Of Man and Men
by Alex Linder
28 February 2004
A review of Mel Gibson's "Passion"...
Summary Judgment: Decent, not great. Reasonably artistic depiction of the brutality attending crucifixion, marred by sops to Semites who hate the film anyway, and failure to evoke motive justifying the excessive torture that seems to be the real interest of the filmmakers. No nonChristian will walk away from this understanding the passion behind the whipping, scourging, mocking and crucifying of Jesus.
More fleshing, less flaying, Mr. Gibson.
Viewing Context: I saw the first showing in Kirksville, Missouri, 3:45 p.m., 2/25/04. Already at 2:20 a line of a few dozen had formed. There was a local tv news van in the parking lot outside the theater. I came back at 3:40, and there was a decent line of people buying tickets. Two college students ahead of me purchased 32 tickets. A colored woman with a camera was taping the line for KTVO. But I was in the wrong line, the advance tickets line for the two shows after the 3:45. The guy directed me to the right place and I got in to the premiere with no wait. There were about 150-200 in the audience, plenty of empty seats. When I came out, there were a good number of people lined up waiting to go in for the next showing. I suspect the later showings will have more than the afternoon. By midnight, 500-600 people in a midwestern town of 17,000 will have seen this movie.
Comments on Audience: The audience for "Passion" was families and older people and some college students. Far more elderly than you would normally see in a theater. There were many kids under ten, for whom in my opinion this picture is too brutal. The minute the credits rolled, 80% of the audience got up and filed out. No tears. Just another consumer gulp. It strikes me, but apparently not others, as disrespectful to bolt after art. It would be one thing if this were a teen comedy, but "Passion" requires at least the pretense of reflection, of letting it sink in. At least the audience was quiet.
Sops to Semites:
1) refusal to explain the reason the jews are so hot on getting rid of Jesus,
2) conspicuously compassionate hook-nosed girl gives Jesus a towel to mop his face as he's carrying cross to Calvary. Perhaps she figured she could sell the bloodstained rag on Ebay for a pretty penny, call me cynical.
3) the conscription of a jew who looks suspiciously Tan-Everymanish, with his white intelligence, flat flared nose, coffee-colored skin, and Jewish religion, to help exhausted Jesus carry the cross up the hill.
4) removal of "his blood be on us and upon our children" - a crucial syncopation. Instead, we get Pilate refusing responsibility for this man's blood. The natural next step is to flip the camera to Caiphas and the priests in the courtyard saying what jews themselves say they said: His blood be on us and upon our children. The camera does flip for the jews' reaction, which is thumbs up, but not mockingly conclusive, as in the Good Book. This evasion seals the film for the comparatively philosemitic theme: "blame Man not men."
This bears going into.
Mel's removal of the crucial words is not merely a sop to jews, it is a betrayal of Christ after Peter, whose betrayal the movie does depict. Gibson, like Peter, is afraid of getting murdered by jews if he speaks truth to jewish power! Not only is this a spiritual failure on Gibson's part, it makes you wonder how far any Christian stands with Jesus. Is this atheist cynical to observe that Jesus is the only jew Christians don't fear? Mark that line down, itz a keeper, channeled straight from Mencken.
General Observations on Treatment and Characterization
Evil in the movie comes in two forms: sinister Semites and brutal Romans. The Pharisee priests who want Jesus killed are nasty enough, but not particularly jewish. The Romans soldiers are relentlessly, almost cartoonishly brutal. Theirs is a straightforward Aryan sadism. They delight in mocking and scourging and whipping the king, but all more or less in good, dirty, innocent, sadistic fun. And Jesus Christ, do these Romans put the mess in Messiah. By the time they've wiped the floor with Jesus, believe me, that floor needs wiping. And wiped it gets, literally, by Jesus's mom and girlfriend. With fresh towels supplied by Pontius Pilate's wife, Claudia. Hmm, don't remember that from the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John...and Hilton? Really, Claudia and Pilate are the only ones who come off half-way decent in the picture. Pilate is, mutatis mutandis, Roman middle-management -- squeezed between Caesar and Pharisee. He goes to bat for Christ to an extent, but when it's clear the Semitic rabble wants blood, he relents. And hell, it's not like Jesus really sticks up for himself. He's on a mission from God, after all. He takes it like a woman and a Messiah. And boy does he take a licking. They chain him to a block and beat the bejesus out of him. It looked like the utility room floor after I'm done cleaning bass.
