Before the first midnight showing of “The Passion of the Christ” on Wednesday, February 25th, 2004, several Christian Post reporters went to Arclight Cinemas theatre during late hours to interview the viewers before the film started. Tickets were sold out for the first show-time on a weekday night, which unveiled the great anticipation of the viewers. The majority of the crowd was young adults and middle-aged men and women.
Standing in live for tickets, an older man in his forties exclaimed with enthusiasm, “I’m very excited! I’ve read every advertisement about this movie. We’re all here together to watch and gain something new in our hearts! I’m hoping that it’s going to be as interesting as it’s hyped up to be.”
“I’m anticipating a good and artistic film from Mel Gibson. Biblically accurate. I hope it shows who Jesus Christ was. No, I don’t think this film is anti-Semitic. If this is anti-Semitic, then anything Christian is anti-Semitic. I hope it represents what happened 2000 years ago. I believe it, but I didn’t see it for myself. I hope many good movies come out about things that matter,” a young adult couple commented.
A middle aged African American woman named Sylvia said with high hopes, “This movie is going to be good! It reveals the sufferings, the distress. I hope everyone will watch it, not just Christians. This movie, I hope will save souls.”
Justin Brunett, a current student at Biola University, kindly took the time to answer a few questions.
Question: Are you a Christian? Do you go to church?
Response: Yes. Yes I attend church.
Question: Do you think this movie would simply reveal the love of Christ or does it seem that it may contain anti-Semitic notions?
Response: I think this movie will definitely portray the love of Christ. It is telling the story that Christ was crucified by the people He was among. Anti-Semitism shouldn’t be an issue for this movie.
Question: Since we know that this movie will contain graphic images, what is your opinion on it containing such graphic images of the suffering of Christ?
Response: I think it’s good that it’s an active portrayal of the crucifixion. It shouldn’t be censored in any way.
Question: Personally, what do think you’ll gain from watching this movie? And how is your view of Christ now?
Response: I think I’ll gain a greater appreciation for what Christ did and seeing it as it was. He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, greatest sacrifice, and as a result of that, we have eternal life.
Question: What is your viewpoint of the cross?
Response: It is the symbol of sacrifice and love. A passion. What He did for us.
Question: Would you want more films like this one to come out?
Response: Yes, though I’d urge filmmakers to be careful w/ their biblical portrayals.
A mixture of both fanatic to indifferent non-believers and believers of Christ had gone to watch this controversial film by Mel Gibson. With each person entering the theatre with different expectations and backgrounds, their views on the film differed. As the movie came to an end, some people in the audience applauded for the true victory of Jesus Christ, while others were left unmoved.
Barbara Powell sincerely expressed, “This is a new experience…what Jesus Christ did for us. I am overwhelmed for this love and sacrifice. It makes me want to be a better Christian.”
“For both non-Christians and Christians, this is a heavy movie. I don’t know if everyone can handle it or not,” states Celine Pell.
Alex, a former Christian who has left the path of faith in perplexity, commented,” This opened my eyes, it reminded me of Christ’ amazing love. It stabs me. For a long time, I lost interest in God. But this makes me want to delve into God’s world more.”
Kevin from Manchester felt numb throughout the movie. He expressed his deep longing to know God, uttering, “I don’t know what to say, or what to think. One thing for sure is that I will reflect on my life and take it more seriously and preciously. I cannot say that I know Christ, but I can sure say that He is alive.”
Another viewer said, “I respect this movie as a creative art form of history. Although some scenes were quite unbearable, it was a great way of depicting an event of the past.”
Some said that it was truly powerful while a few others said that, “It was just another Hollywood movie.” Depending on the heart of the moviegoer, the film will be received and embedded in a different way. As this message of the gospel gets planted into many souls, may God work in them many wonders.