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Meditation 191
Mel Gibson's Splatter Flick
Gorefest 28 A.D.

A discussion has been opened on this article. To add your comments use the contact page. See Meditation 157 for a pre-release opinion on this film.

A long advertised movie has just opened. Due to the level of violence, it has received highly restrictive ratings from various film classification boards. A few examples of the warnings:

"...lengthy scenes of explicit violence, torture, and brutality. This includes depictions of severe bloodletting, physical trauma, and tissue damage. It must be emphasized that some viewers may find this material to be upsetting and disturbing. Parents, in particular, are advised to consider the suitability of this content for viewing by their children." [1]

"Brutal violence, gory scenes" [2]

"...brutal and gory violence ...frightening depictions of demons ...prolonged, detailed portraits of torture by flogging ...broken bones, bloody wounds, intense agony" [3]

"Contains extended scenes of strong violence." [4]

Clearly, this is the type of film that pastors in fundamentalist churches around the world would normally build their Sunday sermons around, calling for an outright ban, lest the children be corrupted by the scenes of endless sadistic violence. Yet they are not. Instead, they are leading their entire flocks, including the children to see it. Because the film is Mel Gibson's extended and overwrought meditation on sadistic violence, The Passion of the Christ.

What happened to violence in movies inspiring violence in real life? Are those clergymen who recommend this film for children not concerned that some of their little charges might not decide to recreate scenes? We have seen lawsuits filed in the past for violence supposedly inspired by other films. I will not be surprised when the first suit is filed against Mr. Gibson, with whichever local church which recommended the film as co-defendant. For this film displays more graphic and realistic violence directed towards a single individual than possibly any other movie in history.

And it is surprising that it is largely the fundamentalist Protestant community that is lining up to support this gruesome film. Gibson, following his holocaust-denying father, is a strong supporter of the traditionalist faction of the Catholic Church, the faction which wants to turn back the clock and reject reforms to the Catholic Church, the faction that represents what Protestants rejected through the Reformation.

Gibson originally claimed he was basing this film on the Gospel according to John. Yet much of what happens in it is not to be found in John. For example, the Judas kiss is not mentioned in John, it clearly comes from Luke. And both Satan and the Virgin Mary appear far more often in the film than they do in any of the gospels. And the extended, seemingly interminable beating and whipping scene - well here is the text from John 19 with the violence highlighted.

1. Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. 2. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3. They came up to him saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands.

And those six highlighted words processed through Mel Gibson's fevered imagination were used to produce one of the most lengthy and terrible depictions of violence in film history.

There is much that is sickening in the religious beliefs of some individuals, and that sickness is displayed through this film, both on the production side, and on the side of those who promote its viewing.

For those believers who want a film about the life of Jesus based on the book of John, another movie titled "The Gospel of John" starring Henry Ian Cusick was released last year by Visual Bible International . It is rated PG and is far superior, far more authentic, far truer to the actual text, and far more likely to support religious teachings.

For non-believers, I heartily recommend Monty Python's Life of Brian.[5]

As for this particular film; well, at the beginning of every South Park episode, there's an advisory that concludes "Due to its content, it should not be viewed by anyone;" advice which should be taken seriously with respect to Mr. Gibson's film.



  1. BC Film Classification Office
  2. Ontario Film Review Board
  3. Alberta Film Classification Board
  4. British Board of Film Classification
  5. See discussion item 4