news from ekklesia

By staff writers
March 22, 2004

Gibson reveals the theology behind the Passion

-22/3/04

With the Passion about to become one of the biggest-grossing films ever, making Mel Gibson a personal profit of £200million, the man behind the movie has spoken out about his theology, the reports of "miracles" on the set and his "guidance" by the "Holy Ghost".

Gibson, 47, a devout Catholic, admits he was obsessed with making a film of the last hours of Christís life. Dario DíAmbrosi, who played a Roman soldier on the Italian film set, says: ìI can still see Mel, dripping blood, urging me on, reports the Sun.

ìIt seemed he wanted to feel the violence and the anger.

ìThere were litres and litres of blood. It was like a slaughterhouse.î

Mel, who directed and co-wrote the film insists that although he was determined to show the reality of Christís death, he still did not reveal the full horror.

He says: ìWe actually held back. If we had filmed exactly what happened, no one would have been able to take it.

ìI think we have got used to seeing pretty crosses on the wall and we forget what really happened.

ìWe know that Jesus suffered and died but we donít really think about what it means. I didnít realise this either when I was growing up.

ìThe full horror of what Jesus suffered for our redemption didnít really strike me.

ìBut when you finally see it and understand what He went through, it makes you feel not only compassion but also a debt. You want to repay Him for the enormity of His sacrifice. You want to love Him in return.î

Mel confesses even he found it hard to watch the two-hour film, starring James Caviezel as Jesus.

He says ìMaking this film is the most difficult thing Iíve done. Watching it is harder. Itís difficult because Christís Passion was difficult.

ìBut in watching it, Iíve found it actually purged me. It somehow heals me to watch it. Itís a strange thing ó I have never experienced a film like it. The words of God are what heals my wound.

ìMy aim is to profoundly change people. The audience has to experience the harsh reality to understand it. I want to reach people with a message of faith, hope, love and forgiveness.

ìChrist forgave them even as He was tortured and killed. Thatís the ultimate example of love.î

Mel certainly reached some of the cast, who converted to Christianity while making the movie.

Francesco De Vito, who plays Peter, says: ìWe talked about this movie and our faith on the set.

ìAnd in our lives there is something going on with many of us. It has changed us.î

Gibson says he is convinced he was ìguided by the Holy Ghostî during the filming and that God was present on set.

ìThis was not your normal movie set,î he said citing several ìmiraclesî which happened during filming to back his argument.

He claims a partially blind cast member regained their sight and that the daughter of one of the crew was cured of severe epilepsy.

He said: ìHer fits, which were daily, are completely gone. It gives you a lot of hope. Itís like ëWow! Weíre not kidding around about this stuff, itís happening.íî

Gibson says he was moved to make the film after turning to religion. When it was finished he spent months travelling America playing it to church leaders. Pastor Donnie Arrant, who was at one of the screenings, says: ìMel told us he did not set out to make a religious film.

ìHe said, ëMy goal was to tell a true story that would change lives. Iím bored with my career. This is important. This is something Iím supposed to do. Let the chips fall where they may.í This has been a dream of Melís. He has been thinking, writing and producing for 12 years.î

In Hollywood the rumour was that Mel had ìgone nutsî, ìbecome a whackoî, a ìJesus freakî whose career would be destroyed by the movie.

No major film studio would touch it and Mel had to invest £20million of his own money to get it made. He also had to battle hard to get it distributed until Icon stepped in.

He believes these were tests of his faith, saying: ìThere have been a lot of obstacles thrown in the way. Whenever you take up a subject like this it brings out a lot of enemies.

ìItís dangerous material. Youíre talking about the single event that influenced civilisation. This is big stuff.î

But his faith in both God and the film has been repaid by The Passionís box office success, where it has already taken £155million.

Many studios are now planning biblical epics of their own.

Plans for Mel to star in another Lethal Weapon action movie have been shelved. Many believe he may never return to acting.

