When The Passion of the Christ was released on DVD several years ago, I didn’t buy it, opting instead to wait for the strongly-rumored special edition release to come. Here we are almost three years later, and no such release is being discussed. The funny thing is, The Big Question is essentially an extra for that non-existent DVD package. This documentary, which discusses questions of faith, was shot on the set of The Passion of the Christ, amongst the actors and artisans that were gathered from all parts of the planet for the production. This is a wonderful idea, and it makes for a great documentary featurette to support the film, but I just don’t feel that there is enough here for a stand-alone release.
Various people from various cultural and religious backgrounds were asked the same set of questions about who God is and how He (or She, as the film asks) relates to us, and us to Him. The resulting comments serve as something of a glorified “man on the street” view of religion. While there were some religious scholars included, the end result is a muddled collection of opinions that really don’t go very far toward answering many of the questions raised by the film’s directors.
The audio track is basically good, though I wouldn’t call it “feature worthy”. The track is in stereo, and the dialog is mostly clear, but some of the interview subjects have voices that are on the deeper end of the spectrum, which is where the subwoofer unexpectedly kicks in. I feel that this track would actually have been more powerful without the benefit of a subwoofer track, as the content itself would have been more easily conveyed. Barring these few deep voiced individuals, the audio gets the job done, complete with easy to read subtitles for those subjects that speak languages other than English.
The problem with the video on this documentary is not that same predictable problem that plagues most documentaries. Usually, documentary features either include copious amounts of existing stock footage, or they are shot live on location and are at the mercy of the ambient lighting available on the scene. This film, however, was shot with the benefit of high quality film cameras and lighting. While the images are beautifully framed and carefully shot, the problem here is with color and brightness. Put simply, the images in this film are much too red, and sometimes too dark to show sufficient details. The real issue, though is the strong skew to red. The images are so overly warm that skin, clothing, walls, floors… almost everything in the image picks up red hues. While the thought behind this decision was clearly to make the images look more rich, its execution is really quite dreadful.
The only extra on this disc (which is essentially an extra in itself) is a theatrical trailer. I admit, the trailer is very well put together, and it really did make me want to watch the film, but that’s it. I would have liked to have seen some outtakes or deleted scenes included on the disc, as I am certain that they exist.
For me, this release amounts to nothing more than a good idea halfway executed. I have to think that at some point down the road, The Passion of the Christ will be released in a Special Edition, and this documentary will make an excellent addition to that package. On its own, however, there just doesn’t seem to be enough here to warrant a separate release.