Mel Gibson’s Passion movie

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What happened next


Is that it? Is that really all there is? Is death the end of the story? Take a sneak peak at what might be going on beyond the final curtain. What were the last words of Jesus? What did he say to his friends and enemies in the last hours of his life? And what do they tell us about the meaning of his life... and his death?

That’s the trouble with death. It always seems to leave you with the dissatisfied feeling you used to have when your mother closed the storybook before the end, because she wanted to turn the lights out.

If death is the end, if there really isn’t anything beyond "fade to black" (other than the credits), then the whole story of life really seems to be meaningless and empty. Maybe that's why we’ve been fascinated by the question “what happens next” since the first time we realised we were going to die.

Maybe that's also why the story of Jesus turned from just another tragic account of promise cut short, to the beginning of a whole new chapter which has inspired people for the last 2,000 years.

It's as though, just as the audience were struggling into their coats, the screen flickered back into life.

Just as Jesus' disciples were working out how to sneak back into their old lives without losing too much face, Jesus, the leader they’d buried three days earlier, was standing in their living room, alive again, asking what was for breakfast.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not at all unusual for people to claim that people they love have spoken to them from beyond the grave, nor is it in any way exceptional for claims to abound of celebrities, sighted, alive and well, long after their demise.

But there’s a world of difference between having your account of bumping into James Dean on a tram at Blackpool Illuminations published in the tabloid press, and standing up in a high street, crowded with people who have just successfully demanded your friend’s execution, and insisting that he was dead, but now – he’s back. One might get you a couple of hundred pounds and a fish and chip supper, the other might well start a riot and get you killed.

And that’s the extraordinary thing about Jesus’ story. His followers, who ran for their lives when he was arrested and put on trial, suddenly became so convinced he was alive again, they were prepared to die for talking about it.

It’s one thing for a few kooks in the American midwest to claim they’ve seen Elvis, but it's something else entirely when more than 500 people, including his mother and brother, claim to have met and eaten with him regularly over a period of a month; and then be unwilling to revoke their claim even on pain of death.

Perhaps that’s why the original Passion was not so much a movie, as the pilot episode for a series to be continued in the lives of people ever since. It's not just a story in a book written 2,000 years ago – it can be our story, too, for our lives in the world of today.

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About this module

Find out the back story and what happens next in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ movie. What impact did it have on you?

‘The Passion’, for all its intensity, marks only a few hours in the life Jesus. Each of the flashbacks in the movie are windows onto some of the context, that made the execution of one man an event which continues to shape history.

This module was written by Mark Stafford.

Categories: Creativity, Reviews, Sound & vision,


Module contents

arrow The Passion of the Christ

arrow Backstory: caught in adultery

arrow Backstory: the story of Veronica

arrow Backstory: Herod wants a miracle

arrow Backstory: the last supper

arrow Backstory: the humanity of Jesus

arrow Backstory: Jesus and the Devil

arrow What happened next

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