Far from a movie that was surrounded with buzz, The Passion of the Christ wasn’t a film that attracted a lot of attention by the usual movie buzz outlets, simply because of the type of film it was. Eventually upon the release the film didn’t even fare all that well with critics, currently sitting at a 50% average on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite all of this, however, the $30 budgeted film went on to gross over half a billion dollars worldwide and has since seen a couple theatrical runs as well as a few home video releases. Now, for the first time, The Passion of the Christ is available in Blu-ray in full 1080p that allows you to witness Mel Gibson’s classic film like never before.
The Passion of the Christ focuses on the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life. The film begins in the Garden of Olives where Jesus has gone to pray after the Last Supper. Jesus must resist the temptations of Satan. Betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus is then arrested and taken within the city walls of Jerusalem where leaders of the Pharisees confront him with accusations of blasphemy and his trial results in a condemnation to death.
It’s weird to try and review this film. For some reason I don’t view it as just another film and as such it it’s difficult for me to simply comment on cinematography, pacing or acting. Obviously that is in large part due to the way I was raised and my religion, but honestly it’s very difficult for me to view this as simply “just another” film. It isn’t even that I’m particularly enthralled or blown away by it either; no matter how you cut it it is a deeply emotional and moving film, but more than that it somehow feels…odd to look at this one with a critical eye.
But, hey, that’s what I’m here to do so awkward feelings be dammed, right? The Passion of the Christ moved individuals to tears when it first came into theaters and, depending on your religion and ability to get caught up in the film, there’s a good chance that it continues to do so today. While I wasn’t forced into sobbing gasps, it was a very moving film but I’m not sure how much of that was actually evoked because of my religion or just because the film is so damn brutal. I mean there’s a fine line between exploitation violence and actually depicting what may or may not have happened; simply put, at times the violence and flesh tearing got to be a bit much in the film and at times it went well beyond just a dramatic tool and into something that genuinely felt wholly inhumane.
I’m sure I’ll catch flak from someone reading this review no matter how I dance around religion, but honestly the violence really is one of the films biggest issues. Watching the “edited” version (which is still absolutely brutal, but a little less intense) the film really doesn’t attempt to fill you in on the goings on and merely assumes the viewer knows their Bible. Granted, the giant cash flow this film received was due to the patrons more than knowing the entire history of the Bible from cover to cover, but those a little less informed weren’t really given a pass onto what was happening on screen.
And, again, that brings me to the point that this isn’t an ordinary film. In many ways it’s more of a companion piece to religion than anything. It brings visuals to the descriptions in the Bible and unless you have the words of the Bible engrained in your brain, there’s a chance you won’t fully grasp what’s going on in the film. Then again there’s also the chance you’ll just be put off by the brutality of it and instead shut it off because of that.
In the end it’s honestly very hard to accurately judge this film. It was definitely moving and for the films target audience, it’s obviously a Recommended outing (though how often you could manage to watch it is a whole other matter), but for those who are merely curious and aren’t necessarily the most religious people in the world…well, if you haven’t seen it by now I’m guessing you won’t be too eager to do so. Still, for what it’s worth it is a very finely crafted film from Mel Gibson, with plenty of rich cinematography that brings to life the world the film so graphically depicts.
Fox has released The Passion of the Christ in a two disc release without any notices other than a firmware upgrade and disc art that mimics the cover. No slipcover is included and the menus for the film are simple and easy to navigate. One nice thing about this Blu-ray release is Fox didn’t merely re-use the previous editions covers, but rather created a custom look for this release. Granted it takes the blue hue of the previous “Definitive” DVD release and pairs it with the original single disc releases golden cover, but still. It’s more than other studios would do. Two versions of the film are included, the original theatrical edition and the aforementioned “less violent” cut. Extras are the same as the “Definitive” DVD release from 2007 and are included on a separate standard DVD.
Included here is an AVC encoded (@22.5mbps) transfer for the film that looks really quite spectacular. What makes it look so brilliant, you ask? Well the film was always entrenched in grain and dark hues for the first half of the film and as such the DVD didn’t exactly replicate the image as well as it could have. But here, there’s a lot more real estate to play with and the film is able to breathe infinitely better with plenty of grain amassed across the image and just an overall superb level of clarity. Of course that can make the film all the more difficult to take in, but those looking for clarity won’t be disappointed. The included DTS-HD Master Audio track is equally brutal, with a mean sounding subwoofer whenever the whip cracks. Surrounds are active during the crowd sequences and there are also a few sound effects that make their way around the room, such as the aforementioned whip cracks and screams of Jesus. Hebrew/Latin/Aramaic 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, SDH English and English SDH, Korean, Brazillian Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Thai subtitles.
In the extras department we have:
Disc One: Blu-ray High-Definition Disc
•Original Theatrical and Less Violent Re-cut Versions of the Film
•Enhanced Viewing Mode with Biblical Footnotes
•Audio Commentaries with Mel Gibson, Filmmakers and Theologians
•Music Commentary with John Debney (selected scenes only)
Disc Two: Standard Definition
•Making Of The Passion of The Christ Exclusive Documentary
•The Legacy: A Historical & Cultural Retrospective of the Crucifixion
•Historical Photo Gallery
As you can see extras are identical to the previous two-disc DVD release, so those looking forward to this Blu-ray release for more extras will be disappointed. Although I have to say, the amount of extras on this release is certainly quite obscene; an in-depth commentary and a whole slew of extras on the second disc (including the in-depth Making Of) make this quite a bargain for what you get and if you don’t already own the previous Definitive release then this Blu-ray will be right up your alley. If you do already own it, however, then you may want to give this one a pass—nothing new here except for the video and audio which is really quite outstanding.
The Passion of the Christ: Definitive Edition is now available on Blu-ray