WORD FOR WORD - The Passion of Mel Gibson

By Kari Haskell
New York Times
February 22, 2004

FIRST, the controversy. Now the movie. "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's story of the last 12 hours of Christ's life, opens this week, on Ash Wednesday. Facing months of criticism that his movie portrays Jews in an incendiary way and presents a heretical view of the Crucifixion, Mr. Gibson, a conservative Catholic, has sought the approval of Protestant evangelicals and the Vatican for his work. Along the way, he has been asked about his father, Hutton Gibson, who has belittled the Holocaust and railed against Jews.

Mr. Gibson hasn't made any apologies for himself, his movie or his father. But he has weighed in on several points. Here are excerpts.


I don't think other films have tapped into the real force of this story. They're either historically inaccurate or suffer from bad music or bad hair.
Aug. 24, 2003 (Sunday Express)

I had to use the Passion of Christ and wounds to heal my wounds. I've just been meditating on it for 12 years.
Sept. 15, 2003 (The New Yorker)

A monkey has a better chance of typing the Gettysburg Address than Jesus has of not being the messiah.
Feb. 8, 2004 (The Press-Enterprise, of Riverside, Calif., quoting from an interview at Azusa Pacific University)


Well, I think anybody that is in the know about Jesus as God, and they believe in that, realize that he was brutalized, and that - I'm exploring it this way, I think, to show the extent of the sacrifice willingly taken. But I don't think people - I think it's going to be hard to take, but I don't necessarily know that people are going to be upset by it.
Jan. 14, 2003 ("The O'Reilly Factor'')

Understanding what he Jesus went through, even on a human level, makes me feel not only compassion, but also a debt: I want to repay him for the enormity of his sacrifice.
March 6, 2003 (Zenit)

I want the full savagery of it to sort of like, you know, jump out of the screen at you. And at the same time, this is the trick, it's to be moved by it, not just repelled by it.
Jan. 26, 2004 (NBC's "Today'')

From many accounts I've read, I think it was actually more violent than what you're going to see in this film.
March 2004 (Reader's Digest)


This isn't a story about Jews vs. Christians. Jesus himself was a Jew, his mother was a Jew, and so were his Twelve Apostles. It's true that, as the Bible says, He came unto his own and his own received him not; I can't hide that.
March 6, 2003 (Zenit)

So it's not singling them out and saying, They did it, That's not so. We're all culpable. I don't want to lynch any Jews. I mean, it's like it's not what I'm about. I love them. I pray for them.
Jan. 26, 2004 (NBC's "Today'')


Modern secular Judaism wants to blame the Holocaust on the Catholic Church ...

I don't want to be dissin' my father. He never denied the Holocaust; he just said there were fewer than 6 million."
Sept. 15, 2003 (The New Yorker)

Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps.
March 2004 (Reader's Digest)


I just hope I can do justice to the story. You can't please everybody, but then again, that's not my goal.
March 6, 2003 (Zenit)

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Return To The Passion Essays Index

Return To The Essay Index

Return To The Literary Index

Return To The Site Index Page

Email Shlomoh