Immediately after viewing The Passion during the week that it opened, I wrote:
Regarding the violence, it is a very violent film. I’m not sure how much of that reflects what Gibson felt audiences have come to expect of movies of all genres (ranging from slasher films, to cop films such as Mel’s own Lethal Weapon movies, all the way to war films such as Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down), and how much he equates, as Andrew Sullivan wrote, Jesus’ torture with the intensity of His beliefs and the importance of His mission. Sullivan:
[Click over to original post to read long excerpt from Sullivan.]
All that being said, perhaps I’ve been numbed by the ultraviolence of today’s films, or if I had expected far worse from most critics’ reviews. The violence is very, very intense and brutal, as is the bloodletting. But it’s certainly watchable, given the story that surrounds it.
But The Passion arrived with its story already known by 99.99 percent of its potential audience. That’s very different from Apocalypto–who knows what it’s about? And in a post titled, “Buckets O’ Blood”, John Derbyshire writes that it’s even bloodier–if that’s possible–than its immediate predecessor:
Back when Mel Gibson brought out The Passion of the Christ, I offered the opinion on NRO that Mel is much too interested in scenes of gruesome things happening to human bodies, and I suggested that as an added draw for his future movies, movie theaters might be rigged up with machines to squirt fake blood at the audience at suitable points in the story. (I had not, and still have not, seen Passion; my opinion was based on Mel’s pre-Passion work.)
Many NRO readers thrilled at the success of Passion emailed in to scold me for my disrespectful remarks. We-e-ell, here is Roger Friedman reviewing Apocalypto, Mel’s new movie, for Fox News:
Apocalypto is the most violent movie Disney has ever released, with so much blood spurting out of orifices that even Martin Scorsese would blush. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see heads and hearts removed without anesthesia, then this is the movie for you. Grey’s Anatomy it is not.
[Derb] Actually, sounds like Gray’s Anatomy it **is**.