Nasty instruments effectively applied. But that's just the start. Pilate puts it up to the Semites again, after the scourging -- is that enough? can they can call off the dogs? Nope. Not good enough. Like the jews they are, too much is not enough. "Crucify him!" they insist. Pilate, left to his own devices, wouldn't have done it. That much is clear. But no matter which way he goes, some angry bunch is going to riot, and so he throws the rabbid rabble its meat.
Cavaziel makes a good, conventional Jesus. He's got that androgenous thing going, like Elvis and many successful male artists. He's got the command of a male, yet the sexy form of a female. He's straight-nosed as they come. It is impossible to conceive a Semitic-nosed Jesus, isn't it? And yet, given his race and religion and region, Jesus was surely a six-nosed Semite. But our mind simply refuses to conceive a perfect man with a Semitic nose! The Semitic is the sinuous is the sinister; the sly and the serpentine. One instinctively knows that the jew is the master of the lie, and so Jesus is never portrayed as a jew.
Pilate is effective enough, a politician beset by competing pressures. The Pharisees, however, are not jewy enough. Not hateful and dishonest and shifty-eyed enough, just ordinary corrupt dark-eyed powermongers. I want a dozen shifty-eyed obese camel-nosed foxy weaselwitzim for my Pharisees.
Women in the movie are sympathetic characters, apart from a few in the mob, never individuated. Every individuated woman was shown to be noble or at least not vicious. A dark pharisee seemed to be having second thoughts about the persecution - the standard-issue noble negro we see in every film. And I've mentioned the darkish "jew" forced to carry the cross when Jesus can't make it alone. In other words, as far as he can, given the racially specific nature of the story, Mel makes a Semitically Correct movie. It is reasonably realistic in its gory parts, but ethnically cleaned up if not cleansed in the rest. At the risk of judging Gibson for not making the movie I feel he should have made rather than the movie he was trying to make, the real story here is why the jews wanted Jesus killed. The murder of Jesus as an ethnic study is most interesting. Far more than his being sent to die by God and resurrected, which claim may be discarded as "savior" spin.
The best screens are:
1) flashback to whore Mary Magdalene prostrate, stretching a trembling hand toward Jesus' foot, seeking redemption. Life hurts, goddam it hurts bad. I could feel her suffering far more than Jesus'. Jesus represents a way out for those desperate and suffering. Is He an effective way? Yes, for some. Is he the Only way, as He asserted? No. He's the way for botches of a bent, but not for everybody. Men are men, not Man. Man must make and save himself. He can't do it? Well, neither could Jesus. Perhaps man must accept his nature, and rather than seek to transcend it, seek to build societies that force it into aesthetic molds. Or just go around killing people, like Chuck Manson. Hard to say, itz. Contrary to Jesus and his followers, I believe there is no right answer, there are just people and preferences. Certainly the story of Jesus holds the mirror to Man, with its real betrayal and desperate false hope of Salvation. Yeah verily, I say unto you, no one gets out of death alive. Be a little nicer to...someone who deserves it. Thatz the best you can do or will receive. Sorry. VNN is a water bar.
2) Mary holding her son's corpse in her lap after his removal from the Cross, looking up into the camera, implicating the viewer in the murder of her son. This works. And this was the natural ending to the movie, but, after seveal dark moments, Gibson made the mistake of tacking on a brief scene of restored-and-Risen. He appended no jewprop as Suckpoop Joe's liar suggested.
