From my friend Bill Park, a scholar of film and literature—before moving out here to California, Bill taught English for many years at Sarah Lawrence—an assessment of Mel Gibson’s film:
“[S]hould the flagellation be alluded to, the results shown, but the actual whipping and gouging removed from view? The Greeks never exhibited such sights; the Elizabethans delighted in them. Our own age favors the Elizabethans. Ever since the Production Code was abandoned in 1967, the aesthetic of Hollywood has favored sensationalism, blood spattering and explosions as a kind of ballet of gore. Gibson has merely applied the aesthetic of Peckinpah and Tarantino to the Gospels….
” There is much to be said for making us sinners feel the sacrifice of Christ so that we may become more thankful….But…by limiting the film to this one aspect of Christ’s life on earth, and dwelling I think excessively on the torture and suffering, despite the flashbacks, which offer momentary relief from the sadism, the film evokes but one emotion—horror or pain. There’s no catharsis, and one is left at the end not edified but numb.”