Okay, Hear Me Out
I love movies, and I love television. More than that, I love exploring the medium, finding similarities throughout different genres, making connections between different types of stories. I have always considered this blog a film review site seen through the LENS of drinking games. The games are important, but the movies are the focus.
That being said, somehow, some way, this movie ended up on my list, and against all odds I picked it out of my magic hat. Now, I remember being very young when this movie came out, and knowing nothing about it except that people could NOT stop talking about it. If you were an adult and you had not seen this movie, you weren't worth talking to about films at all. I've heard several people who were grown at the time praise it as a worthwhile piece of cinema. I know very few people who ENJOYED watching it.
I almost chickened out. Making a drinking game for "The Passion of the Christ"? No. No way. Who would want that? Certainly not me. Nobody's going to want to play it with me. And it's not in very good taste. And what if nobody reads the article? Isn't that the point?
And then I thought, what the hell. At least it'll make a great story. That's what's important.
And by God, it did.
"The Inebriation of the Christ": The Rules
But really, drink anything red. Vodka cranberries. Shirley Temples. Strawberry Cosmos. Red wine. The color really matters more than the actual drink, just as long as you don't mind drinking a lot of it.
1. Drink for Title Drops ("Passion of the Christ")
2. Drink for Daddy Issues. We're talking the Big Daddy here.
3. Drink when they drink.
4. Drink for flashbacks.
5. Drink every time blood is mentioned.
All of the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for Title Drops. Whenever they say "Christ".
2. Drink for scenes that occur in slow motion. If a scene snaps back into real time, then returns to slow motion, drink again.
All of the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when somebody laughs
2. Drink when blood is drawn.
And, a bonus rule for all difficulty levels:
Finish your drink during the "39 Lashes" scene. You may take the entire scene to do so, but you must be done with your drink before they move on.
Some Guy: He kinda wandered in, and instantly regretted it.
Let's get this show on the road. Here's the controversial film of ten years ago, Passion of the Christ!
Our Own Personal Gethsemane
I'm really glad we had Daku there, as somebody who is familiar with biblical text. It was difficult sifting through this movie and determining what was true to the source material and what was added in by good ol' Mel. When you seperate those two scenes into categories, it reveals a lot about both the story of the Crucifixion and about Mel Gibson's vision.
For example, the movie begins with Jesus in Gethsemane, talking to God and asking him if his path can be changed, if he really has to die. We notice immediately that the movie is shot very realistically; Jesus is kept in the dark, his surroundings are lush but hidden by natural darkness, and there is little to no added music or background noise to lead us towards any particular way to feel. Jesus is even speaking in ancient Aramaic, as does every body throughout the course of the film, and the subtitles are pretty strict adaptations of biblical verse.
Motifically, Gibson seems to be interested in juxtaposed images of pain and enjoyment. From the very beginning of the movie, whenever we see a character suffering, whether it's Jesus, Judas, Pilate, or any other man of the cloth, there's some character standing by either laughing his face off (drink!) or sadistically sneering. Whenever he can, Gibson uses the reality of the text to pull this off; the Pharasees, the Roman guards, and Jesus' fellow prisoners that night erupt into strains of laughter at points that at least feel accurate. However, when Gibson diverges from the source material, he almost always makes the choice to add pain into the scene instead of something, anything else.
In the Bible, after Jesus' betrayal at the hand of Judas, Judas was immediately overcome with such grief and passion that, after going to Caiaphus and attempting to return the money he earned for the act (which, spoiler alert, doesn't work), he finds the nearest tree and hangs himself. In the movie, first he's tormented by a gaggle of children possessed by the soul of Satan, who throw stones at him, call him cursed, twist shape in front of him and generally drive him insane. After they finally go away, Judas happens upon a decaying donkey corpse. THEN he kills himself. The scenes leading up to his death take 20 minutes. The death itself takes ten seconds, if that.
"For Fuck's sake, Mel," Big Moose shouted, "Give us a couple of seconds."
He has a point; a major character has ended his arc, and the movie gives it almost no weight, while at the same time ensuring that the moments we do get with this character are brutal. We don't see any of the emotions that led Judas to hang himself. We don't get any sense of redemption from the character. And unfortunately, this isn't an unusual occurance.
The Real Problem
There is not a single character who does not get skewered at the hands of Gibson's direction. Peter, Judas, Pilate...they get skewered about as badly as Jesus's hands to his crucifix.
Unfortunately, this message only really hits home if you know the story, and know it well.
"As an athiest," Big Moose said, "I feel like I'm not told why Jesus is good. I'm just told that he is, and expected to understand that." We don't really get any sense of Jesus being an influential man, or of people loving him, until we watch him carry his crucifix through a wailing crowd of followers. By this point in the movie, we're so emotionally exhausted by the previous events that we can't identify with this grief-stricken crowd. It's our emotional hollowness that makes the last thirty minutes of the movie nearly unbearable.
The Worst Part?
I realized with a sinking feeling that I wasn't sure.
I played this game on hard mode, and I did not even have my first drink finished by the midway point. Big Moose was drinking beer and taking bigger gulps than me, but he wasn't faring much better. And for a movie like this, the game needs to be much harder than it is in its current form.
Let's take my new "finish your drink" rule. I needed to make this rule, because otherwise we all would have passed out during the 39 lashes scene. Blood gets drawn, people laugh, there's a bunch of slow motion, and there's a small portion of daddy issues. For 15 minutes straight.
Yeah. That's right. I thought Jesus only got whipped 39 times. No, turns out it was 39 times WITH EACH WHIP THEY HAD AT THEIR DISPOSAL. Don't believe me? Here's the clip below. Let me know how far you get before wanting to puke.
Most of the heavy drinking doesn't come into play until the second half of the movie, and by that time you're so depressed that it's not much fun to keep playing. I think at one point, we just stopped following the rules and drank whenever we felt like it.
Some Guy had to step out halfway through to smoke a cigarette.
"Do you want us to pause the movie for you?" we asked.
"NO," he replied, and left.
I can't even imagine watching this movie in theaters with a packed house of emotionally distraught Christians. It was hard enough watching it alone in the light of day. So how did we manage to make it through?
Judge us if you want, call us sick, call us crazy, but making jokes at this movie's expense was the only way we managed to survive. We read aloud the subtitles using funny voices (my favorite was using a broad Scottish accent for Pilate), we voiced aloud unspoken thoughts by silent background characters, we sang "Hey, Jude" while Judas betrayed Christ. We looked up the New York Times review of the movie and read aloud our favorite lines. Such as:
"The paradox of wishing something horrible to stop even as you want it to continue has as much to do with moviegoing as with theology. And Mr. Gibson, either guilelessly or ingeniously, has exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what he and his allies see as a higher end." -A. O. Scott
"I'm just going to go sit in the corner and deal with myself," said Some Guy when the movie finally ended. We let him do so. We understood.
That said, the game is much too easy. Here are some extra rules to beef it up.
Drink whenever Satan shows up.
Androgynous Satanic Figure shows up every twenty minutes or so to wreck havoc. Banish him/her to darkness with a good swig of your drink.
Drink whenever an iconic biblical scene happens.
I intended to put this on the list, but struck the rule last minute because I thought it would be too difficult. Boy, I wish I hadn't done that. Peter's Denial, Judas' Betrayal, Herod's Interview, all of these scenes and more get a drink! Instantly a more playable game.
Drink whenever a character makes a face that mirrors how you feel.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). Video footage is taken by Pooh Daddy (Vincent Graham) and edited by Seb (Amy Yourd). All "Passion of the Christ" images are owned by Icon Productions, New Market films and 20th Century Fox.