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Films are made for many reasons. Entertainment, propaganda, controversy, are but a few and in this film there is something of everything. I am not a religious person myself, but am interested in the history of religion, and am, I feel, very broadminded. I think that is probably a required trait to get the most out of this film. As with most sensitive subjects, if you already have an unwavering opinion of the matter at hand you will not learn much from the experience. So it was with the requisite open mind that I sat down to watch what has become one of the most controversial films of the moment.

The film covers a very short period of the New Testament. Only the last twelve hours of Christ's life are covered in the story, the period from betrayal by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane to the crucifixion.

One factor that has been much talked about is that the film has been made using the languages of the time, Aramaic and Latin, both dead languages as far as the modern viewer is concerned. The film is subtitled in English and far from detracting from the film, it seems to add a dimension of reality to the portrayal of events. Much of the action is very apparent without the need for dialogue. There is no real distraction from the screen events caused by the amount of subtitle involved. It is much more favourable that having the usual mechanism of everyone speaking English but with an accent so that the audience know Roman from Jew.

The cinematography has a feel of beauty and horror at the same time. The settings and backgrounds are often visually stunning and, in contrast, much of the action abhorrent. I know that the story being portrayed here is a violent one but one criticism of the film is that it does seem to dwell too much on the numerous beatings and punishments handed out to Christ. The message would still have reached the audience with only half of what ultimately pushes the film from the historical genre into the horror genre.

One of the controversial parts of the plot is the idea that the Jews, and not the Romans, were responsible for Christ's treatment and eventual death, a point that has been argued over for the last two thousand years and a main debates of this film. I suppose that what you need to take on board is that the amount of information in the gospels regarding the events is fairly limited and like any film this is only the director's personal view of events. This is where the need to be broadminded comes in. It is difficult in some respects to see what Gibson was trying to do with the film, if not just to provoke people. That said provocation leads to debate and that is always a good thing.

The cast is made up of people unknown in mainstream cinema but that seems to be a good move as making this film with star names would have probably detracted from the story and made it less powerful. Satan in particular is a fantastic role. He wanders like a ghost through the edges of the film. The film seems to move slowly through the plot, but at no point did I feel bored with the film. It is absorbing and holds you transfixed, often in a macabre way, that 'I know I shouldn't look but can help it' sort of way.

I would recommend this film to anyone. It is a film from which everyone will be able to take something. You may not agree with its portrayal of the story, but it is a film that could only have been allowed in the last few years and as such should be remembered for pushing the boundaries of film-making forward.