the movie to add more emotion and drama.

One of the most common arguments about The Passion is that it is focused on the intentional blaming of the Jews for the death of Jesus Christ. Throughout the movie, and in particular the scenes where he is held before Pontius Pilate and Caiaphus, Jesus is berated and blamed for blasphemy by his own people, a notion that is not explicitly talked about within the Bible. It is obvious in the movie and the Bible though, that Jesus has no bad intentions or threats to anybody, yet he becomes the enemy. The implied reason for this is that the Jews rejected Jesus and God. But why are the ideas of love and freedom that Jesus is promoting, in the movie and the Bible, so evil and unacceptable according to the people and high priests? At most of the important conversations of the movie in which Jesus is being interrogated (by Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod) about his actions and the allegations he faces, he remains silent about his opinions, and is reluctant to answer any questions. After re-reading some of the gospels, it doesn't explain or declare that he was shy about his beliefs. In the scenes of the movie, he is preaching his peace and ideas of independence, but the high priests and the Jewish people do not show him any mercy or respect. Even at the voice of the governor Pontius Pilate, who several times mentions that he doesn't find any guilt or reason to persecute Jesus, the people still wish for his crucifixion. The movie did not really make sense of the motivation of the Jewish high priests or the Jewish people, and it was not explained in the gospels either. However, in Mark 15; 10-11, it suggests that Pontius Pilate "realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over. The chief priests, however, had incited the crowd to demand that he should release Barabbas for them instead". Therefore, according to the Bible, the chief priests were envious of Jesus, and that is why they condemned him to be crucified. It was an act of panic more than anything else. The people, fearing to be considered outcasts, therefore agreed with whatever the high priests would say. This still does not explain why the Jewish people were so quick to have their savior and messiah killed. The movie suggests that they all felt passionately about this themselves, because all the people in the scenes are adamantly screaming for his death, but the gospels do not explain it.

The appearance of Satan within several important scenes of the movie is also something that is not found within the Bible. Satan appears in the movie in the form of a human with a veil around his shoulders and a black hood covering his head. His first appearance in the film comes when Jesus is in the forest praying to God before the soldiers capture him. He emerges from the woods and says to Jesus, "Do you really believe that one man can bear the full burden of sin...no one man can carry this burden, I tell you. It is far too heavy...saving their souls is too costly." Jesus ignores him though, and continues his prayers. Then, as Jesus lies on the ground, a snake emerges from Satan and crawls towards Jesus. As he stares at Satan, he stands up with a look of resilience and crushes the snake with his foot. Gibson makes the appearance of Satan for an important reason. Satan is testing him and trying to break down his will. Even when facing questions and being told that he cannot succeed, Jesus does not submit, and he shows his determination by crushing the snake. Jesus knows of the task ahead and what is going to happen, and this is a foreshadowing of the strength of his character to know the sacrifice he faces and not back down.

As the plot progresses in the movie, the appearance of Satan and the hallucinations of devils become more expressive. Though not in the text of the gospels, the appearance of the devils and Satan increases the drama and tension within the movie. They also help show the line between good

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