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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Passion


Starring: Joseph Mawle, James Nesbitt and Ben Daniels
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 16 March 2009

First shown on BBC One during Holy Week in 2008, this account of the last days of Jesus Christ presents a new interpretation on the story and the profound impact the lead up to the crucifixion had on the lives of those around him. Set in Jerusalem in 33AD as thousands of pilgrims enter the city to celebrate Passover, tensions between Jewish religious authorities and the Romans are running high. A preacher from Galilee is about to enter the city's East Gate riding a donkey, which promises to fulfill two of the most powerful religious prophecies on the coming of a Messiah. The events of the next few days will resonate through the next 2,000 years...

The Passion is an impressive drama that is based around the last days of Christ. Unlike previous attempts to bring the story to life, Frank Deasy's script leaves it for the viewer to decide whether this is the son of God, or a mad man who thinks he's the saviour of mankind. Although the final episode sort of makes it impossible to think anything other than the tale is true.

Even his disciples are left questioning whether Jesus is for real. There are subtle glances between them here and there which make the viewer question whether they actually are starting to think he's a bit of a nutter.

Deasy's writing takes the story and, while setting it in the correct time period, shies away from the mythical rubbish that has materialised over time around the story. What we end up with is a story that could have happened yesterday.

Peter's denial of Jesus three times before the cock crows is handled well too. Peter's denial is understandable and a very real response to a young woman's enquiry - the very quiet crowing of a cockerel in the background is also introduced well. In less capable hands we could have been slapped around the face with this scene.

Equally, Judas's betrayal is believable. Judas is a much more sympathetic character here and it's obvious he really has no choice. The writing also makes it more understandable as to why he takes his own life when he realises what he has done.

And, when Jesus is crucified, at first it's left for the viewer to question whether Joseph of Arimathea was responsible for taking Jesus's body to make it appear as though he'd risen from the grave.

Extras include The Making of the Passion (45 min, 07 sec collection of featurettes that can be played as a single feature or broken up into individual featurettes that look at the characters, the production, the crucifixion, resurrection, the language and filming in Morocco); text based The Passion and its Historical Context; Cast Filmographies and a Photo Gallery.

Whether you are a religious believer or atheist, this drama is still compelling viewing.


Darren Rea

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