Conveying Christ's Divinity

However, the film also maintains a certain degree of objectivity in its approach to Jesus and thus manages to convey his divinity as well. Indeed, the very fact that Jesus is often more of an observer than an active participant in the events that surround him lends a certain abstract quality to him as a character. His relationship with Mary, so human and winsome in the flashback to his life as a carpenter, turns more mystical as he is detained by the authorities. At one point Jesus is imprisoned in an underground cell, and Mary, standing in the room above him, senses his presence beneath the floor and kneels directly above him; in return, Jesus, sensing his mother through the ceiling, looks up.

Significantly, Gibson retains the tradition of showing how the very sight of Jesus can affect people and convict them, at least momentarily, of their sins. When Jesus is brought before Herod Antipas, the king and his entourage mock Jesus mercilessly, but one soldier trades point-of-view shots with Jesus—and when Jesus looks at him, the soldier looks away uncomfortably. Similarly, the Barabbas of this film is a vile, vulgar brute who eggs the mob on when they cry for Barabbas's release, and who rudely wags his tongue at the Roman who sets him free—but when he looks at Jesus, his coarse confidence falters, and he seems slightly troubled before he turns back to the crowd and basks in its attention once more. (As with Malchus, so with Barabbas: The person observed by Jesus is framed in isolation, while the head of the person Jesus observes is visible when the film cuts back to a close-up of Jesus's face.) Even the high priest Caiaphas, so resolutely antagonistic toward Jesus throughout the rest of ...

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