These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: The Passion of the Christ
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Satan and her evil old man baby, never again referenced. Just Jesus looking out, seeing Satan, and Satan has something in her arms...ahhh-get-it-away-it's-horrible-and-I-have-no-words-to-describe-the-horror. For obvious reasons, Satan's baby has already been referenced under Nightmare Fuel.
According to religious sources, it's supposed to be a Satanic mockery of Mary and Baby Jesus.
Several people watching the movie identified the baby as the Anti-Christ.
Critical Dissonance: Reception to the film was understandably split down the middle by critics due to its subject matter. However, a good portion Christian filmgoers view the film as an excellent adaptation of this part of the New Testament.
While watching this movie, it's too disturbing and depressing to notice this trope. It's darkly comical in hindsight though, just the sheer amount of violence Mel Gibson puts Jesus through.
He is beaten up by Jewish guards, slapped around by the Sanhedrin priests, beaten up by the people in the Temple, scourged so bad by Roman soldiers that his ribs are bared, has a crown of thorns put on his head (and pushed into his eyes), whipped through the streets while carrying a cross, beaten up and pelted with stones by Jewish mobs, and - after they dislocate his arm to fit the cross - he is finally nailed to the cross. It Crosses the Line Twice when the Roman officer orders his men to put the dying Jesus out of his misery by breaking his legs with a sledgehammer.note Though, of course, the Bible says that when the soldiers saw that Jesus was already dead, they didn't break his legs. Some scientists believe that when someone is crucified, breaking their legs would leave them unable to support themselves enough to breathe.
Things are taken even further as the Centurion overseeing the execution tosses a spear to one of the guards for him to pierce Jesus's side just to make sure that he is really dead, and water (from the pericardium) and blood sprays all over the guard's face as the spear pierces Jesus's ribcage. No one can say this film doesn't meet Gorn requirements.
Mis-blamed: The Anti-Semitic claims in particular and certain historical variances. Whatever Gibson's personal views this film is largely no better/no worse then the work it's based on. It enjoyed broad support from Church leaders across denominations precisely because it was felt to be a faithful adaptation, and most support includes the note that they did not feel it promoted anti-Semitism, nor did they think it should have.
Heartwarming Moments: After Jesus is nailed to the cross, the soldiers flip the cross over to make sure the nails are secured from the reverse. At this point, Jesus should be flat on his face - as if everything else he's been through wasn't enough - but, as Magdalene sees (and us from the angle) Jesus is about an inch or so above ground, high enough for him to turn and gaze at her. Something like that is normally impossible without something like, say, divine intervention? Heartwarming to know that, while all the suffering is part of the plan, it could be interpreted as God's sign that he hadn't abandoned Jesus.
Nightmare Fuel: The entire film is this, but Satan and the demon children are especially disturbing.
Older Than They Think: Some Biblical scholars think that the Gospels of Luke and John in particular (partially) try to absolve the Romans of responsibility for the Crucifixion so that Christians would not be considered enemies of the Roman Empire.
Not this movie, though! Check out the smirks and leers on the torturers' faces as they thoroughly enjoy their work. These Romans are so eager to be cruel that you start wondering what they do to keep from getting bored when they don't have Jesus to torture.
Romans hated the Jews with passion, and the Jews returned the honor. This is why the Jewish Revolts ended with such bloodshed, enough to be scary even to people from their age, who were no slouches when it came to death and destruction.
Unfortunate Implications: There were a lot of complaints over how the film depicted Jewish people, making them all look like evil caricatures. And there were other people who complained about how the film glorified the death of Jesus and made that the important part of The Bible, instead of focusing on Jesus' message and/or resurrection.
This may be pointing out the obvious, but wasn't Jesus himself Jewish? As were all of his disciples and his mother, Mary. Mary Magdalene likely was Jewish as well. Also, there's a brief scene where one of the roman soldiers drags a Jewish man (Simon of Cyrene) to help carry the cross. He seems particularly mean with him and there's something about his tone when he calls him "Jew" that indicates he's not very fond of them. Then there is the Jewish priest who helps to take Jesus off the cross, which is a canon event. Considering the things the Roman soldiers do throughout the movie, it's safe to say, if the movie is supposed to be antisemitic, it isn't doing a very good job.
Also many scholars and theologians mention that the leaders who got Jesus prosecuted and executed by the Romans did so hastily just before a major religious event to avoid Jesus' supporters and followers to get their bearings and form up against them. The crowd consisted mostly of their own supporters or people there for a good execution and the rest were mourners who couldn't do anything at this point unless they wanted to challenge Rome, which would NOT have ended well.
This may be just nitpicking but did it really look glorifying? It looked like it was trying to do the opposite and deconstruct the traditional portrayal of Jesus' death. Also, the title IS The Passion of the Christ: it was precisely about that most tragic and horrifying (if still heroic) climax of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Further, Gibson is a Catholic (a Catholic who belongs to a sedevacantistnote A sect that claims that the Holy See became vacant after Pope Pius X/Pius XII/the Second Vatican Council/the institution of Mass in the vernacular/allowing reception of the Eucharist in the hand/Marty Haugen started writing hymns (take your pick, folks...), and that subsequent Popes are somehow antipopes sect, but I digress...). In Catholicism, the sacrifice at Calvary is equally as important as the resurrection, as Catholics believe that the Eucharist IS the body and blood of Christ given us on the Cross.
One complaint from Christians is that the film focuses too much on the crucifixion and not enough on the resurrection. In a very long movie, Christ's return is only given a minute at the very end. This is likely from varying theologies.
Though then again the "Passion of The Christ" in theology is the specific title of Jesus's death and the circumstances surrounding it. So one must wonder why these people complain about the movie focusing on the very thing its about.
Of course some people felt that Gibson had no real interest in the actual message that Jesus Christ was trying to teach people and was more interested in just watching him get the ever living crap beat out of him.