It has been several years, but I do vaguely recall going to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I personally had no desire to go, but some zealously thoughtful person had assumed that his friends would naturally want to go see the film shortly after its release and presumptively bought tickets to the show for me and some other of my close compadres. We went (since we were then financially obligated), and we experienced what was likely a common experience for those who went to see the movie, namely the gasps, the turning away of heads, the silent sobbing, the wails, and the somber departure from the theater. We had all witnessed the same things–a man flogged in excruciatingly gory detail, and we left as all did–utterly speechless.
If I recall that night correctly, it was quite a while before any of us dared to offer any commentary on the movie. It were as though we felt that we were obligated to keep silent after the film though the man in the movie was certainly not Jesus, and the movie was created and directed by a man who is unabashedly Catholic. Yet after the obligatory silence was lifted, a common thought about the message behind the story presented in the movie was, “So what?” Sure, the movie did what I believed it aimed to do, namely present the sufferings of a man in such a vivid and unapologetic way so as to drive its onlookers to deep pity and sorrow, but for what reason? The movie gave no explanation for the man’s sufferings, save it came through the betrayal one Judas Iscariot, yet in the context of the movie his suffering was terrible and pointless.