The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gibson fuels fresh row on Passion

New York, Sept. 9: Mel Gibson turned on critics of his film The Passion, about Jesus Christ, over claims that it is anti-Semitic but his language has ignited a new controversy.

The Australian-born actor and director said he was the target of “vehement anti-Christian sentiment” but admitted that the row over his £16 million self-financed film was good publicity.

In one of a series of inflammatory remarks quoted in this week’s The New Yorker, Gibson accuses “modern secular Judaism” of trying “to blame the Holocaust on the Roman Catholic Church”. “It’s a lie. And it’s revisionism,” said Gibson, a follower of Traditionalist Catholicism that still performs the Latin Tridentine mass. “And they’ve been working on that one for a while.”

His film, due to be released next Easter but so far without a distributor, has been described as likely to fuel “hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism” by the Anti-Defamation League and has been criticised by some Roman Catholic theologians.

Its commercial appeal is also open to question as it has been shot entirely in Latin and Aramaic, the everyday language of Jesus and his disciples. It is unclear whether it will be subtitled.

Its director portrays himself as caught up in a huge conflict between “big realms that are warring and battling. You stick your head up and you get knocked,” he said.

“I didn’t realise it would be so vicious. The acts against this film started early. There is vehement anti-Christian sentiment out there and they don’t want it.”

As proof of his desire to avoid confrontation, Gibson cited his decision to cut a scene in which Caiaphas says “his blood be on us and on our children” soon after Pontius Pilate washes his hands of the captive Christ.

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