Sunday, August 17, 2008


The media influences the way we think about the world and the way we perceive certain issues in society. These ways may vary from how we view our body shapes to how we interpret international political events and form our own religious views. For example, Christ’s death has been depicted in paintings, films, pictures and articles from various viewpoints. The film “The Passion of the Christ” produced by Mel Gibson has been ambushed by some film critics claiming that it is far too graphic and violent and that it is a biased interpretation of the scripture as are many paintings and pictures that vary from the biblical representation of Christ.

Paintings in galleries portray Jesus Christs death as something glorifying the hope that his death brings to mankind and is full of decorative beauty shown by the lighting around Christ and his mother Mary as seen in the painting below. These paintings don’t do justice to the passion, pain and trial that Jesus, who is the Son of God, experiences as depicted in the Christian Bible. The pictures and past movies tend to be passive in that they show no emotion or sign of pain, no anguish from the crown of thorns digging into His flesh and no signs of the brutal beatings he went through. An example of these pictures can be seen below:

The picture does not reflect the horror of the crucifixion story in the Christian Bible. For example, in John’s gospel chapter 19 verses one to three says

1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face. (New International version, John: 19 1-3)

In the picture above the crowd around the cross is looking at him with devotion and without the look of grief. The Jesus figure is a European depiction and the artist’s interpretation shows a dead Jesus without the look of suffering.

The painting does not portray the beatings that Pontius Pilate, the Roman leader, had ordered earlier in the day. Jesus was to be flogged with a lead-tipped whip and sent away to be crucified. The scriptures mention Jesus’ disfigurement

“14 just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness “(Isa. 52:14).

Gibson’s version of Christ’s death titled ‘The Passion of the Christ’ has been mocked for its violence and for creating a gruesome biblical spectacle. Critics claim that the script does not follow closely with scripture and promotes a ‘Hollywood Jesus’.

‘The Passion of the Christ’ is a motion picture that depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It shows the suffering and pain of Christ in his final hours and attempts to recount the four gospels’ portrayal of the crucifixion. Gibson utilises the use of blood and brutal beatings to create a more realistic depiction of what happened. Mel Gibson stated:

“I want to show the humanity of Christ as well as the divine aspect. It's a rendering that for me is very realistic and as close as possible to what I perceive the truth to be."

Members of some audiences may find the violence unpalatable but Mel Gibson is determined to show the suffering that Jesus went through so the mankind can be saved from consequences of sin. This contrasts with the calm Jesus that some people would prefer that is depicted in the painting at right above.

Although the paintings of Jesus are mainly symbolic, it portrays a different view of the Jesus that is shown in a screen shot from ‘The Passion of the Christ’. The screen shot shows Christ carrying a cross, beaten with a crown of thorns pressed into his head. Some viewers deny how terrible torture was or may not want to see Christ depicted in this way, as violence and his death is gruesome and shocking. Other critics such as Penner view Gibson of an ideological portrayal in that….

“Gibson needs and uses inhuman, unreal fountains of blood—flowing deep and wide—to write intelligibly over reality and bodies. What this produces is not reality or realism but the unmistakable signs of an intelligible that is, ideologically coated, spectacle.”(Sitchel, Penner, p19)

Possibly Mel Gibson wants to shock us, to show the suffering and pain so that the passion is much greater than we have previously imagined.

What must be realised, if you see this film, is that does portray a closer version to the scriptures that depicts a suffering Christ who has to have someone help him carry the cross up the hill and is nailed to the cross as a criminal to pay for the sins of the world.

How can ‘The Passion of the Christ’ be too violent when the European paintings of the crucifixion do not display any pain and suffering that the Gospels talk about? In ‘The Passion of The Christ’, Mel Gibson’s classic restores the lost dimension of pain and suffering and most of all passion (Bruce)

Works Cited

Bruce, David. "The Passion of The Christ (2003) - A Hollywood Jesus Movie Review." HollywoodJesus: Pop Culture from a Spiritual Point of View รข€“ Reviews - Movies, DVD, TV, Comics, Books, and Music. 17 Aug. 2008 .

"Company Home Page." Company Home Page. 17 Aug. 2008 .

"DIN: Cultural Events." DIN: Welcome to The Disability Information Network! Homepage. 17 Aug. 2008 .

Penner, Todd, and Caroline Stichele. "Passion for (the) Real? The Passion of the Christ and Its Critics." Biblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Approaches 14.1-2 (2006): 18-36.

Pizzato, Mark. "A Post-9/11 Passion: Review of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ." Pastoral Psychology 53.4 (2005): 371-376.

Society, International Bible. Holy Bible NIV, New International Version. Colorado Springs: International Bible Society, 1990.

The Passion of the Christ (Widescreen Edition). Dir. Mel Gibson. Perf. Jesus Christ. DVD. 20th Century Fox, 2003.

*Paintings were untitled with no date or Author (but can be located at the following sites)

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