Skip to comments.Mel Gibson tackles addiction, recovery and the controversies over new film
Posted on 02/16/2004 1:37:39 PM PST by Hal1950
At "the height of spiritual bankruptcy" more than a decade ago, abusing alcohol and drugs, the actor Mel Gibson said he once contemplated hurling himself out a window. But instead, he turned to the Bible, which ultimately inspired him to direct his new movie, The Passion of the Christ.
"I think I just hit my knees," Gibson told Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview on ABCNEWS' Primetime. "I just said, 'Help.' You know? And then, I began to meditate on it, and that's in the Gospel. I read all those again. I remember reading bits of them when I was younger."
"Pain is the precursor to change, which is great," Gibson said. "That's the good news."
Gibson's renewed faith will be on display for moviegoers to see starting Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday, when The Passion, depicting the final 12 hours of Jesus' life, debuts in theaters.
But in the months leading up to its release, the Aramaic- and Latin-language project has sparked controversy, which Gibson discussed with Sawyer on the special Monday-night edition of Primetime.
Religious leaders and critics are debating whether the film's dramatization of Jesus' crucifixion is excessively violent and whether the depiction of the Jewish role in Jesus' death could incite anti-Semitic sentiments.
Blaming the Messenger?
Gibson insisted on Primetime he is no anti-Semite, and that anti-Semitism is "un-Christian" and a sin that "goes against the tenets of my faith."
When asked who killed Jesus, Gibson said, "The big answer is, we all did. I'll be the first in the culpability stakes here."
Gibson told Sawyer he simply tried his best to interpret the Gospels in The Passion of the Christ.
"Critics who have a problem with me don't really have a problem with me in this film," Gibson said. "They have a problem with the four Gospels. That's where their problem is."
Asked whether it was the Jews who killed Jesus, Gibson noted Jesus, "was a child of Israel, among other children of Israel. There were Jews and Romans in Israel. There were no Norwegians there. The Jewish Sanhedrin, and those who they held sway over and the Romans were the material agents of his demise."
'Potential to Fuel Anti-Semitism'
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told Sawyer in remarks broadcast along with Gibson's interview that he doesn't believe Gibson is anti-Semitic. But Foxman still has concerns about The Passion of the Christ.
"I do not believe it's an anti-Semitic movie," Foxman said. "I believe that this movie has the potential to fuel anti-Semitism, to reinforce it."
"This is his vision, his faith; he's a true believer, and I respect that," Foxman said. "But there are times that there are unintended consequences."
Gibson raised hackles recently with published statements in which he noted Holocaust victims were among many victims of World War II. He told Sawyer he doesn't mean to deny either that the Holocaust occurred or that there were millions killed.
"Do I believe that there were concentration camps where defenseless and innocent Jews died cruelly under the Nazi regime? Of course I do; absolutely," he said. "It was an atrocity of monumental proportion."
Asked if the Holocaust represented a "particular kind of evil," he told Sawyer it did, but added, "Why do you need me to tell you? It's like, it's obvious. They're killed because of who and what they are. Is that not evil enough?"
Gibson added that there also are other examples of genocide.
"The Turks murdered half of the Armenians in ethnic cleansing," he told Sawyer. "The Hutus got to the Tutsis. Or was it the other way around? I can't remember. And the Nazis killed Jews because they were Jews, in the Holocaust. OK? So, you know, I don't want to get into this comparative martyrdom stuff either. That's not what it's about."
'Faith, Hope, Love and Forgiveness'
Gibson said those who accuse him or his film of sparking anti-Semitism avoid the central point he had hoped to make.
"I don't want people to make it about the blame game," Gibson said. "It's about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. That's what this film is about. It's about Christ's sacrifice."
Jesus Christ "was beaten for our iniquities," Gibson said. "He was wounded for our transgressions and by his wounds we are healed. That's the point of the film. It's not about pointing the fingers."
"It's about faith, hope, love and forgiveness," he said. "It is reality for me. I believe that. I have to for my own sake so I can hope, so I can live."
'Didn't Want to Go On' Gibson suggested his life was not quite as full of spirituality when he hit bottom about 13 years ago.
"I just didn't want to go on," he told Sawyer.
"Everyone's got something," he added. "I would get addicted to anything, anything at all. Okay? Doesn't matter what it is drugs, booze, anything. You name it coffee, cigarettes, anything. Alright? I'm just one of these guys who is like that. That's my flaw.
"I checked into a few places, and sorted myself out," Gibson said. "I didn't make a big noise about it. There's no point in doing that. You know? I mean, the real medal goes to my wife, who's a wonderful woman."
At his lowest, Gibson said he considered jumping out a window.
"I was looking down thinking, 'Man, this is just easier this way,' " he said. "You have to be mad, you have to be insane, to despair in that way. But that is the height of spiritual bankruptcy. There's nothing left."
The "spiritual bankruptcy" led him to reexamine Christianity, and ultimately to create The Passion of the Christ "my vision with God's help" of the final hours in the life of Jesus.
'I Wanted it to Be Shocking'
Asked whether he considers his film the definitive depiction of the passion, Gibson said: "This is my version of what happened, according to the gospels and what I wanted to show the aspects of it I wanted to show."
Some critics wonder if Gibson chose to portray the story too graphically.
Gibson admitted his version is "very violent," but added, "If you don't like it, don't go. If you want to leave halfway through, go ahead."
"I wanted it to be shocking," Gibson said. "And I also wanted it to be extreme. I wanted it to push the viewer over the edge 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."
Foxman hopes viewers come away with that sort of message, rather than anger or bias.
"I hope that most people see it, Diane, as a passion of love," Foxman said. "Maybe when it's all over, in a sobering manner, we'll be able to come back and look each other in the face and say, 'We have to deal with this hatred that's still out there.'"
