Mel Gibson's "The Passion" controversy

Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” is stirring controversy, eevn before it is released. Anybody see it yet? Wonder how it will play in Taiwan, when it gets there, 25 years from now… with subtitiles.

Seems Mel has spent 25 mil of his own money to bankroll the film, which tells the last days of some bloke who is said to be responsible for starting some new religion. Trouble is, Mel won’t show the film in previews to anyone who is against his POV, and that includes progressive Christians of all stripes and a few Jewish film reviewers here and there, too.

Apparently, Mel is a bit wacko when it comes to his interpretation of the Roman Catholic TRUTH and that is what has some critics worried.

Me, I think Mad Mel, er Mad Max, is a visionary and should be allowed to get his day in court. It’s his film, his money. Even Matt Drude, who is Jewish, was allowed to see the film and Matt said it is a great powerful film that makes grown men and women cry, so powerful and dramatic is it.

Will this be Mel’s swan song? Or his Ishtar? Or his Waterworld? Or his Last Temptation of Hollywood…

He’ll probably need to make another Lethal Weapon just to cover the losses… oh, pity us. :cry:

Commentary on “The Passion” and it’s critics by David Horowitz.*

Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion, which is about the last twelve hours of Christ’s life is the object of campaign villification and book burning by a committee of Christians and Jews who want to shut it down before it is shown, or edit it to their own politically (or religiously) correct standards. Paula Fredriksen is a spokesman for this committee. The New Republic has shamed itself by printing her ill-informed and bigoted attack on the film.

Unlike Fredriksen and others who want to destroy film before they have seen it, I have. It is not an attempt to portray the historical Jesus – which is the subject of Fredriksen’s entire screed – nor could it be. By Fredriksen’s own account there is no evidentiary basis for such a portrait and if anyone tried to create one it would be eviscerated by the same Savanarolas, precisely because no one can know what the truth is.

Gibson’s film is an artistic vision and must be judged that way. Like others who have seen the film, I am sworn to keep details confidential so that it gets its chance when the distributors present it to the viewing public next Easter. However, I will say this: It is an awesome artifact, an overpowering work. I can’t remember being so affected by a film before. It is extremely painful to watch and yet the violence is never gratuitous. You never feel like you want to take your eyes off the screen. It is a wracking emotional journey which never strays from its inspirational purpose. It is as close to a religious experience as art can get.

It is not anti-Semitic, as the film-burners have charged. Two illustrative details: Jesus is referred to in the film as “rabbi,” and there is never any distancing of Jesus or his disciples from their Jewishness. (One point missed by ignorant bigots like Fredericksen whose only familiarity with The Passion is with a stolen script) is that while the film is in Aramaic – a brilliant effect that enhances the symbolic resonance of the story – it has subtitles. Second detail: A Jew carries Jesus’ cross along the terrible route to Golgotha and shares his miseries. But yes the film is also faithful to the Gospels and therefore the Pharisees are Jesus’ enemies and they and their flock do call for Jesus’ death (and why wouldn’t they since Jesus was a threat to their authority and their beliefs?).

But all this is to miss the point. This is a Christian parable. The cruelty, intolerance and lack of compassion of human beings is limitless – and we who have lived through the Twentieth Century know this all too well. The moral of this Christian story – of Mel Gibson’s film – is that we all killed Jesus – Jew and Gentile alike – and tortured him, and we do so every day. But if you believe the vision that Gibson has rendered so searingly and so well, Jesus forgives us for that very act. Whosoever will give up cruelty and love his brother will enter paradise. That is the message that Gibson has framed in his extraordinary work. The effort to shut down his film before it opens is just another station of the cross.

[i]*David Horowitzis a nationally known author and lifelong civil rights activist. He was one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s and editor of its largest magazine, Ramparts. In the 1970s he created the Oakland Community Learning Center, an inner city school for disadvantaged children that was run by the Black Panther Party. In the 1990s he created the Individual Rights Foundation, which led the battle against speech codes on college campuses, and compelled the entire

And you can see the trailer here:

Is this movie any more “controversial” than Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ? Monty Python’s Life of Brian?

Soddom wrote: “Is this movie any more “controversial” than Scorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ? Monty Python’s Life of Brian?”

Yes, Soddom, way more. Those films were art house and comedy films, and there was little real controversy. This Gibson film is way controversial, like, the MOST controversial Jesus film ever made.

Do a google search under its title and Gibson’s name and you will see. When it is finally released in the spring of 2004, expect huge fireworks in the West, nothing in the East (who cares about Jesus there?)

It’s controversial because it interprets Jesus life and death in a very narrow sectarian way that has got some Christians (and a few Jews too) whipped up into a frenzy.

See the New Republic magazine’s Paula Fredericksen’s recent attack.

Others are saying it is a powerful moving touching WOW kind of film experience.

It’s not the usual Jewish-Christian controversy. It’s a new kind of Christian-Christian, ie, Xian versus Xian, controversy and Gibson might lose his entire global reputation over this, or gain a new one.

Weird. Who cares?

