Scripted entirely in Aramaic and Latin, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is interpreted by a set of fantastic actors who convey all the pain and hope of the story. Starting with Caviezel who does a wonderful job of capturing both the human and Godly sides of Christ. We'll never know whether Jesus was as tall as Caviezel, or had the same eyes, the same hair or the same body, but that doesn't matter. What we do know from the Gospel is the Spirit He had and whether we see it in Caviezel only because we want to or because we expect to, he has to be commended for putting forth a remarkable portrayal of the Messiah and probably the best one since Robert Powell in JESUS OF NAZARETH. The other standout in Maia Morgenstern as the Virgin Mary, Jewish by birth, Morgenstern was able to freeze in our minds the horrified look of any mother as she would be while watching her son get brutally tortured and murdered. One specific scene (albeit one never mentioned in the Gospel) was particularly effective in portraying the close bond between Mary and her Son. The passage in which she briefly sees Him as he walks down the walls of Jerusalem carrying His cross is as painful as it is revealing of Gibson's understanding of just how touching Christ's passage on earth was and of just how much His resurrection on the third day would affect humanity.
Visually, the film is breathtaking. As brutal as its images are, their impact is never lessened by excess. This movie deals with the slaughter of an innocent Man therefore expecting anything other than that would be foolish, but although some scenes do get a bit hard to watch, they only serve to emphasize Gibson's point that if watching them is difficult, living them willingly to atone for humanity's sins is even more. There's also some terrific imagery showing Satan trying to tempt Jesus and those around him during moments of weakness. I remember being a bit torn by these images at first and not being quite sure if I believed they fit into the film or not. After taking some time away and seeing it once more though, they were more than effective in displaying how hard it can be to resist giving everything up to temptation. Overall, a truly majestic effort by Gibson not only in putting Christ's suffering back at the forefront of discussion but also in remaining true to the Gospel. This is a film that absolutely has to be seen by anyone seeking to comprehend why Jesus changed the world as he did. With all due respect to Mel Gibson and all involved though, and if I may permit myself a small observation, the Book, as usual, is still better than the movie...