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The Passion of the Christ

Nothing says Catholic more than Good Friday. And nothing says Good Friday more than The Passion.

We all have Mel Gibson to thank for that, for if it wasn't for his obsession for dead languages, we might never have had this work of art. Mel Gibson has created this cinematic technique, which I have dubbed "effective realism", which utilizes the original language of the dialogue in a historical narrative. So when you make a film about Hitler, it has to be in German; if it's about cavemen, it has to be in grunts; and if it's about Jesus, it has to be in Aramaic. Good luck.

The only drawback with using a dead language is that none of the actors can really speak it. This goes for Monica Bellucci (who plays the stereotypical slut Magdalene), Maia Morgenstern as Mary, and Hristo Jivkov as John, and heck, even for the rest of the Apostles. Even Jim Caviezel as Ieshua does not sound convincing. Their Aramaic sounds forced, unnatural, and their vocal stops indicate that they know the phonetic delivery, but they have no idea what it means. Hence, they cannot improvise. But anyway, who wants to improvise in Aramaic?

But the Romans, that's a different story. Hristo Shopov is effective as Pontius Pilate, and his Latin does sound convincingly authentic. But again, using dead languages may have more downs than ups, so unless you've got very talented speakers, this movie must fail in this category.

But suspend your disbelief and you should be fine, for this is one of the best Jesus Christ movies I have seen in my life. The cinematography is haunting, the make-up is excellent (how bloody did Jesus get?) and the special effects are first rate. I mean, how do you exactly scourge the Son of Man to within an inch of his life without really hurting him?

The only thing I found distracting was the use of Satan as a poetic device. Mel Gibson might have been a little too literal, assuming that his audience might need a nudge in the right direction. But actually, Mr. Gibson, the audience is smarter than you may think, and we don't need a Satan to show the good-evil dichotomy. But his efforts are laudable, and for this movie alone, he gets a pass from Saint Peter to enter heaven when he dies.

Rating: Four stars.


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