Keep you eyes on the crucifix, for Jesus without a cross is a man without a mission, and the cross without Jesus is a burden without a reliever.
A crucifix can never depict the full horrors of the crucifixion. I'm not sure anyone would claim even the horrors of the Grunewald crucifixion (below) were realistic.
Any image of Christ on the cross transfigures the horrors of the event it depicts. This is particularly true of those images where Christ wears priestly robes and his arms are simply outstretched rather than succumbing to gravity. The modern looking "Christ the King" crucifix shown below is actually the famous 8th century Lucca crucifix.
A crucifixion scene shows new life, not death, shows hope not despair. The 5th century image below appeals to me greatly in its simplicity, it shows Judas on the left and Christ on the right: despair and hope.
Over the coming weeks I will probably post some more ramblings on this theme. They will not be an art critic's musings or a historian's musings, I am not that learned. I will just be writing about what I see and what fills me with inspiration.
To date I much acknowledge 2 websites that have been most illuminating on this topic:
Augusta State University