I walked out of the theatre perhaps 30 minutes ago, so my mind is still swimming a bit, trying to sift through all the imagery and the story Gibson has told. I may ramble a bit (or come back later with more) but bear with me....A) Regarding the notion
that this film is generally "anti-semitic" in its tone and/or the message it conveys, I disagree. Completely. This movie does not attempt to villify jews (as a group). Unless my definition of the word "anti-semitic" and the ADL's definition are wildly different, I don't even think you can logically make the argument. It just isn't there, and believe me, I looked everywhere for it. In the words, in the facial expressions, in the scenery.
The only scene where most every Jew was portrayed in a poor light was in Herod's home / palace. But I don't think anyone contests that Herod and his servants were "pure as the driven snow"... so even there the argument is kind of weak. How else should he be portrayed? And frankly, I asked myself that question a number of times in the movie and didn't come up with any conclusively better / more fair means than Gibson found for most characters.
At least not relative to how they are portrayed in the Bible, which is all Gibson has to go on essentially.
Even the high-priests were not shown as bloodthirsty, so much as overly proud and protective of their power and influence. They were not made out as people who enjoy Jesus' suffering, for the sake of seeing someone suffer. They had clear political motive in mind and as such weren't portrayed any different that lots of other corrupt politicians in movies. They put their own power ahead of "the little guy's" life. This is not a new theme, and certainly not new to this story.
It is the Roman soldiers who are made out (time and again) to be savages. And by most accounts I suspect they were just that. Pilate was shown as a conflicted but not very "humane" man when it comes down to making the decisions that count. He was not portrayed in a positive light IMO. Again, as it should be. The only Roman who WAS portrayed in a positive light, was Pilate's wife. That was clear to me at least.
As far as how the mob which followed Jesus was depicted, they were like any other angry mob in a movie: cruel, and more importantly, manipulated (here by the elder priests). Gibson very clearly shows the Jewish priests goading the crowd at different points into rallying against Jesus. [Even still, some of the Jews in the crowd were shown to be "unsure" or "conflicted" about what was happening. Gibson showed the human thought process when some people stray from the "group-think" mentality and wonder "is this a good idea?"]
[In short, I don't see how a] logical person will not draw the conclusion that "Oh the whole town full of Jews was out to get Jesus and see him killed." Again, just isn't there in this movie.
For the ADL or anyone else to imply that even a majority of the Jews in the movie are made out to be savage or bloodthirsty, is politics. Plain and simple. I have to stand by my original theory here: they simply don't like the story (any version of it), and they like it even less when told in a very graphic way.
They need to own up to what bothers them... namely that they do not believe this story has any historical basis in terms of "who was really to blame". And it very well MAY be inaccurate in certain respects, but we won't know until we all (ADL included) enter into a real discussion about it. Just calling something "anti-semitic" because there are Jews in the movie who are not portrayed in a positive light (but in exactly THE SAME LIGHT as you can hear in any Sunday service around Easter IMO), does nobody any good.B) Rergarding the gore,
I don't believe that the depictions of the thrashings and beatings that Jesus took were inaccurate, but I think Gibson went to the well too often. So the problem is not accuracy but frequency IMO. And it's not even that the Romans couldn't have lashed him that many times, so much as, for the cinema he crossed the line into "overdone" territory. Just visually too much. Again though it must be said it is the Roman's who dish out 98% of the cruelty in this movie, and often the soldiers are portrayed as "doing it when the General isn't looking".
[DO NOT TAKE KIDS TO SEE THIS MOVIE. There were a couple of 7 or 8 year olds in there and despite me being a Christian at a movie all about Christ, I wanted to slap their parents silly. Inappropriate for anyone under the age of 11 or 12 IMO.]C) Regarding the character development
and timeline... I think the ending where Jesus is resurrected is necessarily short. No one (not even the Bible) really has an account for this so if Gibson were to have drawn it out, he would've been making it up as he went... I suspect he knew this and so opted to keep it simple.
I do wish certain characters' names and roles had been a little more clear. [The acting on the whole was very good and the movie was frankly well-directed in this regard. Gibson deserves some credit. He poured himself into this movie and it shows. Anyone who gives it less than three stars (just on cinematography and acting alone) is being a media puppet. 3 or 4 out of 5 is fair. It's not a great movie, but as a movie, it is very good in many respects.]
[Finally, this work] could have easily been 3 hours, but I think Gibson decided not to wuss out on the [gore] and so figured most people couldn't stomach more than two. Good decision IMO, but I you can argue it either way.D) Regarding the Satan character.
HE IS CLEARLY THERE. I thought this might be someone's misinterpretation or active imagination coming to the fore, but there is a Satan character that pops up in roughly four or five instances throughout the film. The only place I thought it appropriate and not a case of Gibson taking too much creative leeway, was the very first instance, when Jesus was essentially alone in the "wild" with his thoughts before being captured.
The other instances... particularly the one where he has that midget thing attached to him reminded me more of "The Cell" than a story about Christ. It was basically the only "Hollywood" part of the film and I wished Gibson had left it out. I got the feeling he was trying to gross me out rather than explain something. Seeing a few of these scenes made me question Gibson's mental stability a bit, but only because they kind of hint at a twisted imagination.E) The Merovingian's Wife
(Matrix) plays Mary Magdalene (I believe), for those of you looking for a purely superficial reason to see the movie. She is so beautiful... and in this movie does a good job of acting IMO.
That's all for now. Back to trivial matters like letting the neighbor's dog out.
[first round of comments added as clarification / additional thoughts]