Saturday, 23 April 2011


Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Passion Recut

Click to enlargeFebruary 2004: A time I will never forget. One of Hollywood's biggest box-office draws laid his money, his career and his repuation on the altar in an attempt to fulfill a destiny that God put before him. Many prayed for him. Critics mocked him. Naysayers scoffed (and are still doing so). Biblical scholars picked the film apart due to its dramatic embellishments. Members of the Jewish community feared that the film would spark a worldwide wave of anti-Semitism. Some felt the film was a meaningless Hollywood spectacle. Others felt that the message of the film was lost in the midst of its graphic violence. But for every critic who mocked, every naysayer who scoffed and every voice who spoke with fear and loathing, there were dozens more who accepted, embraced and adored this film. Its box office success may have forever changed the film industry as we know it. But, more important than its box office figures, only the Subject of this film knows how many lives were brought closer to Him as a result of Mel Gibson's labor of love.
Click to enlargeOne year and one month after the phenomenon known as The Passion Of The Christ was released into theatres, Mel Gibson has re-released this film in a slightly altered version. The Passion Recut, as this new version is titled, has five to six minutes cut from its original running time. The footage was cut from the two most violent and controversial scenes in the film: the scourging of Jesus by the Roman soldiers, and the Crucifixion.

  • The second portion of the scourging scene (when the soldiers beat Jesus with the "cat o' nine" whip) has been re-edited to eliminate just about every close-up shot when the whip hits Jesus' body. Gone are the agonizing scenes in which the hooks on the whip rip chunks of Jesus' flesh off. In place of those images, Gibson has inserted close-up shots of Jesus's agonized face, the reactions of the crowd and the soldiers hitting him—and, most notably, the majority of these close-ups are focused on Mary (Maia Morgenstern). In this re-edit, we are given a deeper glimpse into Mary's anguish and suffering as she watches her son being beaten.
  • Post-scourging, we no longer witness the crown of thorns being pressed into Jesus' head. Nor do we see the soldiers beating the crown onto His head with the staff.
  • In the Crucifixion, we no longer witness the nails being hammered into Jesus' hands and feet. Also cut is the scene in which they flip the Cross over to secure the nails into it, then turn the Cross back over again.
  • The very grotesque scene of the bird pecking out the thief's eye has also been edited. We see the bird pecking at him, but it's cut in a way that the audience doesn't see anything bloody or graphic.
  • Satan's torment in the Garden of Gethsemane and the crushing of the snake by Jesus's heel.
  • We still see Jesus's battered and bruised body when He's "indicted" by the Pharisees.
  • None of the Judas scenes have been cut... most notably the scene in which he hangs himself in the midst of the dead and rotted animal flesh.
  • After the scourging is completed, and throughout the remainder of the film, we still see Jesus' body laden with the stripes that have healed us (Isaiah 53:5). The trail of blood left behind after the scourging is still there. Mary and Mary Magdelene (Monica Bellucci) still clean it up with the cloths given by Pilate's wife.
  • After He dies on the Cross, the piercing of His side is still intact. Blood and water pours out as expected and illustrated by Scripture.
  • Last, but not least, THE MESSAGE!
    Click to enlargeI am happy to report that the message of this film has not been cut in any way, shape or form. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever... just like the message of this film. It is still as moving and powerful as it was last Spring. It's practically the same film we saw last Spring minus the extreme violence. The violence and bloodshed would have still carried an R-rating. But it's nowhere near the level of the original version. With a few more edits, this version will probably be the one that makes it to television. Even minus the extreme violent sequences, the power and message of the film still shine through.
    Click to enlargeAs many of Hollywood Jesus's regular readers know, I was right in the thick of the infamous debating that took place in the forum for the original version. I cheered and championed Gibson's choice to make the film as extremely violent as possible (you may recall my own personal tagline for the film: "THE BLOOD IS COMING!")—not for the sake of gratuitous violence, but because I felt, in light of a society drawn to over-the-top violence in films and video games, that it would take a violent depiction of Christ's suffering to communicate the power of His sacrifice. The more comments I read, however, the more I realized how uncomfortable people were with the film because of the violence. Many people couldn't even receive the message of the film because they were hammered down by the violence in the film. It looks like God has used your prayers and concerns to (yet again) touch Mel Gibson's heart to create this new version. Gibson has stated that he recut the film for those who were uncomfortable with the extreme violence. He wanted to create a version that folks could bring their grandparents and younger teens to see. Mission accomplished. Hopefully many of you who were uncomfortable with the original version will revisit this new edition of the film and see it with a fresh perspective.

    The Verdict: The Passion Recut is a worthy alternative to the original version. As we approach another Easter season, this classic film—be it Original or Recut—is definitely a film worth revisiting as we reflect on Jesus' ultimate sacrifice.
posted by Chris Utley at 11:15 PM

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