Monday, February 02, 2004

Passion News Round-up

A day does not go by without more on The Passion of the Christ; Icon productions must be delighted by the publicity it continues to get. Some of the latest stories to break include this one from the BBC (with thanks to Helenann Hartley for sending over):

Campaign against Gibson's Passion
Jewish and Christian groups have announced a lecture campaign after fearing Mel Gibson's upcoming film on Jesus could incite anti-Semitism
The Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee saw The Passion of the Christ, due out shortly, last week.

"It undermines the progress that we've made in this country toward mutual respect and religious pluralism," said Rabbi David Elcott.

Lectures, interfaith talks and other programmes will be held . . . .
The story reminded me to take a look at the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) web site which usually has up-to-date press releases. See the following:

ADL Screens Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ" ; Says Film's Portrayal of Jews "Painful to Watch"

ADL Letter to Mel Gibson

The latter is actually pretty well written and on the whole avoids the temptation to use inflammatory language. It asks Gibson to add "a movie postscript with you coming on screen at the end to implore your viewers to not let the movie turn some toward a passion of hatred". The interesting thing is that it seems that Gibson has decided to add a postscript of a kind. Thanks to Jim West on Xtalk last Thursday for pointing this one out on WorldNetDaily:

Gibson adding pro-Jewish ending to 'Passion'?
Evangelical leader describes dramatic anti-Semitism discussion after screening

And see here, also in WorldNetDaily, which gives the full story from the horse's own mouth:

Mel Gibson agrees to change 'Passion' film to combat anti-Semitism
Mike Evans
I was recently invited to a special screening of "The Passion of the Christ" in Dallas to make recommendations regarding the film . . . . At the end of the screening, Mr. Gibson humbly asked if we felt the film could incite anti-Semitism and, if so, what could be done to avoid it.

I explained to Mr. Gibson that the Crucifixion story has been used by anti-Semites to feed and fuel Jew-hatred throughout history, and that anti-Semitism has risen throughout the world to levels not seen since the days of Hitler. I further stated that the film, in its present form, could incite violence against Jews in the former USSR, Muslim countries and Europe, and could even result in Jews being killed . . . .

. . . . . Mr. Gibson listened intently, hung his head, and was deeply moved. "What can I do," he asked? I responded, "When the last scene ends go to black, scroll these words across the screen: "During the Roman occupation, 250,000 Jews were crucified by the Romans, but only One rose from the dead."

"By doing this," I said, "instead of feeding Jew-hatred, you will be fighting it. You will be communicating the suffering of all Jews under Roman occupation. By simply inserting this statement, those who desire to use the film to incite hatred toward Jews will be deterred.

"Those who might use the movie to incite Jew-hatred would know that they would be doing just the opposite – challenging the evil myths (that Jews are cursed for crucifying Christ and are Christ-killers) taught throughout history, and still today. In addition, 'The Passion of the Christ' would be the first Jesus film produced to fight anti-Semitism by telling the true story of Jewish suffering during the time of Christ."

Mel Gibson became very excited, and said, "Perfect! I will do it. Yes, I will do it. I needed something for that spot anyway. This is it. I will do it. Thank you." . . . . .
I've not yet seen any comment on this very interesting development, official or otherwise, from the ADL or others.

Meanwhile, Paula Fredriksen, one of those who offered her opinion of an early script of the film last April in the incident that got the whole controversy underway, offers some fresh reflections though she has not yet seen the film. This is in the Christian Science Monitor but reproduced from The Responsive Community:

Controversial 'Passion' presents priceless opportunity for education
A toxic film delivers a dangerous, but teachable, moment
By Paula Fredriksen

And finally, IMDb now has a list of release dates for the film across the world:

Release Dates for The Passion of the Christ

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