The violence is not only heavy-handed, it is unrealistic. I know this because I have been crucified myself. An enactment ritual has existed in the Philippines since 1961, and in August 2000 I was the first westerner to take part.
When I got back from The Passion of the Christ, I decided to watch the 15-minute film of my crucifixion, shot by Sarah Lucas, for the first time in more than a year. I saw myself lying down on my cross, holding out my hands, first one, then the other, to a Filipino I had never met, who bathed them in alcohol before pressing his thumb down in the centre of the palm, feeling again for the right point of entry. My arms were strapped to the bars with two ribbons of cloth on each side – presumably to prevent me from jerking them away, from tearing the nails loose. My feet were supported on a small platform of wood.