Obviously, quite a few people do. Me, give me Mad Max anytime over Jesus’s Passion. The New Testamento is pure poppycock, and entire Jesus story is nothing but pure supernatural superstition layer over layer, just like the earlier Bible stories of Moses and Abraham. Sometimes I hate living in the West, being a Westerner, having inherited by accidental birth place, these mindbogglingly silly religion myths of gods and messiahs. Almost makes me want to become a Taoist and just worship 8,000 gods instead.

But that’s hogwash too.

Anyway, see the movie. Write a review later. … 201183.htm

After watching the short I can’t see the big deal.

Formosa, I don’t know how you can say Teh Last Temptation of Christ wasn’t controversial. I remember crowds of Christians who had never seen the movie calling for it to be pulled from theaters, blocking theater entrances and urging people to avoid watching it. Why? Because they felt it was blasphemous to suggest that Jesus might have had doubts that his mother was a virgin, his father was not his father, and he was actually THE son of God on a mission to have himself killed to save mankind.

For crisake, even religious fanatics feel that Jesus was half human – that he came out of his mother’s womb. And we all know that virgins don’t have babies. There are thousands who are locked in asylums because each of them hears voices and believes, without any doubt, that He is the son of God. If there really were a Jesus whose mother was a virgin and father was God, wouldn’t it make sense for him to question even briefly whether that was really true? That’s all the movie was saying, and that’s what drove Christians into a rabid fit way back then.

I didn’t think Last Temptation was great, though I really like the Peter Gabriel soundtrack. But I think it was an admirable attempt to paint a realistic picture of a story that is usually told only in an ancient book in archaic language. I appreciated examining the story from a new, modern perspective. I think I’d probably feel the same way about Mel’s movie.

Incidentally, a couple of better re-tellings of bible stories can be found in Pricksongs & Descants, a terrific collection of stories by Robert Coover, that includes the story of Jesus as told by Joseph (OK, the baby’s not mine, but you expect me to believe that god is the father?) and Noah’s Ark as told by Noah’s brother (sure he’s a crazy bastard, but he’s my brother so I have to help him). This 1969 book of experimental fiction is terrific, as Coover describes the familiar in interesting new ways.

Well, according to this guy named Cal Thomas, a conservative rightwing born again Xian in the USA, “The Passion” exceeds them all.

The film is extremely bloody. The scourging scene seems to last forever. The crucifixion is unbelievably horrible. In other words, Mel pulled no punches.

Mel Gibson is a strong Catholic and wanted to do a film that presented Jesus Christ in a credible way. He has done so and then some.

Some critics worry that the film is anti-Semitic. It is not. It is faithful to the biblical account. Something else: no one murdered Jesus. He said he had the power to lay his life down and the power to take it up again. He came into the world for this purpose.

Something I don’t get. If nobody murdered Jesus, as this writer claims, then why did the Church spend 2000 years blaming the Jews? And this: if Jesus had the power to lay his life down, almost like a scripted script written by hollywood, then isn’t the entire Jesus story silly?

I mean, if this Jesus story originated in Asia, it would have been laughed out of the world by now. So does it remain so powerful in the West? Brainwashing? Mind control? Inherited beliefs?

Well, I want to see the film now. As you can see from LINKS below, it is really gathering media steam. I expect the Taipei Times will run feature story on this soon. Watch!

“The Passion” Exceeds Expectation - 1 hour ago
A few days ago I was invited to a private screening of Mel Gibson’s new film, “The
Passion.” It is about the last twelve hours of the earthly life of Jesus. …
’ THE PASSION ’ - Baltimore Sun
Sacredheart: unholy row surrounds Mel Gibson’s latest epic - Sydney Morning Herald
Bloodthirsty or a classic? Gibson’s film of Christ’s last days … - Guardian

Okay, and now the TAIWAN connection. David Kuo is Taiwanese.

"He is showing a rough cut of the film to selected evangelicals, religious leaders, pundits and politicians, including David Kuo, of the White House’s faith-based initiatives. They signed confidentiality agreements before the screening. "

Wow, and now they say Mel is a draft dodger kind of guy:

A guest from one of the Jewish groups finally got a chance to see the film and he said the movie might not be a good thing for all concerned. It’s kinda sad that after all these years, 2000 or so, the Jews and the Christians still can’t agree on much, one group being stuck in the past (the Jews) and the other group being stuck in the future (the Christians) – the past promises of an ancient imaginary desert god called Yawyeh, and the future promises of heavenly reward of an ancient imaginary godson called Messiah Boy.

The result is a clash of well-intentioned people on both sides, but with no solution in sight. My advice is to see the film, cross yourself as you come out, drink a bottle of Maneshevitz wine with a bowl of gefilte fish afterwards and then take a dip in the sauna with your honey, whoever he or she is.

Because…after Gibson’s film debuts…for sure, it’s gonna be the end of the world.

While I’m quite content avoiding the hoopla on Mel’s Jesus shock movie thing I have to say that Mother T makes good sense on how controversial The Last Temptation of Christ was at the time. People were picketting cinemas and all manner of madness.

