Well, I’ve seen The Movie now… and I can certifiably say that I was moved and provoked and pushed in ways by this picture that cannot match many events of my life in recent memory. It hasn’t even computed all the way yet, and I realize that I need to see it again, but I don’t know how soon that will be.
I had the curious fortune of seeing two films distributed by Newmarket Films in the same day, and both on very different ends of the content spectrum. The fist one, Monster, starring Charlize Theron in her Oscar-nominated role as a hooker/lesbian/serial killer, the the second the aforementioned Passion of the Christ, starring Jim Caviezel in a absolutely gut-wrenching role. He did Christ, and he did Christ with reverence, with compassion, with awe, with love, with agony and suffering of his own in the filming. He dislocated his shoulder, was struck by lightning twice, and endured 12-hour-long makeup sessions for this film. The Passion is fully about the indeifinable suffering of Jesus and secondly about the unwavering passion of the film makers involved with the picture. Whereas Monster is about the tragedy of human life and our fallen nature, Passion is about the tragedy of human life and our fallen nature, completely erased and along with all things “made new” by Christ’s sacrifice. Charlize Theron’s character, Aileen, narrates portions of her story, a slow descent into madness and delusion fueled by a misguided and inflamed desire to grab hold of something-anything that can be construed as love (even if it is with Christina Ricci’s character Selby) and do anything and everything, regardless of morality or reality or truth, to hold onto that ‘love’. Christ gave His love freely to us, even when we turned it on him and cried out for his death. Our hands nailed Him to the cross, and His blood is on us, forever… thank God that is a good thing. At one point in Monster, Aileen sits down to explain to Selby just why she has begun to lure men off the highway to kill them and take their money and cars. She explains that people are by nature sick and depraved, and that no matter what they do they can’t take away her stab at happiness. “I’m square with the Lord” she says, “People are always talking about ‘thou shalt not kill’…” and she goes on to attempt to justify her killings “You don’t know my life Selby”. Aileen descends so far into her killing spree madness that it becomes a second nature to her. Her rants are challenged consistently onward in the film, a man picks her up off the highway and offers to get her a room somewhere, help her out in some way, and he doesn’t want anything in return. He is a good man, another face of evil to Aileen. He is innocent, and she cannot handle the thought of having no real justification for her lifestyle, and she kills him. Christ is the most innocent of all men… he was God incarnate. He suffers the ultimate and dies in a cruel way… but the manner in which he dies is unlike any other deah in recorded human history. He rises again. Nobody that Aileen kills ever comes back from the grave. But Selby’s adoptive older friend who is a Christian attempts to convince her to cut ties with Aileen “People make choices, and they have to deal with the consequences of those choices…”, “No”, Selby contends, “This is who I am, not a choice I make” but it is a choice. And Aileen’s chances for true redemption are there… hard to see, but they’re there. But she is clinging to a love that is not real, an unrequited obsession. Monster is based on a true story and ends with Aileen’s execution, she was the most notorious female serial killer in America. The Passion ends with Christ’s giving up of his spirit at the place of the skull, Golgotha. Aileen goes out on a bitter note, scoffing at any and all notions of true happiness or love… she is shattered and unrepentant. Too bad. Because in a graveyard of thieves, on a dry and dusty summit outside of Jerusalem, the son of man gave up his spirit and spoke “Father Father, why have you forsaken me?”… Three days later the stone rolled away, the linens lay there alone, and the body was gone. We all make choices, and Jesus is there offering us the only choice we’ll ever really need to make.
I must post more on this later, I’m late for class!