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Inside Mel Gibsonís Passion
Catholic Exchange ^ | March 11, 2005 | Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Posted on 03/11/2005 12:17:01 PM PST by NYer

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by Fr. John Bartunek, LC


Other Articles by Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Inside Mel Gibson’s Passion
03/11/05


Last year I had the most meaningful Lent of my life, for two reasons. One, because it was my first Lent as a priest — I was ordained in Rome, on Christmas Eve, 2003. Two, because I had spent much of the previous twelve months, off and on, with Mel Gibson and the cast and crew of The Passion of The Christ — an experience that ended up giving rise to the book Inside the Passion.


In This Article...
A Profoundly Enriching Journey
Why a Book?
Take the Tour

A Profoundly Enriching Journey

I was studying theology in Rome while they were filming. A fellow seminarian had met Jim Caviezel (the actor who played Jesus) through a mutual friend and invited him to drop by the seminary. He looked odd. They had shaved half of his head (the front half) to make room for the wig and makeup, and it gave him a rather barbaric air. But his eyes shone with sincerity and contagious enthusiasm when we talked about the film. Hours passed like minutes. He invited us to come out to the set and watch the remarkable project in action. That was my first step on what turned out to be a stirring, profoundly enriching journey into the making of this cinematic masterpiece.

Inside the Passion of the ChristI never had an official role in the movie. In fact, they had already filmed more than half of it before I met Jim. But as a Catholic seminarian on the verge of priestly ordination, I was eager to stick my nose into everything I could. I watched them choreograph the flagellation; I observed, mesmerized, as Gibson orchestrated the brilliant flashbacks; I flinched at Jim writhing on the cross as the soldiers pounded the spikes into his hands and feet (it took a lot of pounding to get that scene right).

I had a sense — everyone working on the film had a sense — that this was no ordinary movie. The more I got into it, the more that sense grew.

Why a Book?

A few months after the filming, Mel began screening an initial version of the movie. He wanted to let people see it and quell critics’ fears. When he was back in Rome rerecording some of the dialogue, I attended one of those early screenings, the one for the cast and crew in Cinecittà (the Hollywood of Rome). We went in to the theatre smiling and chatting. We came out deeply moved, shaken to the roots. We hung around the studio afterwards for a long while, talking, digesting, reflecting.

That’s when a priest friend of mine had the idea for a book. The film had stunned and amazed the cast and crew — many of whom were not Christian believers — and we were convinced it would do the same for audiences everywhere. It was a rare spiritual and artistic triumph. But it operated on so many levels; the dramatic and theological fabrics were woven together so delicately and intricately. Why not put together a book to serve as a kind of tour guide for this intriguing, captivating work of art, something that could help viewers — both those who loved the film and those who were perplexed by it — dig deeper into it?

We proposed the idea to Mel. At first he was reluctant. The movie itself said everything he wanted to say; if he had wanted to write a book, he would have written a book. But we pointed out that other great works of art, like the Sistine ceiling or St. Peter’s Basilica, often remain impressive, but partially inaccessible. People want to understand them more fully — even believers — but they need a guide to explain the symbols and the artists’ intentions. Such explanations aren’t belittling; they’re enriching. OK, he said. Give it a shot.

Take the Tour

That was in October, 2004. I left Rome then, to spend time with Mel and his team in Los Angeles, interviewing, observing, and taking copious notes. For four months I followed them around — the sound studio, the editing room, the special effects department, the car, the private screenings. The more I saw and learned, the more amazed I became. The more I delved into the film, the more I loved it, and the more it helped me enter into Christ’s Passion. My desire to share all that I was discovering became a passion in itself — especially as the controversy intensified; the book would help people understand the reasons behind Mel’s choices.

It took longer than I thought to refine the manuscript, though judging by the reactions of those who have read it, the wait was worthwhile. But it’s not the book that’s important; it just enhances one’s experience of the movie — of this arresting, haunting, absorbing artistic representation of the fulcrum of human history. Like every great work of art, it’s worth reflecting on, it’s worth taking a tour of, it’s worth going back to again and again and again.

Fr. John Bartunek received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Stanford University in 1990, graduating cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the Legionaries of Christ, a religious congregation. He is currently studying for an advanced degree in moral theology in Rome, where he resides. You can write to him at
fatherjohn@insidethepassion.com.


Deepen your journey into the unforgettable film, The Passion of The Christ, with the only authorized book that goes behind the scenes. Fr. John Bartunek, L.C., provides biblical, historical, and theological insights gleaned from hours spent on the set and interviews with the director, actors, and filmmaking crew. Inside the Passion is the most complete and thorough commentary on the movie you will read. Foreword by Mel Gibson. Click here for more information or to order.



TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Current Events; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: gibson; mo; moviereview; passion; thepassion

1 posted on 03/11/2005 12:17:01 PM PST by NYer
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To: american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; ...

PASSION RECUT , opens today, March 11.

2 posted on 03/11/2005 12:19:38 PM PST by NYer ("The Eastern Churches are the Treasures of the Catholic Church" - Pope John XXIII)
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To: NYer
Thanks Mel.