He says: ìJesus died for all mankind. Itís time to get back to that message. The world has gone nuts. We could all use a little more love, faith, hope and forgiveness.î

Gibson reveals the theology behind the Passion

-22/3/04

With the Passion about to become one of the biggest-grossing films ever, making Mel Gibson a personal profit of £200million, the man behind the movie has spoken out about his theology, the reports of "miracles" on the set and his "guidance" by the "Holy Ghost".

Gibson, 47, a devout Catholic, admits he was obsessed with making a film of the last hours of Christís life. Dario DíAmbrosi, who played a Roman soldier on the Italian film set, says: ìI can still see Mel, dripping blood, urging me on, reports the Sun.

ìIt seemed he wanted to feel the violence and the anger.

ìThere were litres and litres of blood. It was like a slaughterhouse.î

Mel, who directed and co-wrote the film insists that although he was determined to show the reality of Christís death, he still did not reveal the full horror.

He says: ìWe actually held back. If we had filmed exactly what happened, no one would have been able to take it.

ìI think we have got used to seeing pretty crosses on the wall and we forget what really happened.

ìWe know that Jesus suffered and died but we donít really think about what it means. I didnít realise this either when I was growing up.

ìThe full horror of what Jesus suffered for our redemption didnít really strike me.

ìBut when you finally see it and understand what He went through, it makes you feel not only compassion but also a debt. You want to repay Him for the enormity of His sacrifice. You want to love Him in return.î

Mel confesses even he found it hard to watch the two-hour film, starring James Caviezel as Jesus.

He says ìMaking this film is the most difficult thing Iíve done. Watching it is harder. Itís difficult because Christís Passion was difficult.

ìBut in watching it, Iíve found it actually purged me. It somehow heals me to watch it. Itís a strange thing ó I have never experienced a film like it. The words of God are what heals my wound.

ìMy aim is to profoundly change people. The audience has to experience the harsh reality to understand it. I want to reach people with a message of faith, hope, love and forgiveness.

ìChrist forgave them even as He was tortured and killed. Thatís the ultimate example of love.î

Mel certainly reached some of the cast, who converted to Christianity while making the movie.

Francesco De Vito, who plays Peter, says: ìWe talked about this movie and our faith on the set.

ìAnd in our lives there is something going on with many of us. It has changed us.î

Gibson says he is convinced he was ìguided by the Holy Ghostî during the filming and that God was present on set.

ìThis was not your normal movie set,î he said citing several ìmiraclesî which happened during filming to back his argument.

He claims a partially blind cast member regained their sight and that the daughter of one of the crew was cured of severe epilepsy.

He said: ìHer fits, which were daily, are completely gone. It gives you a lot of hope. Itís like ëWow! Weíre not kidding around about this stuff, itís happening.íî

Gibson says he was moved to make the film after turning to religion. When it was finished he spent months travelling America playing it to church leaders. Pastor Donnie Arrant, who was at one of the screenings, says: ìMel told us he did not set out to make a religious film.

ìHe said, ëMy goal was to tell a true story that would change lives. Iím bored with my career. This is important. This is something Iím supposed to do. Let the chips fall where they may.í This has been a dream of Melís. He has been thinking, writing and producing for 12 years.î

In Hollywood the rumour was that Mel had ìgone nutsî, ìbecome a whackoî, a ìJesus freakî whose career would be destroyed by the movie.

No major film studio would touch it and Mel had to invest £20million of his own money to get it made. He also had to battle hard to get it distributed until Icon stepped in.

He believes these were tests of his faith, saying: ìThere have been a lot of obstacles thrown in the way. Whenever you take up a subject like this it brings out a lot of enemies.

ìItís dangerous material. Youíre talking about the single event that influenced civilisation. This is big stuff.î

But his faith in both God and the film has been repaid by The Passionís box office success, where it has already taken £155million.

Many studios are now planning biblical epics of their own.

Plans for Mel to star in another Lethal Weapon action movie have been shelved. Many believe he may never return to acting.

He says: ìJesus died for all mankind. Itís time to get back to that message. The world has gone nuts. We could all use a little more love, faith, hope and forgiveness.î

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.