don't mean to be contrary to anyone here but...
I thought the movie did a great job of presenting (just about) everything accurately. The movie covers the last few days of Jesus from the garden of Gethsemane to His resurrection three days after His death. The sets and costumes of this piece are very accurate. Some interpretation is done in showing Satan throughout the movie, but this is done very tastefully and does not distract from the focus of the film. The only thing I didn't understand in this film was one appearance of Satan during the scourging (yes, they used thin lithe sticks and the cat of nine tails). During this scene Satan is shown holding what appears to be a slightly deformed child. I'm not sure at all what this is supposed to represent.
In all fairness I don't think anyone younger than about 14-16 should see this film. It is very graphic. It does depict the violence against Jesus very accurately.
The statement in Matthew about the Jews bringing blood down upon themselves is not even subtitled. I doubt many skin heads or others that would use
this information to further their own anti-Semitic agenda even know the language this phrase was spoken in. Also, it's in every copy of the Bible
available, so it's not like it's anything new.
The important thing here in respect to anti-Semitism is that people will read into a movie whatever they see. This is related to the Haitian objection to Grand Theft Auto and school violence is caused by video game violence. While I agree that there are some things that should not be published, just because something can be twisted to fuel anti-Semitism doesn't mean that it's anti-Semite.
A better way to put it is this:
(a)The real reason the religious leaders conspired to kill Jesus was because they despised Him. They despised Him because He was doing their job far better.1
(b)The religious leaders responsible for Jesus' death were Jews, but Jesus was also a Jew.
If you say that (a) occurred because of (b) then you are an anti-semite. Both (a) and (b) are logically independent statements, so they do not depend on one another. Any one ethnic or political group would have done the same thing if they had been in the position of power the religious leaders were in.
No where in this movie is it even suggested that the culture or ethnicity of the people surrounding Jesus had anything to do with why He was killed. I seriously think that the rabble surrounding anti-Semitism in the press about this movie was caused by some moron who hadn't seen the movie or even talked with those responsible. It's similar to attempting to discuss abortion or some other objectionable material. Most people choose not to educate themselves and immediately just make a conclusion based on "feeling".
I seriously doubt that Mel Gibson had it in his heart to "go after" the Jews with this movie. There are many passages in the Old Testament that
foretell the coming of Christ and the reaction that the Jews would have. While its something that I'm sure all of us are ashamed of, it was
completely necessary for God's plan to redeem all of us. If it weren't for the crucifixion of Jesus we poor gentiles would have no access
whatsoever to God.
Another thing to note is that Mel Gibson belongs to a particular sect of Catholicism that rejects the findings of the Vatican II council meeting.
So as far as absolving the Jews of their responsibility in Christ's death, Mr. Gibson has done nothing wrong within his own beliefs. I think his
portrayal of the Jews involvement in his death was 100% accurate. The Sanhedrin were hard pressed to get rid of Jesus because his teachings, however
accurate they were (and they're 100%), were threatening to their position of power. Nothing more than typical human greed and jealousy to see here.
In all fairness I have no association with the Catholic church, nor do I hold many of the beliefs in high regard. That being said, The Passion
of the Christ is a wonderful movie, in both its accurate portrayal and its cinematic presentation.
One slight problem that I had with this movie was its presentation of the events that occur when Jesus dies. I was dissatisfied with the presentation of the ripping of the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. I believe that this ripping is symbolic of how Jesus gave each of us individual access to God. This is in conflict with the Catholic beliefs however, so I believe it was minimized. The historical accounts of the curtain say it was something on the order of 20 feet by 60 feet. This is a truly massive curtain, but it is not represented that way in the movie.
Another note about the darkness that envelopes the world and the earthquakes that occur when Jesus dies: These events are actually independently verifiable in historic documents from that time period. So, however sensational it may seem. It really did happen.
For more info on historical documents see:
I will add more documents when I can do more research.
As a note:
Several people (amnesiac, iambic, mirv)have /msg'ed me that the baby mentioned above might represent the anti-Christ. This makes sense to me, but I still wonder why it was included. What does it add to the film?
1mirv says: regarding Caiphas' intent: Gibson didn't show it, but John 11 :50 gives a good picture of Caiphas' intent, written by someone who probably knew him well (John 18 :15).
Caiphas was afraid of what the Romans would do if Jesus or his followers started a revolt, and quite rightly: the two major Judaean revolts (in 70 and 135) led to the devastation and destruction of the entire province.
If you read the passage in John 11 all the the way down to verse 54 you see that Caiphas was trying to motivate people to see things his way. In verse 53 you see that they "plotted to take His life" and in verse 54 you see that Jesus left because of this. I still hold that the reason Caiphas was so concerned was that he wished to retain his position(he was greedy). Verse 48 would seem to support this becuase they say "...everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." (emphasis added)