People's Choice Awards March 2005

3 posted on 03/11/2005 12:29:52 PM PST by Liz ("There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men." Edmund Burke)
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“MISERABLE SERPENT” BISHOPS JOIN WITH THOSE WHO CONDEMN MEL GIBSON’S “COURAGEOUS AND BEAUTIFUL EFFORT”

NJ Catholic priest was so appalled by Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ'' that he described the film as "religious barbarism.'' "I saw it as religious barbarism ... in my opinion, God did not send his son to die,''

The Gospel of Mel Gibson

4 posted on 03/11/2005 1:18:53 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, algae)
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To: Coleus

UNFORTUNATELY THESE SO CALLED cATHOLICS -CLERGY- WHO ARE AGAINST THE PASSION, TO ME HAVE LOST THE FAITH AND THEIR OPINION IS OF NO CONCERN-


5 posted on 03/11/2005 4:55:12 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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To: Rosary; Coleus
THESE SO CALLED cATHOLICS -CLERGY- WHO ARE AGAINST THE PASSION, TO ME HAVE LOST THE FAITH

Unfortunately, many Catholic clergy have lost their faith, but have refused to relinquish their positions of authority.

6 posted on 03/11/2005 11:06:21 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Tagline schmagline.)
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To: Jeff Chandler

Unfortunately, many Catholic clergy have lost their faith, but have refused to relinquish their positions of authority.
>>

It's no longer a ministry and vocation for them, it's a job with job security, benefits and a place to retire after their done for which we have to pay and support.


7 posted on 03/12/2005 5:23:16 PM PST by Coleus (Abortion and Euthanasia, Don't Democrats just kill ya! Kill babies, Save the Bears!!)
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To: Coleus

Sad but partly true,they forget there is God..Whom, one day they will (as well as all people) have to face..to be judged and placed in eternal hell or heaven.
The story of Our Lady of LaSalette explains much on what would happen to the Catholic Clergy..The faith ect..1800's
she warned..


8 posted on 03/12/2005 6:42:57 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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To: Rosary; Victoria Delsoul; Northern Yankee; lonevoice; saradippity

I ordered my book-PING!


9 posted on 03/12/2005 6:55:10 PM PST by kstewskis ("Tolerance is what happens when one loses their principles"....Fr. A Saenz.)
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To: kstewskis
Thanks for the ping.

Bump.

10 posted on 03/12/2005 7:49:36 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: kstewskis; Victoria; lonevoice; GirlShortstop; Liz; Raquel
I ordered my book-PING!

What's a book-PING? (Sounds Chinese...;))

There is a wealth of information that is wonderful to have in regards to the movie. (The account of the scene filmed with Veronica is fascinating.)

A great Lenten read.

11 posted on 03/13/2005 4:25:55 AM PST by Northern Yankee (Freedom Needs A Soldier!)
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To: kstewskis

I got the book, a young priest who observed, and questioned the actors and Gibson adds so things to the story. the priest is a Legionaries of Christ, priest...who may no doubt in the future start saying the Latin mass...due to all those said on location by those who came to say it during the filming....watch in the future!
What's it all about? says him to himself....time will tell.
Hail Mary!!!!


12 posted on 03/13/2005 3:32:44 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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To: kstewskis

I got the book, a young priest who observed, and questioned the actors and Gibson adds so things to the story. the priest is a Legionaries of Christ, priest...who may no doubt in the future start saying the Latin mass...due to all those said on location by those who came to say it during the filming....watch in the future!
What's it all about? says him to himself....time will tell.
Hail Mary!!!!


13 posted on 03/13/2005 3:33:11 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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To: Rosary; Northern Yankee; Victoria Delsoul; GirlShortstop; All
Wonderful, I can't wait to read it.

I just came across another wonderful little devotional booklet today, called the "Passion Companion" put out by Circle Media, Inc, last year (how'd I miss that?). It has a photo of Jim Caviezel as Jesus on the cover.

(800)356-9916

Anyway, it is a Rosary Aid (The Sorrowful Mysteries), Study Guide, and Stations of the Cross devotional. It's all centered around The Passion, uses images from the movie, and quotes from scripture, the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, as well as Mel Gibson and Jim Caviezel.

It's only 52 pages long, but I could not put it down!

I highly recommend it, as a nice aid for meditation on The Passion during these next two weeks.

14 posted on 03/13/2005 6:24:46 PM PST by kstewskis ("Tolerance is what happens when one loses their principles"....Fr. A Saenz.)
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To: kstewskis

Thanks for the info.


15 posted on 03/13/2005 6:59:31 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: kstewskis

None still outdue "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ" Anne Catherine Emmerich...by TAn Books.
Best by far out there! Next to the Bible(Douy Rheims)Haddock
version..complete with explainations by Fr. Haddock.- its the Red Bible with separate,New and Old Testaments.


16 posted on 03/14/2005 4:36:50 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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To: Rosary

I agree. I have them both! :)


17 posted on 03/14/2005 8:05:56 PM PST by kstewskis ("Tolerance is what happens when one loses their principles"....Fr. A Saenz.)
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To: kstewskis

Good for you...another good one too is Thomas A' Kempis-
Imitation of Christ.....just a chapter daily! Good Soul food.. haha


18 posted on 03/15/2005 5:15:19 PM PST by Rosary (Pray the Rosary daily)
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