3) The embodiment of the Devil in the form similar to Annie Lennox in "Here Comes the Rain" video. Like Jesus, the Devil is both male and female - masterful, yet sinuous. This Devil is inserted in several scenes, and effective in reifying an aspect of human personality which undeniably exists, whether we name it Good, Bad or Fact.
1) Too much brutality. Gibson lingers far too long on the point that man enjoys torturing man. Too many slow-motion whippings and scourgings by the Roman soldiers. We get the point. The flesh-rending realism is necessary, but overdone. More interesting and to the point would be evocations of exactly what so irritates fellow jews in the teachings of this christ. That's the interesting part. I can see how someone preaching love your enemies could be obnoxious in a wussy gadfly way, but to cut him up with whips and tack him to wood? That seems excessive.
2) As said, not enough backstory. Why do THE JEWS want this guy dead so bad? Gibson puts in some flashbacks, and in many ways these are the best parts of the movie, but he doesn't define Jesus the preacher against his kiken context nearly strongly enough.
Jesus, the jewish radical...
Jesus is yet another Jewish revolutionary. His radical doctrine is repay hatred with love, evil with kindness. Is moral advance possible? If so, is Jesus' doctrine moral progress? I don't believe so. I side with the "take arms and in opposing end them," whereas Jesus is with the "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." I side with the Greek view that you should help your friends and hurt your enemies. Take your own side in an argument. Jesus is not someone I'd want to be in a foxhole with. Treat others not with love, but treat them the way their behavior towards you shows you'd be wise to treat them. That is a solider doctrine than love only. Love only is a distortion, and a dangerous one that accounts for more misery on earth than sadism, I'd be willing to wager. We all feel that things are bad and good, but those feelings aren't ultimate reality, they're relative to our position and condition. People don't act the way some people claim Jesus did because it is contrary to the nature Jesus' father bestowed on us. There is no escaping the logical conclusion that God is responsible for "evil" in this world. Don't look at me, Mary, look up. After all, we needn't take Jesus' own view of the meaning of his crucifiction. It is, or is represented to be, an objective fact that he existed and was crucified at the behest of the jews by the Romans. He believed and taught that this was necessary, commanded by his father in heaven. No one knows the truth; hell, one knows for a fact very little about what actually happened back then. It's all a mystery, a blank page we can write our own opinions on. I base my opinions about Jesus and his meaning on my factual knowledge of jews and their tendencies.
Brief thoughts on the irony of Christianity: Stupid and desperate people, all of us, require answers. They will not be denied Ultimate Meaning, which takes the form of God and such emissaries as he requires to make his message manifest. The Christian ultimate answer, which is claimed universal, is that Love is the great commandment. The Christian believes there is Heaven and Hell, and that there will be a Judgment Day on which verdict on our individual souls is rendered. There is no evidence for the Christians' position save a book put together by the most particular, most hateful, most racist race on earth. Cue Simpsons' "I'm sold"...
On the making and media reception of "Passion"...
We've treated the treatment in many spintros, but let's review, just to catch the scope of the hate that surpasseth all understanding. Jews:
- tried to prevent this movie from being made - denied it funding
- denied it distribution
- poisoned the press well a year before release.
When it became apparent it was going to appear, they
- stole script copies to help their attacks
- pretended to be priests at screenings
- used bought Christians to false-face the source of opposition
- put together a 47-page manual denouncing it and issued hypocritical accusal after hypocritical accusal that it was
- too violent
- boring with dead languages and subtitles
- historically inaccurate
Let history record the jews did everything they could do to prevent this film from being made, and, once that became impossible, to smear the maker, to misrepresent the message, and in general to do everything inhumanly possible to live up to their historical reputation as hypocritical liars of the first water. I don't know if Jesus really existed, let alone that he was the Savior of humanity and Son of God. What I find completely plausible to the point of 100% guaranteed is that, if he was, the jews murdered Him.
Go see "Passion" and get Mel a good return on his money. His heart's in the right place, if his guts need work.