The Passion of the Christ

 
(i)

 

Extremely violent, and powerful; for mature teens.
  • Review Date: August 30, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive role models

An individual's religious background will influence the interpretation of the role models within this film.

Violence

Extremely graphic and intense violence, including whipping and crucifixion. Could cause nightmares in younger childrenVery disturbing and violent images involving Jesus , Satan, Judas and others.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is violent in an intense, graphic, personal, even intimate manner -- much more powerful than other R-rated movies with cartoon-style explosions and shoot-outs. We see Jesus brutally beaten for much of the movie. We hear his flesh tear as he is whipped. We see his blood splatter and drip. The nails are driven through his hands and feet. His side is pierced with a spear. Two other men are crucified and one's eyes are pecked out. There are other disturbing images, including the character of Satan and some grotesque children who taunt Judas. We also see Judas commit suicide by hanging. Gibson has said that the agonizing, unbearable torture is a key part of the story, and parents who are considering whether this movie is appropriate for their children should see it themselves to judge how their children might respond to it.

What's the story?

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is writer/director Mel Gibson's interpretation of the last hours of the life of Jesus. It's neither fully history nor drama, though it has elements of both; rather, it's Gibson's personal, spiritual statement about the view that the suffering Jesus endured at the end of his life demonstrated his divinity and his sacrifice. The movie takes place almost entirely during the last 12 hours of Jesus' life. The characters speak in the languages of the time: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin (with English subtitles). Little effort is made to explain what happened before Jesus was captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, why his followers were so loyal, why his accusers were so threatened, or who all of the characters are and how they relate to each other. For that reason, the movie will be most appreciated by those who are already familiar with the Gospels or as a starting point for those who want to learn more.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The Passion of the Christ is the prayer of a gifted filmmaker, but it's also a narrow and harrowing perspective on a story that, no matter what your faith, is bigger than any attempt to portray on film. As a movie, it's a respectful and reverent treatment of a story that has probably been more influential than any other in the history of the world. It has moments of great power, extraordinary cinematography, and some stunning images. But it doesn't give those unfamiliar with the details or significance of the story enough of an understanding of Jesus and the other characters to convey all that it hopes to. Some of the scenes are particularly awkward, while others seem overwrought without the missing context. The violence is intended to be upsetting, and it is -- it's extensive, detailed, and literally painful to watch.

The movie is also controversial to some in its portrayal of the Jewish elders who ordered the capture of Jesus and urged Pontius Pilate to sentence him to death. But while some viewers may choose to interpret the movie to support their views, there's nothing here to suggest that it's in any way intended to explicitly or implicitly connect the Jewish people as a whole to the death of Christ. The Jewish elders are a small group of powerful people who feel threatened by someone who doesn't support them; other Jews in the story are very positively portrayed, including Jesus, his followers, and the people who help him on the way to the crucifixion, especially Simon. The characters who come off the worst are the Roman soldiers, who laugh and taunt Jesus as they beat him and gamble for his robe while they wait for him to die. Ultimately, each member of the audience will have to evaluate the movie as a whole as an affirmation of faith or as an invitation to those who are still searching.

 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this story fits into their own faith tradition.

  • They could take this opportunity to explore the ways that groups of all kinds have responded to the story of Jesus and to consider the controversy this film has raised about its portrayal of the Jewish elders.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 25, 2004
DVD release date:August 31, 2004
Cast:Christo Jivkov, James Caviezel, Monica Bellucci
Director:Mel Gibson
Studio:Newmarket Film Group
Genre:Drama
Run time:135 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sequences of graphic violence

This review of The Passion of the Christ was written by

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Quality

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byperfectionist December 18, 2009
 

Extremely violent, scary, and bloody. not for kids under twelve

The best movie about Jesus Christ. It makes you break into tears to see how much Jesus loves us and what he did to save us.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old January 4, 2012
 

Pure Antisemitism

Don't watch this film. It's a rarity for me to give 1 star, but this movie is just insensitive, and just wrong. I'm an atheist, however the way this movie portrays Judaism is awful. The viewers who watch this movie for fun make me sick.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byilovecookiez April 20, 2011
 

Very educational, but scary.

This teaches about the past of Jesus Christ. I didn't realize how horrible and painful Jesus's death was until I saw this. This movie will make yew feel proud to be a Christian and so you should:) And roles models.... Jesus is a perfect role model! He teaches to love one another.... even your enemies. This movie looks so real! Like they just went back in time and recorded the whole story!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models

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