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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Leave Mel Gibson alone

Mel Gibson is one of Hollywood’s finest intellects and greatest men.

The Passion of the Christ, the film he co-wrote, produced and directed in 2004, was the eighth highest-earning film in all history and the highest-earning rated R film of all time.

Mel Gibson was one of the only five actors in the history of Hollywood to win Best Director Oscars. He did so for Braveheart in 1995. That film was nominated for ten awards (including Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound). It was a triumph and the film won five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, and Best Sound Effects.

The accusations of anti-Semitism for the magnificent The Passion of the Christ, one of the most beautiful Hollywood films ever made, are totally unfounded and are more a sign of the bigotry of some people and of the constant paranoia surrounding the topic than anything else.

Gibson simply retold in a supremely cinematographically crafted way the story of the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus, as found in the Gospels.

This ludicrous controversy, another case of political correctness gone mad, arises from a scene which is not even in the film, the scene in which the Jewish high priest Caiaphas coaxes the unwilling Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea, into executing Jesus.

When finally Pilate, exasperated, gives up and condemns the prisoner, according to the Gospel of Matthew he first shows his own lack of guilt by publicly washing his hands. The crowd then shouts: “His blood be on us, and on our children.”

This passage is one of the sources of the idea of collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus.

But Gibson was so eager to appease Jews that he not only did not shoot the scene as told by Saint Matthew, he even removed it altogether.

At first he filmed Caiaphas alone calling the curse down. But then Gibson’s editor, Wright, was strongly opposed to including even that version, saying: “I just think you're asking for trouble if you leave it in. For people who are undecided about the film, that would be the thing that turned them against it.”

Gibson followed that advice, but regretfully. “I wanted it in,” he says. “My brother said I was wimping out if I didn't include it. It happened; it was said. But, man, if I included that in there, they'd be coming after me at my house, they'd come kill me.”
He apparently meant organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, as well as certain academics.

Anyway, the whole thing is ridiculous: if this passage was in the Gospel, and the film story was the one told there, it should not have caused offence to anyone. After all, it is a Jewish crowd of the time of Jesus whose guilt we are discussing, not all Jews. It is very likely that for the Jews of Ancient Testament times, Jesus, with His extremely revolutionary ideas (so revolutionary and pioneering that we find them difficult to put into practice even 2,000 years later) did represent a threat.

I think it’s disgraceful that Gibson could not leave the original Gospel scene in the film. Have we got to the point that the Gospels have to be censored by the politically correct thought police? In Muslim countries they have the moral police; we in the West have the political police.

You can assess how strong the Jewish lobby is, if you look at this incident, involving one of those rare works of art in Hollywood cinema which was also totally innocent of the accusations, and you compare it with, for instance, the publication of the nonsensical The Da Vinci Code book and film.


At 7:05 AM, Blogger Tammie's Thoughts said...



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