Kathryn — my husband and I took both our daughters, aged fifteen and nine, to see The Passion of the Christ the first weekend it was out. Taking Anne, the younger, was my husband’s idea and at first I was very much against the idea. However, it turned out that he was right. She took away from the movie as much as a nine-year-old could, without being at all traumatized by it. I think at that age, it strkes them more as iconography than reality. At least, Anne was much more concerned about some of the abstract ideas than about the physical reality of all the blood. The images that interested her the most, which she wanted to talk about later, were the snake in the garden, Satan’s baby, and the tear that fell from heaven and rent the temple veil.
Also, at her age she has not really suffered any intense physical pain, and so probably translated what she saw Christ suffer to her own knowledge of suffering. (I myself, although I kept my eyes on every moment of the scourging, only had one gasp-out-loud moment: when the Roman soldier separates Jesus’s shoulder to get him to fit on the cross. Probably because I have never been scourged, but I have dislocated my shoulder, and I knew exactly what it felt like.)