The Passion of the Christ Movie Poster Image

The Passion of the Christ

(i)

 

Controversial film is extremely violent and powerful.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: August 30, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

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 The Passion of the Christ 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.

  • What other biblical stories have you seen? How does this one compare? Is the violence here necessary? Why or why not?

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

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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
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 May 9, 2015

One of the most violent films I've ever seen...still it'd be OK for teens

As CSM points out, it all depends on your faith. If your child is very religious (especially Catholic) and is interested in seeing one of the most told stories performed in a very stylized, graphic manner, then I'd say to wait til they were in their later teens before presenting them this film. If you are non-religious like myself, and just wish to see the movie as a movie, and not as an affirmation of faith, maybe wait until you've seen more mature content so you can handle this. It is relentless in its portrayal of Jesus' torture; you will become very familiar with the sound of Jim Caviezel moaning. His performance has been praised, and he does do a fine job in the beginning, expressing the agony of Judas' betrayal. But all he does is wince, moan and scream for the entire film, get spit on, scourged and beaten. Gibson shows us these scenes with slow motion, and especially focuses in on Jesus...falling. We understand the significance: this is a holy man that several groups despised and hated, and crucified because they thought his claims were blasphemous. Don't hammer us over the head with it. The movie does have a lot of interesting symbolism, especially in the specific choice of how Satan looks, and how Judas reacts with life after he turns Jesus over. But a lot of that is taken away with the excessive nature of the violence, like "Unbroken" with Tarantino blood splatter.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written bykpianist7 September 20, 2014

Amazing but brutal movie.

My parents, because of our religious background, showed this movie to me at twelve, and it admittedly stole some of my innocence. The violence was like nothing I had ever seen. The movie is in my top 10 even today, and I watch it every Easter for somber appreciation of Jesus' sacrifice. But it is NOT for kids. Not only does it have incredibly long sequences of brutal, agonizing violence, it has very somber themes of suicide, betrayal, and frightening demonic portrayals. Every time I watch this, to this day, I leave feeling absolutely drained and weak having to watch the torture of Christ. Only in special religious circumstances-- and with a very mature teen-- would I ever recommend someone under the age of 17 seeing this.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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