Secret Pop

Feb 26, 2004

Oh, yeah. The score.

I forgot to make the comment that John Debney's score in The Passion of the Christ sounded so much like James Horner. There are pieces plucked right from Glory. I like John Debney, but I'm used to hearing his work in comedies and animated features, the occasional action flick, I guess. It was grand enough, though.

There are a lot of things I forgot to criticize. And there was that nagging feeling that -- if the goal of this picture was ever to evangelize -- it really blows a chance to tell the actual story. You don't see why the high priests have such a beef with Jesus. You don't see why Judas' guilt is so piquant. You don't see why people thought he was holy or why others thought he was dangerous. And because you don't see these things, you don't incorporate them into the film. Unless you are well-schooled in the gospels and are just going to the cinema to see a startlingly violent depiction of a tale you've heard before. However, if you are going to the cinema not really knowing the whole story, you will leave knowing little more than that. You'll just have a far more vivid idea of what it was like to die as Jesus, as opposed to any sort of idea of how it was to live as him. Or near him for that matter. In a way, I'm surprised that Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell have endorsed the film so vociferously. It's not that it would offend, but I'm surprised the evangelistic community didn't see this is a gargantuan missed opportunity.

You do see a few pieces of the preceding events. Little snatches here and there. Mostly in flashbacks bookended with dramatic slamming noises. Reminiscences of tender moments being recalled during moments of horrific agony. There are a handful of gentle vignettes, but they almost seem forced. Like when Mel Gibson implies that Jesus invented the dining table and chairs. I've read my Josephus, and I don't remember this bit. For my money, comic relief might have been the one element Gibson could have foregone in this flick.

I don't speak Latin or Aramaic, so I can't say if there are people out there who screwed up their faces and made that stinky face when they heard all these guys butchering their syllables. I suspect there might have been some of that. But I actually thought telling the story in this fashion might have been a stroke of genius. I do think that a lot of those lines have become canonized to such an extent that it might have just sounded corny to hear them in English. But I don't know. I got tired of craning to see the subtitles because they appeared so low on the screen that the heads of the people in front of me were often in the way.

And if there is room for such a complaint, I kept being distracted by all the special effects around Jim Caviezel's eyes.

And I'm pretty sure I've said all I need to. If I mention this picture again, it will probably be in reference to something else. It's not a promise, but it takes up space.

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