The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gibson film on Christ in 2 tongues

Rome, Sept. 21 (Reuters): A film in two ancient tongues with no subtitles'

The off-beat formula hardly sounds like the recipe for a hit movie but Mel Gibson thinks language should be no barrier. Passion — a Gibson-directed flick about Christ’s last 12 hours — will be in Latin and Aramaic.

“For me that’s more real and hopefully I’ll be able to transcend language barriers with filmic story-telling,” Gibson told reporters yesterday.

“It’s very visual and it’s about something that has... affected civilisation in every possible way you can imagine,” the 46-year-old actor, a devout Catholic, added.

But Gibson, a perennial Hollywood favourite with lead roles in the hit Lethal Weapon series, Braveheart and more recently Signs, acknowledged his choice of languages for the new film was causing headaches as far as US distributors were concerned.

“No one wants to touch something in two dead languages. They think I’m insane, maybe I am,” joked Gibson, who was born in New York but grew up in Australia. The abolition of the Latin mass was one of the key reforms adopted in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council, which sought to bring the liturgy closer to ordinary people.

But Gibson is very much of the old school, and a Latin service is still held at the private chapel of his California home.

He also had some sharp words for the modern-day Catholic Church, rocked this year by allegations of child abuse. “It’s very easy to be shaken these days faith-wise. All this kind of paedophilia stuff in the United States, it’s hard to hang on to a foundation with this stuff going on,” he told Reuters.

Shooting will switch between the famous Cinecitta studios just outside Rome and cave-riddled Matera in southern Italy.

Gibson acknowledged he was filming “in the shadow of the dome” but brushed aside questions on whether the Vatican would approve of the film. “I don’t know what they like these days,” he said, adding his priority was to make a credible film.

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