April 4th, 2004


The Passion of The Christ

This is a well made film.

The acting is good.  The direction is good.  The script is good.  The special effects are good (if slightly jarring in a couple of places).  There is, in fact, nothing really wrong with this film, in and of itself.

Except that it's written for the inner circle.

Let's say you were making a Batman film.  You can make a film that works in and of itself - contains enough information that a person can appreciate it even if they've never heard of Batman before.  Or you can make a film that assumes a pretty good working knowledge of Batman, his history, his enemies, his parents, his drives, etc. and focus on a pivotal moment in his life.

The latter would obviously work a lot better than the former for fanboys.  They'd lap up the attention to detail, the little pieces that drift by in the background, all the essential coolness that comes from a film made by fans for fans.  But the mainstream non-fan would be left wondering what on earth was going on.

For once I found myself on the outside looking in, unable to really feel any emotional involvement in the film because all the backstory that's necessary to empathise with the central character is in the book that the film is drawn from, not in the film itself.

Imagine that Return of the King covered the last two hours of what was actually in the film.  And that there hadn't been the previous two films.  You'd hear Tolkeinistas talk about the huge sacrifice made by all involved.  You'd see the pain and trauma they went through.  But you'd never have any real reason to care about them - if you wanted all of that stuff you'd have to go and read the book.

Nothing much else to say here.  If you're a christian then you have a reason to go and see this, otherwise there's not really enough story to make it worthwhile.  The film's caused a bit of a fuss on three basic grounds - gore, anti-semitism and subtitles.

I've seen gorier but, unless you giggled through Audition and ate through Bad Taste, you'll probably be put off by the relentless sadism.  And to be honest, the seventh time that Jesus falls over on the way from Jerusalem to Golgotha it starts to get a little repetitive.  I did wince twice, once when the broken glass is pulled out, the other when the classic 'injury to eye' motif is used.

I didn't find the film anti-semitic.  It followed pretty much the path I expected - his death is demanded by the Rabbinical council for heresy, Pilate tries to calm them, but gives in to prevent revolt.  Yes, the Jewish leaders are shown in a negative way, but that's the original story.  There was an effort made to show that there were Jews who thought it was a farce and that it wasn't Jews per se who did him wrong, just a religious heirarchy that felt threatened.

And I hardly even noticed the subtitles, no more than watching a Mexican, Chinese or Indian  film.  I did spot a few words of Latin, dredged from the horror of my lessons, but unless you have a problem with subtitles in general it's not a problem.  Nobody seemed stilted and everyone managed to sound convincing with their ancient Aramaic (I, of course, am an expert in the field).

Score: 6.5/10
ObQuote - Pilate: Ecce Homo

If you _really_ want to see a film in which there's horrible gore and death, but they come back to life later, go see Dawn of the Dead...

(no subject)

"If there is any generalisation that you can draw about how men think versus how women think, I believe it is that men can narrow themselves down to this incredible narrow laser-beam focus on one tiny little subject and think about nothing else."
"Whereas women can't?"
"I suppose women can. They rarely seem to want to.  What I'm characterising here, as the female approach, is essentially saner and healther."
"See, you are being a little paraoid here and focusing on the negative too much.  It's not about how women are deficient.  It's more about how men are deficient.  Our social deficiencies, lack of perspective, or whatever you want to call it, is what enables us to study one species of dragonfly for twenty years, or sit in front of a computer for a hundred hours a week writing code.  This is not the behavour of a well-balanced and healthy person, but it can obvioyusly lead to great advances in synthetic fibres.  Or whatever."
"But you said that you yourself were not very focused."
"Compared to other men in my family, that's true.  So, I know a little about astronomy, a lot about computers, a little about business, and i have, if I may say so, a slightly higer level of social functioning than the others. Or maybe it's not even functioning, just an acute awareness of when i'm not functioning, so at least i know when to feel embarassed."
Amy laughs "You're definitely good at that.  it seems like you sort of lurch from one moment of feeling embarassed to the next."
Randy gets embarassed.
"It's fun to watch." Amy says encouragingly.  "It speaks well of you."
"What I'm saying is that this does set me apart.  One of the most frightening things about your true nerd, for many people, is not that he;s socially inept - because everybody's been there - but rather his complete lack of embarassment about it."
"Which is still kind of pathetic."
"It was pathetic when they were in high school," Randy says.  "Now it's something else.  Something very different from pathetic."
"What, then?"
"I don't know.  There is no word for it.  You'll see."

Says Neal Stephenson, in the frankly fantastic Cryptonomicon.

I can totally empathise with this.  I actually feel like I'm not focussed enough.  There are many things i want to do, and all of them require me to bury myself away with computers for long periods of time.  But I miss people, which pulls me back out.  I'm too easily distracted, I have in some ways become too well socialised.  I miss the focus I had where I could spend my time neck deep inside code, occasionally surfacing for air.

Personally, I blame the roleplaying.