The Passion of the Christ was directed by Mel Gibson and released in 2004. It generated $223,789 on the opening weekend and has since grossed $611,899,420 worldwide. It is the highest grossing non-English film ever created and its popularity is only matched by its controversy. The film depicts the final hours and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The source of controversy is located at the film's almost nonstop graphic violence. Roger Ebert said in his review:
"The movie is 126 minutes long, and I would guess that at least 100 of those minutes, maybe more, are concerned specifically and graphically with the details of the torture and death of Jesus. This is the most violent film I have ever seen."
As a disclaimer: he gave the film four out of four stars.
The reason for dramatizing the event in such a bloody way is to highlight the depth of Christ's goodness. Gibson:
"I wanted it to be shocking; and I wanted it to be extreme ... So that they see the enormity — the enormity of that sacrifice; to see that someone could endure that and still come back with love and forgiveness, even through extreme pain and suffering and ridicule. The actual crucifixion was more violent than what was shown on the film, but I thought no one would get anything out of it."
So the filmmakers argue that an extreme focus on the gore makes Christ look better as a religious figure. Many viewers felt the onslaught of torture blotted out any rational acceptance of the message:
"'The Passion of the Christ' is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of Jesus' final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it."
-- New York Times
In a nutshell: fundamental Christians and people with financial stakes in the film argue that blood and guts makes Christ look like a wholesome and altruistic figure. People who take the film as an historical drama rather than a sermon see it has gratuitous and indulgent.
I fit in the second category. I think if I were a Christian I would rather have the story told in an accessible manner. For example, World War II contained much more carnage and many more atrocities, but people can learn about it through films that have a "normal" amount of violence.