The Passion of the Christ: The Crucifixion.

In the scene where Jesus is carrying the cross, there are a lot of things happening that don’t in many crucifixion scenes. Jesus holds onto the cross for dear life, he is not only carrying the heavy wooden plank, but grasping it as if for some sort of comfort. It looks to me as if he’s gripping it so tightly to help bare this horrible tragedy, to hide himself from the crowd that’s tormenting him. He looks like a scared child desperately holding onto his father’s leg for safety. Hs agony and the amount of pain he is feeling are emphasized in this scene.

 

We get a small glimpse in the mind of Jesus by the use of quick cuts to the past. As Jesus is walking, in severe pain and agony, his mind takes him to a better place. The agitated crowd is throwing things and cursing at him, but Jesus is remembering a time when the people of Jerusalem praised him and openly loved him. He flashes back to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We get a small vision, twice, from Jesus’ point of view as he’s riding a donkey through the streets. His people lay palms at his feet and smile at his arrival. Jesus is trying to mentally return to a time of peace, without pain and suffering. The palm scene is a story told and praised every Palm Sunday in worship. The people of Jerusalem were overjoyed upon his arrival, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).  This works well to compare how Jesus’ people turned their backs on him.

Two other predominant characters are shown throughout the whole scene. We get a clear picture of their mentality and approach as they both follow Jesus. The camera cuts from Jesus to Mary and to the hooded figure, Satan. Mary and Satan watch each other slowly from other sides of the crowd, as they both follow Jesus, as he’s carrying the cross. Mary looks at Satan in concern and possibly an understanding of who he is and Satan looks at Mary in a daring, taunting, and provocative manner. Mary’s gaze is a fearful one and yet one of utter disgust.

When Jesus is hung on the cross, Mel Gibson truly does not leave one detail out of the whole process. Jesus is clearly beaten and whipped on every exposed inch of his skin. The look of agony on his face is heart wrenching. I think because we are so used to the portrayal of the story of the crucifixion in most movies, we assume after Jesus was hung on the cross, he immediately died and was taken to Heaven. In the bible there are a few contradictions pertaining to the exact time and amount of hours, but after careful consideration and speculation by many, it was come to some sort of conclusion that Jesus hung from some part of the morning until late afternoon.

“Mark says he was crucified in the third hour which could mean for him sometime in the late morning, leading up to noon. John says Jesus was tried by Pilate at about the sixth hour (or a bit earlier since he did not have a Timex to confirm the exact time) and was straightaway crucified. This puts Mark and John very close, even overlapping. So, Jesus was on the cross from possibly late morning or almost noon until the ninth hour, or about3 PM” (Steve Ray).

Mel Gibson does a wonderful job in reminding his audience that there was a significant amount of time that Jesus remained alive and in agony upon the cross.  He shows the passing of time by fading from a long distance shot of the mountain to a foggy sky. We watch the clouds for a short time and then cut back to Jesus’ agony with two quick cuts.  These cuts allow us to get a sense that time is passing, quickly for us, but slowly for Jesus. Gibson cuts from clouds to Jesus, giving us a sense of God’s presence watching over his son. We all seem to be waiting for his intervention as we keep getting shots of Jesus’ face in anguish. Jesus looks up at the sky in waiting with the audience. The shots of the sky could be Jesus’ point of view. We see his blood dripping down the post; he’s losing a lot blood, any moment now God should be here. These scenes are building the suspense to his arrival. We are waiting in distress, with Jesus, for it to end. Close up shots of his eye, the only eye that remains open, gives us his state of mind. He seems fearful, his eyes looking from the ground to the sky. Where is his father? We fade back to the sky, still awaiting God’s arrival. A group of soldiers are amusing themselves by playing a game at the feet of Jesus. We get a God-like shot from above the cross down at the soldiers as thunder begins to strike, calling the attention of some of the soldiers. God has arrived.

 

"How Long Was Jesus on the Cross" By Steve Ray

http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/WhatTimeCrucified.pdf

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


One Response to “The Passion of the Christ: The Crucifixion.”

  1.   David Richter Says:

    Great response and I love the stills you put in.

    Re Caviezel carrying the cross: The fifteen-foot cross Gibson had created for the production was enormously heavy–although a real cross that size would have weighed over 300 pounds (there’s a reason that the uprights were left in place at the execution site and the criminals carried only the crossbar). At one point in the shooting sequence Caviezel (who had done massive exercise to train for the physical demands of the role) took a mis-step and the cross came down on him, smashing him on the back of the head and grinding his face into the stones of Matera. He was out of the production recovering for several days.

    The festive entrance into Jerusalem for me always points up a contradiction within the synoptic gospels. It justifies Caiaphas’s understanding that Jesus is so popular that he has to be arrested in secret and at night to avoid causing a riot, but Jesus is so unpopular the next morning that the crowd standing before Pilate yells to have Barabbas rather than Jesus released.

    The emphasis on Satan and Mary as parallel figures during the passion comes from the Emmerich/Brentano Dolorous Passion book rather than the Gospels.

    The “God-like shot” is one of the best special effects and (unlike most of the others, like the process shots that make the scourging so hard to watch) it’s one that’s designed to be noticed, as a divine teardrop falling as the storm begins. (They used miniaturized models to do the zoom effect.)

Leave a Reply

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar