Skip to comments.This week in the New Yorker (Mel Gibson interview)
Posted on 09/09/2003 5:53:37 AM PDT by ultima ratio
September 7, 2003
THIS WEEK IN THE NEW YORKER
PRESS CONTACTS: Perri Dorset, Director, Public Relations (212) 286-5898 Jodi Bart, Junior Publicist (212) 286-5996
In his forthcoming film, "The Passion," "I didn't want to see Jesus looking really pretty. I wanted to mess up one of his eyes, destroy it," Mel Gibson tells Peter J. Boyer in "The Jesus War," in the September 15, 2003, issue of The New Yorker. "Violence," writes Boyer, who has seen an early, unfinished version of the movie, "is Gibson's natural film language, and his Jesus is unsparingly pummelled, flayed, kicked, and otherwise smitten from first to last." Gibson's retelling of the final week in the life of Jesus has already attracted tremendous controversy over its depiction of the role of the Jews in Christ's death, a dispute in which, Boyer writes, "the familiar advocates have reflexively assumed their familiar stations, even though the dramatic form at issuethe Christian Passion playis so obscure in the secular age that many Americans, perhaps most, would not likely be able to describe it." Gibson tells Boyer that he has included subtitles in his film, which is performed in Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic, to make it clear that some of the Jews portrayed in the movie are sympathetic figures. "You've just got to have them," he says, referring to the subtitles. "I mean, I didn't think so, but so many people say things to me like 'Why aren't there more sympathetic Jews in the crowd?' Well, they're there." Gibson adds, "It's just amazing to me how one-eyed some people are about this thing. I mean, it's like a veil comes down and they just can't see it. For instance, did you know that one of the priests helps take his body down from the Cross? It's there! Nobody sees it. They can only view it from one eye."
Gibson originally shot a scene, based on Saint Matthew's Gospel, that pictured Caiaphas, a Jewish high priest, calling down a curse on the Jews for killing Jesus, but he has chosen not to include it. "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." Criticism of Gibson's film began early; it grew after an ad-hoc group of interfaith scholars received a copy of the script anonymously in the mail and issued a critique of it. "I didn't realize it would be so vicious," Gibson says of the criticism. "The acts against the film started early. As soon as I announced I was doing it, it was 'This is a dangerous thing.' There is a vehement anti-Christian sentiment out there, and they don't want it. It's vicious. I mean, I think we're just a little part of it, we're just the meat in the sandwich here." On another occasion, Gibson tells a group of evangelicals he has brought to see the film that "the L.A. Times, it's an anti-Christian publication, as is the New York Times." Of Frank Rich, who wrote in the Times that Gibson was using "p.r. spin to defend a Holocaust denier," Gibson says, "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick....I want to kill his dog." Paul Lauer, Gibson's marketing director, who overheard Gibson saying this, tells Boyer, "The thing you have to understand is that the distance between Mel's heart and his mouth is greater than the distance between his imagination and his mouth. He is an artist, and he says these things, and his creative energy kicks in, and he comes out with these imaginative, wild things." It is Gibson's father who has been accused of being a Holocaust denier, a charge Gibson rejects. Gibson says, "I don't want to be dissing my father. He never denied the Holocaust; he just said there were fewer than six million. I don't want to have them dissing my father. I mean, he's my father."
Gibson's commitment to his faith, which has also inspired him to build a church near his home in California that celebrates the Tridentine Latin Mass rejected by Vatican reformers in the nineteen-sixties, reëmerged during his mid-thirties, he explains. "You can get pretty wounded along the way, and I was kind of out there. I got to a very desperate place. Very desperate. Kind of jump-out-of-a-window desperate. And I didn't want to hang around here, but I didn't want to check out. The other side was kind of scary. And I don't like heights, anyway. But when you get to the point where you don't want to live, and you don't want to dieit's a desperate, horrible place to be. And I just hit my knees. And I had to use the Passion of Christ and wounds to heal my wounds. And I've just been meditating on it for twelve years." Speaking of his own Traditionalist worship, he tells Boyer, "Believe me, every other type of everything is easier than what I do." The brouhaha over his film, Gibson points out, has had a curious effect: "Inadvertently," he says, "all the problems and the conflicts and stuffthis is some of the best marketing and publicity I have ever seen."
(Excerpt) Read more at newyorker.com ...
Does anyone know what he's talking about here?
Mt. 26:63-66 says, "But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, 'I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.' Then the high priest tore his robes and said, 'He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?' They answered, 'He deserves death.'" (RSV)
Then in Mt. 27:24-25, "... (Pilate) took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, 'I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.' And all the people answered, 'His blood be on us and on our children!' "
So I assume Mel is using "based on" in the typical Hollywood sense, meaning "significantly different from the cited source."
Any ideas? The discussion of this movie suggests that as they work on it, it's less and less like the Gospels.
I wonder if Gibson will include the fact that Caiaphas was appointed to his job by the Romans. The gospel writers wimped out on that point.
Jesus states that Pilate's authority came from God, however, he omits the fact that, since Caiaphas was appointed by the Romans, then his authority must have come from God too.
Let us say that something like this were to happen in Iraq in 2003. Paul Bremer has a job that is vaguely analogous to that of Pilate. Let us say Bremer were to appoint an Iraqi to the job of Minister of Law Enforcement but require that this person get Bremer's approval before executing anyone.
Let us say (hypothetically) that this Iraqi minister came to Bremer one day and said that a certain individual was guilty of a crime and deserved execution. Bremer looked into the matter and it appeared to him that the man was innocent, but a mob suddenly appeared and began chanting for the man's death, so Bremer acquiesced and executed the man.
Who would be held responsible for that execution? The Iraqi people or Bremer?
Bremer, of course, would be held responsible. The same should be said of Pilate. As the offical in command, Pilate should be held accountable for the death of Jesus, not the Jews.
But the fact remains that Caiaphas was a Roman appointee. And, if we accept Jesus' statement that the Romans obtained their power from God, (John 19:11) then Caiaphas, being a Roman appointee, also obtained his power from God.
Therefore, God ordained that Jesus die. No one else did.
As for Jesus's comment that Pilate's authority came from God--I'm sure the same could have been said of Caiphas, as you say. But so what? While authority comes from God, the way such authority is wielded--whether justly or unjustly--is a matter of an individual's judgment. Pilate and Caiphas still would have been obliged to act justly. They did not.
According to Paul, the Romans never acted unjustly:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.
Since Caiaphas was a Roman-appointed ruler, he was not a terror to good works but only to evil. Jesus, then, must have deserved to die. (according to Paul)
They most assuredly DID wimp out on the point that Caiaphas was a Roman appointee:
John 19:11 Jesus answered (to Pilate), Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
Apparently, when he says "he that delivered me," he is referring to Caiaphas. Naturally, the gospel writers could not mention that Caiaphas was a Roman appointee, because, if we take that fact into account, then Caiaphas is just as ordained of God as Pilate. Therefore, Caiaphas is not guilty of more or less sin than Pilate.
The gospel writers obviously wanted to shift the guilt for the death of Jesus from the Romans to the Jews because they did not want to insult their Roman masters. If you notice, in the gospels, Jesus directs all of his insults and cursing at the Pharisees, who did not have any official power. He never insults the High Priest and he never, NEVER insults the Romans.
The Jews preserved the writings of the prophets. They copied their words so meticulously over centuries that ancient texts that have been found are remarkably similar to the ones we have today.
Some of the prophets ran afoul of jealous kings but the Jews generally considered those kings to be evil and revered the memory of the prophets.
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