A Description of a Really Nice Sausage
Sunday, December 12, 2004
  If I were going to make a movie about Christ's life, and admittedly, I'm neither Christian, orientologist, theologian, filmmaker, nor even a fan of gospel movies particularly, I would approach it very understatedly—cut out superfluous music, eschew dramatic camera angles, just simply follow the man and the message.

Cuz like here I went expecting Gibson's Passio to be something new, something I could attach to as a non-Christian, and of course I apparently knew absolutely nothing of Gibson's religious sensibilities, nor despite his use of native languages his willingness at the end of the long baby jesus brigade to simpy hand over yet another honky savior who looks more like a mechanic and part-time bassist for a rockabilly band down in like Savanna, GA with a bad haircut than the son of God—and so here I am pontificating (my—that's a pun-and-a-half) my own filmic treatment of Yeshwa's execution.

I should note here that my ideas about Jesus and his life are more informed by art than by Gospel, though I have read them. So if I make a few refernces to paintings below, please pardon.

And so numero uno we get someone swarthy to play Jesus. Next, we fire the cinematographer. Or at least pay him much less.

There's that initial scene in Passio that's all blue and foggy, and it almost reminds me a bit of El Greco's Agony in the Garden, except Gibson's Jesus isn't all taffied and stretched and—really, it seems a lot murkier and it's not at all clear from the camera work that Jesus is actually communing with spirits and not simply some wacko alone in Gethsemane, like some local pastor who shall remain nameless though he got away with exhibition.

We don't need crap like this. I would think that the story of the savior's death and triumph over it (i.e., Death) would be exciting and important enough that it didn't require special lighting, cliché vaguely Middle-Eastern-sounding wailing music, etc.

Moreover, I like this other painting whose title escapes me, circa 1600s and in a kind of Caravaggiesque style, showing Jesus and John the Baptist emerging from the water following Jesus's baptism, and the dude looks weary, bedraggled, clearly soaked and dragging his besotted cloak half-off, a bit out of shape with a stout body and a little belly. Right there is like his whole capacity for suffering, not a strong, knotted kouros but a panting, patient guy who takes everything in stride. He knows what he can do to ameliorate things, but he knows what he has to do to effect the salvation of mankind. So he does it.

Which makes the agony problematic for me, and in particular giving any weight to any of Jesus's sufferings is problematic for me, not just because I can think of worse ways to be tortured and killed (and here Gibson led us on the sadistic rampage for a good reason, I think, in an effort to convince people who hadn't really thought about it how brutal Jesus's treatment had to have been), but because the "reward," if you like, or at least the consequences of his suffering are so great as to render the torture moot. If I were assured of resurrection and a place by God's side as his son and Judge of Mankind, I'd be saying, "Where's the red-hot pincers? You can't flay me properly, silly Romans, without red-hot fucking pincers!"

But I'll tell you what I'd leave in—the sadism I'd leave in. This is the passion, after all, the lesson is that sin's wages are blood and pain and death, and in this final orgy of pain comes the absolution of man. It's like, if you can't stand watching sausage being made, maybe you shouldn't eat it. Plus, the role of the Jews. I realize that for centuries Jews 'N' Jesus were to pogroms as alcohol is to unwanted pregnancies; I am aware that for many people, social development in the twenty-first century has yet to eclipse that of shit-stained, angry, starving peasants in Merovingian France. Still—that's the way the story goes. Plus, at least we all realize that because some Jews killed a guy 2000 years ago, that act's culpability doesn't transfer to people today who maybe haven't had an ancestor's foot on Palestinian soil in over a millennium, right? We do realize that, right?

Last things last: ditch the devil in that weird Sinead O'Connor guise. The devil should be in the details, a theoretical presence. Also, those hokey scenes of Jesus's homelife—oh my God.

However, if I were to make this movie, even if it were only about the passion, as Gibson's was, I don't think I could resist doing a flashback to the nativity using the same iconography of the crossed wooden beams in the stable's structure as European painters have used for centuries. I think it's just so damned clever. Oh, and real crucifixion, too, iconography be goddamned.
 
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