But c’mon. I know this isn’t your idea, yet please: Formosa:

[quote]Wow, and now they say Mel is a draft dodger kind of guy:

Hakkasonic, what makes Mel run? Born in the US, his family emigrated to Australia in 1968 when Gibson’s father feared his elder sons might be drafted for Vietnam. Mel was 12 – too young to serve but old enough to know what was going on. It may have been lingering draft-dodger guilt that induced him, 34 years later, to give himself the lead as Lt-Col Hal Moore (ruthless killer of many Viet Cong) in We Were Heroes.

And this commentary from a writer in India, Mumbai, of all places:

Who killed Jesus?
by Uday Benegal
August 10, 2003

The Jews did, according to Mel Gibson, actor, director, producer and object of machismo and lustworthiness to multitudinous members of the smarter sex (and possibly the dumber one, too).

Sorry, ladies, looks like your fantasy’s a nut job. Less known than his numerous characters on the movie screen that include cop, freedom fighter, futuristic armageddon man, et al., is his personal role in a splinter group of the Catholic faith that snubs the Pope.

The church of his belief opted out of conventional Catholicism, rejecting the papacy when, in 1965, the Second Vatican Council reversed its stand on the role of the Jews in Jesus

It’s no surprise that this film is anti-semitic in showing the Jews killing Jesus. Mel seems to have a thing against religious groups. In 'Braveheart ’ he showed the Christian English killing William Wallace, and way back in ‘Gallipolli’ he showed the Muslim Turks killing the Anzacs.


[quote=“Sir Donald Bradman”]and way back in ‘Gallipolli’ he showed the Muslim Turks killing the Anzacs.


Damn! Everyone knows it was Swiss Mormons killing the Anzacs at Gallipolli. What’s Gibson trying to do???

Here’s a good quote from one of the commentaries on this film:

[quote]It should be noted that to Jews of the first century, Jesus of Nazareth was simply another false messiah, one of hundreds – a Galilean village preacher with a ragtag following of Jewish fishermen who, in various statements, claimed to be the Jewish messiah, God’s son and the Jewish king all wrapped into one. The traditional Jewish messiah, however, would not be a deity, but a bellicose homo sapiens, with a hankering to lead an uprising against the Romans, perhaps someone with the stature and nobility of Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. To claim you were the messiah but that you were unconcerned with this world was absurd. Likewise, to preach that you were God’s son was the supreme blasphemy, as well as the ultimate absurdity. God had no son, and whoever uttered such absurdities sealed his own doom.

So who was to blame for the execution of Jesus of Nazareth? The Jews? The Romans? Jesus himself?

Christians who believe Jesus died for their individual sins are logically themselves responsible for his death, and have no cause to scapegoat “The Jews.”[/quote]

and in conclusion:

read the entire thing at:

free registration after viewing advert"

By someone who hasn’t seen the film. You know what? I think I’ll see the film and decide for myself. Gee. What a concept. :unamused:

Yes, of course, blueface666, everyone should see the film and have their own opinion of it as a movie, as a document of our times and as a true or nor true account of the life of Brian, I mean, Jesus.

i hope that all this shite in the media doesnt stop the film from coming out. we should at least be allowed to see it. and then form our own opinions.

My guess is that it is great cinema, great acting, great pathos and tragedy. But i also wonder why Mel wanted make this movie with his own money and for what reason? He is known to be a wacky Christian, on the extreme right of the Catholic Church. That’s the real drama here.

I guess we will just have to wait. Wonder if it will ever come to Taiwan.

On the topic of controversial interpretations of the last days of the messiah, we should mention Jesus Christ Superstar, which besides being a very cool and thoroughly entertaining rock-opera, offered its own twisted view of the whole Passion thing. Not old enough to remember whether there was much controversy when it came out.

I really liked the idea of making Judas a central character, Jesus’s right hand man and voice of reason, who comes across as a martyr himself, betraying his friend out of a sense of responsibility. Jesus didn’t have an identity crisis, he pretty much new that God was talking to him and what the grand plan was, but he wasn’t so sure that he really wanted to go through with it.

Anyway, I highly recommend it, surely loads more fun than watching Mel’s very bloody Jesus for 2 hours. Incredible mesmerizing music by Weber, and Tim Rice lyrics at their best (the following are all Judas’s):

It’s taken me some time
To figure out what to do
I weighed the whole thing out
Before I came to you

Had no thought at all
About my own reward,
Didn’t really come here
On my own accord

Just don’t say I’m … Damned for all time …

You’d have managed better
If you’d had it planned
Now why’d you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?

If you’d come today
You could have reached a whole nation
Isreal in 4 BC
Had no mass communication

ps: what can I say, I like my revisionist Biblical pop art better when it rhymes

Yes, I’m still recovering from Braveheart. He doesn’t seem to have realised that there are ways to imply blood, guts and suffering without plastering them over the screen for twenty minutes.

He made a jolly good job of Hamlet, though.