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Horror of the Christ?

Passion of the ChristHow would you define the film “the Passion of the Christ”? What genre would you place it in? Horror? Psychological Thriller? Documentary? This piece was written in 2004 when the film came out and the topic came up recently in a conversation I had with a film studies grad student. Thought I would share it here:

“Horror! That ain’t no Horror movie! Thats Jesus Christ!!” Yes I know I blaspheme (not the first time either) but bear with me. Religious types usually have a problem with me when I make this comment, and I guess the conversation hinges on what “horror movie” means in the minds of most people. No other genre is as closely related to “the devil” as Horror, so for me to label the pre-eminent (and most successful) film about Jesus as a “Horror” film is just too much.

I saw it twice, and i stand by my pronouncement that it is a Horror film. No other genre of movie has such a particular effect on you. I guess when I say horror, most people assume I mean “freddy kreuger”. Not so. This is as intelligent as any film you will ever find, yet its main purpose is to shock and jar you into a state of “damn.”

This is one film reviewer’s take:

I have to offer a concession to those critics who have been so offended by the graphic portrayals of violence and torture in this film. It is, in fact, incredibly offensive. I cannot deny this fact.

I agree. See, Mel Gibson (the director) didn’t have to show all that he showed. Come now, do we really need to see the nail being pounded into the hand? No. But you show everything in a horror film, and Gibson gives it to you, with squirting blood no less. The whipping scene for me is the most difficult to watch. Once again Gibson spares no detail. Having seen it the second time, (Believe me when I say I didn’t want to go through it a second time.) I find myself questioning some of the directorial decisions. Does it really have to be THAT graphic? The answer is no if it were any other genre.

Think of Schindlers List for a comparison. That could have easily become a horror film, yet it remained a heart-wrenching drama. (The black and white toned down the gore, and Spielberg just didn’t show you everything like Gibson did. Remember the only color in the film, the girl in the red jacket?) Even a descent into hell film like “the Pianist” was less painful than this was. But this was what Gibson wanted. He wants you to feel sick when you’re finished. These are classic Horror genre motivations.

So I say again. Horror. Very well done. Well filmed. Well acted. Well directed. Beautiful cinematography. Great Set and Costume design. But a horror. And this doesn’t cheapen the film in my estimation. Just helps to classify it.


#1 MENTAL SLAVE on 11.22.07 at 11:14 pm

stop trying to brainwash little kids with a phony mythological character that doesn’t look like them. the spanish french and english did enough of that

#2 main slave on 11.30.07 at 4:09 pm

Are you talking about Freddy Kreuger? 😉 I’m not recommending Christianity to anyone, only commenting on how in this case, subject matter can influence a work’s categorization.

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