Finally saw The Pizzle of the Chrizzle.

It’s a snuff film.

Mel Gibson is a disturbed man if he can read the New Testament and come away so pissed off. It’s one of the angriest films I’ve ever seen.

And if there’s no antiSemitic “smoking gun,” he still treats that aspect abominably, and the charge of antiSemitism is valid. He knew that he was dealing with something that has for centuries been used as a trigger for antiSemitism, and nothing in his treatment of it suggested that he believes it should ever have been otherwise. Gibson’s Caiaphas was a Bond villain: no depth, all sneering meanness. He was practically stroking a Persian cat and chuckling softly under his breath.

I’m not a religious person, but I certainly understand that the “point” of the Christian gospel is what Jesus died for, not *how * he died.

Now, imagining a Christian perspective, as well as I can, I do agree with Gibson that it’s important for a faithful Christian to really stop and think what Jesus’ death really means. Insofar as the film accomplishes that for its Christian viewers, that’s a good thing. I mean, for those Christians who’ve come to take Jesus’ sacrifice for granted, as it were, I can see the value in this film. There was a sense that he was almost literally taking onto himself all the pain of everyone else, which (benefit of the doubt here) was probably Gibson’s reason for the sheer scale of the physical abuse. But for those audience members who are not the reflective Christians who might take from it a heightened gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice, it’s a horror film. Really, it’s pornographic: a nearly clinical indulgence in torture for its own sake, and not in the service of a plot or a message or anything else. It’s scripted much like your standard porno: a couple minutes of stilted dialogue then nothing but moans, throbbing flesh, and body fluids till the merciful end. It’s a horror porno like the bucket-o-blood movies that were so hilariously parodied in Evil Dead and Dead Alive.

None of the characters had any depth or humanity; not even Jesus. And a director who can fail to make even Jesus a sympathetic character has a real talent for bad films.

And so much of it was just done for cheesy effect and fill-in-the-blanks cliche. That Wizard of Oz ending, and the Buffy shot of satan in the hellmouth, spare me. It was Frank Miller’s Jesus: a Graphic Novel.

For some reason it kind of pissed me off that Gibson ultimately pulled most of his punches. He wanted to *really show * what Jesus’ physical body suffered at the hands of his executioners: he wanted to really make you see, not just take it for granted. But he never went all the way: he’d flash a frame or two of the scourge in the flesh, but then a Roman soldier’s leg would cross the frame and block the view. He threatened at every moment to rub our noses in the real blood of the lamb, and he held the backs of our heads and pushed us down toward the blood, but ultimately he always stopped just short and went, “Just foolin.” He lacked the courage to, finally, really make us see. I almost wish Takashi Miike had directed it: he’d have seen it through, and made something transcendant out of the violence: he’d have accomplished what Mel says he set out to accomplish. (And then he’s got the nerve to keep the loincloth on. Riiiight, two hours of freakish violence is *good; nudity * is still evil. Whatever.)

Worst part? It was only about 20 minutes long, but it was slomo’ed out to two hours.