How ironic that when a movie producer takes artistic license with historical events he is lionized as artistic, creative and brilliant, but when another takes special care to be true to the real-life story, he is vilified.
Actor/producer Mel Gibson is discovering these truths the hard way as he is having difficulty finding a United States studio or distributor for his upcoming film, "The Passion," which depicts the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ. Gibson co-wrote the script and financed, directed and produced the movie.
For the script, he and his co-author relied on the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as the diaries of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) and Mary of Agreda's The City of God.
Gibson doesn't want this to be like other "sterilized religious epic(s). I'm trying to access the story on a very personal level and trying to be very real about it." So committed to realistically portraying what many would consider the most important half-day in the history of the universe, Gibson even shot the film in the Aramaic language of the period. In response to objections that viewers will not be able to understand that language, Gibson said, "Hopefully, I'll be able to transcend the language barriers with my visual storytelling; if I fail, I fail, but at least it'll be a monumental failure."
To further ensure the accuracy of the work, Gibson has enlisted the counsel of pastors and theologians, and has received rave reviews. Don Hodel, president of Focus on the Family, said, "I was very impressed. The movie is historically and theologically accurate." Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., and president of the National Evangelical Association glowed, "It conveys, more accurately than any other film, who Jesus was."
During the filming, Gibson, a devout Catholic, attended Mass every morning because "we had to be squeaky clean just working on this." From Gibson's perspective, this movie is not about Mel Gibson. It's bigger than he is.
"I'm not a preacher, and I'm not a pastor," he said. "But I really feel my career was leading me to make this. The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic. I hope the film has the power to evangelize."