Gibson, too, wants dialogue.
"Let's get this out on the table and talk about it," he said. "This is what the Talmud says. This is what the Gospel says. Let's talk. Let's talk. People are asking questions about things that have been buried a long time."
"I hope it inspires introspection, and I think it does," Gibson said. "I want to inspire and make people feel."
Someone can make some money here if they come out with T-shirts that say, "I killed Jesus..." on the front and "...with my sin." on the back.
Yeah, because in reality, lashings followed by crucifixion were a relatively peaceful affair,involving minor discomfort and minimal bleeding. Why is Mel trying to porray it as such a bad thing?
I have a feeling that Passion is going to make back its production and distribution costs in the first week of release.
No moose either. Wonder if they served cheese?
(...running and ducking...)
Order your advanced tickets for "The Passion of The Christ"!
If you want to see what areas and countries are supporting the film, and how you can support and promote The Passion of Christ (the official title) to show at a theater near you, please visit this link: Support The Passion of Christ
...What happened to Christ while he hung on the cross? How can one who is immortal die?
I just saw the interview with Diane Sawyer and felt that she exhibited a look of true HORROR throughout the interview. Such is the look of evil when confronted with the unmitigated truth and love as presented in the Gospels. My prediction: Liberals will continue to try and vilify this film and just won't understand why they're unsuccessful. I'd love to see what Ann Coulter has to say about their efforts.
I don't reccomend you wear one around El Paso, Corpus Cristi or Houston....Likely not San Diego or Tucson, neither....
Exactly what I was thinking - she also had to interview the liberal Ex-priest...
Here's a recent British education article...
'Children should learn more about atheism and less about Jesus, says Labour think-tank'
By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor Telegraph Group Limited
'The teaching of religious education in schools should be renamed spiritual education, with children being taught more about atheism and less about the life of Jesus and the 10 Commandments, according to the Government's favourite think-tank.
The lessons should be widened to include "non-religious belief systems", a report by the Institute For Public Policy Research says. It calls for equal weight to be given to agnosticism and humanism as is given to Christianity...
. . .and Dianne does not. . .
Seems pretty clear that the anti-Jew/anti-semite baiting they claim Mel is guilty of is actually being promulgated by the Lib Media themselves.
Surprise NOT, of course.
Here's what Michael Savage has to say about "The Passion":
The Capture of Jesus choreographed in Kurosawa-esque movements.
The ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin linguistics.
A must for every Christian and Jew; every rebel, independent, iconoclast who has felt the blunt steel of rejection, isolation, humiliation, or castigation.
As for portraying Jews in a negative light - a resounding NO! That is, for rational educated people. There is always the fear that bigots will use this film as they might use any pretext to advance their hateful agenda. The wild card question is: How will radical Muslims use this film? Will they seek to turn Christians against Jews?
During the trial of Jesus, two ancient Hebrew Judges who loudly claim the hearing biased are boldly thrown from the court. The biased judges do not want to hear the opinion that Jesus is innocent of the charges against him. Good Jews. Fair Jews. Bad Jews. Biased Jews.
Good Romans. Bad Romans. Like today, in historical context. A passion play about faith and fear, the blessed and the cursed.
The loyal and traitorous. For everyone who has craved a portrait of living biblical history, there has never been a more accurate portrayal.
The Judas-tree scene alone is worth the price of admission. Both for its dramatic content as for its moral imperative. For every parent wanting to instill moral values in a child, The Passion can be a good teacher.
But we mustn't run from the most pregnant question. Some Jewish organizations have legitimate fears that this remarkable work of art might instigate hatred against the Jewish people. We cannot predict what demented bigots might do nor should we permit them to dictate the terms of our civilization and its artistic creations.
How is it that the most vile films imaginable are being made with little or no protest from the very same organizations attacking Gibson's artistic creation.
Murder, Rape, Drug Usage - all standard fare in a theater near you. No protest about these vile works from these organizations who object to what appears to be 100% biblically correct.
Following the screening of his controversial film, Mr. Gibson asked me what I thought of it. I said, "Of course there are going to be those who are going to look to blame the Jewish people, but it is the Romans who flay Jesus nearly to death and who actually crucify him." I added, "Mel, what are people going to do, stop eating pasta!" There was then much laughter all around the boardroom. But I repeat, are people to stop eating Italian food because of Pontius Pilate and the Roman sadists? It would be foolish to think so.
Link to article: http://www.homestead.com/prosites-prs/savagepassion.html
I made special concessions to see the interview, and wasnot disappointed!!
Way to go Mel, thanks for your honesty, your humility, and the Gift that God gave you.
EXCELLENT point well made....... but you forgot the /sarcasm> tag....
You are absolutely right. Diane Sawyer looked at Gibson throughout the interview as if he were a madman and acted appalled at his responses to her.
Apparently, she must be appalled at what millions of American Christians believe. Mel stuck straight with the Gospel accounts of Jesus. Ms. Sawyer represents the secular humanist liberal mafia who manipulate the presentation of reality through the Big News media. Limousine liberals. Apparently they feel they stand in judgment of Christians (as morally superior human beings). Just another goofy, self-righteous liberal.
I like how Mel worked that one in too. They picked the wrong guy to go after.
I think it should go over the $1B mark when all is said and done, and I'll stick with my original prediction that this will be the top grossing movie in history.
To understand Diane, you've really got to remember her "interview" of Ken Starr where she was horrified that he sings hymns. Diane is the prom queen. Her values are popularity and smug sophistication.
This religion stuff is an embarrassing flaw in the little people. Thankfully, there is no-one in her dinner party circuit who thinks like that.
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