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April 7th, 2016

The Passion of the Christ

Powerful account of events leading to the crucifixion

Mel Gibson, 2004, USA, 126 mins.

  Contains scenes of brutality and violence

In a change of programme we are not showing "Boyhood" this month, due to concerns about the sound quality of the DVD, but instead one of the highest-grossing films of all time, Mel Gibson's powerful account of the last few hours in the life of Jesus.

This is one of the highest-rated films on Amazon, where 363 user-reviews give it an average of 4.3 stars out of 5.

You should be aware that the film shows Jesus being brutally flogged and nailed to the cross. These scenes are upsetting and are supposed to be. The film tries to help us imagine the suffering of Christ, suffering being the meaning of the term "passion" in this context.

No English is spoken in the film, only Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew, a measure of Gibson's determination to transport us to that place and time. The subtitles are very legible.

The film was criticised as anti-semitic but the balance of opinion disagrees. Respected film critic Roger Ebert wrote when it first came out: "My own feeling is that Gibson’s film is not anti-Semitic but reflects a range of behavior on the part of its Jewish characters, on balance favorably." See Ebert's full review.

A reviewer on Amazon says, "Fortunately the accusations of anti-Semitism are unfounded, and really constitute a poor attack from those who were determined not to like the film. While clearly the Jewish leaders are portrayed as the ones who condemned Jesus, this is a film with a cast composed almost entirely of villains. The wickedly laughing Roman soldiers are shown every bit as harshly while they torture Christ. And the good Jews are all clearly evident too ..." Read more of this review and others