Mel Gibson's "Passion"
Covering the 2004 movie by Mel Gibson through its trials, tribulations, and triumphs.
Further Details: Fox/MGM Home Entertainment has announced The Passion of the Christ: Definitive Edition. The two-disc special edition will be available to own from the 30th January for around $26.98. The film itself will be presented in 1.88:1 anamorphic widescreen, along with Aramaic DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround tracks. Extras will include Passion Re-Cut (seamlessly branched), a filmmaker commentary with Mel Gibson, Caleb Deschanel, and John Wright (original cut only), a production commentary with Stephen McEveety, Ted Rae and Keith Vanderlaan (original cut only), a theologian commentary with Mel Gibson, Father William J. Fulco, Gerry Matatics, and Father John Bartunek (original cut only), and a music audio commentary with John Debney on selected scenes. Completing the package will be deleted scenes (Pilate, Don't Cry), production artwork, historical texts, a By His Wounds We Are Healed: Making the Passion of the Christ Documentary, a five-part The Legacy feature (Paths of the Journey, On Language, Anno Domini, Crucifixion: Punishment in the Ancient World, and Through the Ages), and the trailer.
“The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo, Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)
He thought he was meeting for a surfing movie. Then Mel Gibson showed up
Feb. 16 issue - James Caviezel, the 35-year-old actor who first came to attention in Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" and starred in "The Count of Monte Cristo," talks to NEWSWEEK's Sean Smith about the agony and the ecstasy of playing the Savior in the controversial "The Passion of the Christ."
SMITH: Before you played this part, did anyone ever tell you that you looked like Jesus?
CAVIEZEL: Not at all. When I was younger someone once said, "You look like Mel Gibson." I told Mel that, and he said, "No you don't. I'm much better looking."[Laughs]
Playing Jesus is obviously a daunting proposition. Why did you say yes to Mel?
I got a phone call telling me that producer Stephen McEveety wanted to meet with me about a surfing movie. I went and met him for lunch, and after a few hours Mel Gibson shows up. He starts talking about what Christ really went through, and I said, "Yeah, I saw the Zeffirelli movie ['Jesus of Nazareth']." He goes, "No, no. I'm talking about the real thing." And then it hit me. I said, "You want me to play Jesus."
So the surfing movie...
Was just a front. They were trying to get a feel for me.
Did he tell you he wanted you to play it in Aramaic?
He was talking about thatAramaic, Hebrew and Latinbut I thought, "He isn't really thinking about doing it." [Laughs] Working with Mel Gibson is a little like waltzing with a hurricane. It's always exciting, and you're never quite sure where it's going to take you. I thought learning the languages was going to be the most difficult part. It turned out the physical pain was the worst because of the cold.
The cold? Didn't you shoot this in Italy?
Yeah, in winter. I was freezing in that loincloth. The physical pain started at 2 in the morning. At the worst it was eight hours of makeup, and I couldn't sit down; I was in this crouched position. [During the Crucifixion] the wind was just coming down those canyons, slicing me apart. The cold was just... have you seen those things at the fair where there's a guy on a wheel, and they spin the wheel and throw knives at him and they just miss? On this movie I felt like they were all hitting me.
The long scene where Jesus gets scourged with metal lashes is incredibly difficult to watch.
There was a board on my back, about a half-inch thick, so the Roman soldiers wouldn't hit my back. But one of the soldiers missed, hit me flush on the back and ripped the skin right off. I couldn't scream, I couldn't breathe. It's so painful that it shocks your system. I looked over at the guy, and I probably said the F word. Within a couple of strokes he missed again. There's like a 14-inch scar on my back . So we had good days and bad days.
Sounds like more bad than good.
You know I got struck by lightning.
You got struck by lightning?
Oh, yeah. We were shooting the Sermon on the Mount. About four seconds before it happened it was quiet, and then it was like someone slapped my ears. I had seven or eight seconds of, like, a pink, fuzzy color, and people started screaming. They said I had fire on the left side of my head and light around my body. All I can tell you is that I looked like I went to Don King's hairstylist.
Did it occur to you that if you're playing Christ and you get struck by lightning, maybe[Laughs, then, as if speaking to God:] "Didn't like that take, huh?"
You're Catholic. Did playing Christ deepen your faith?
I love him more than I ever knew possible. I love him more than my wife, my family. There were times when I was up there [on the cross], and I could barely speak. Continual hypothermia is so excruciating. I connected to a place I could have never, ever gone. I don't want people to see me. All I want them to see is Jesus Christ.
Did Mel tell you why he wanted to make the film?
He told me that he went through a rough stretch in his life, and that he rediscovered the Gospels about 12 years ago. He began meditating on the passion and death of Jesus. In doing so, he said the wounds of Christ healed his wounds. And I think the film expresses that.
Has the controversy around the film and the fact that Mel's been accused of anti-Semitism surprised you?
It's been the most frustrating thing to watch. I can tell you this much, the guy is not in the least anti-Semitic. I never saw it. Maia Morgenstern [who plays the Virgin Mary] is this beautiful Jewish Romanian actress whose parents were in the Holocaust. Every day he'd say, "Maia, tell me about your traditions. Is this OK to do?" He wanted to make this film very Semitic. Instead of having an Aryan, blue-eyed Jesus, he wanted to have a very Semitic Jesus. Our faith is grounded in our Jewish tradition. We believe we're from the House of David. We believe we're from the House of Abraham, so we cannot hate our own. That crowd standing before Pontius Pilate screaming for the head of Christ in no way convicts an entire race for the death of Jesus Christ any more than the actions of Mussolini condemn all Italians, or the heinous actions of Stalin condemn all Russians. We're all culpable in the death of Christ. My sins put him up there. Yours did. That's what this story is about.
Was it hard to keep silent when Jewish leaders were voicing their concerns?
They have every right to defend their faith. But I believe that when all my Jewish brothers see this film, they will realize that it's not about assigning blame. It's about love. It's about sacrifice. It's about forgiveness and hope.
In his first nationally broadcast interview about his starring role in Mel Gibson's much-anticipated film "The Passion of Christ," James Caviezel - Gibson's Jesus - detailed on Friday the ordeal of filming the Crucifixion scenes, noting that the overall experience prompted many in the crew to convert to Catholicism.
"I was on the cross about five weeks in 30 degree temperatures," Caviezel told nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity. "It was up on the side of a cliff. It's like going up to the Grand Canyon. When the wind gets going, you're in the center of a twister. The Cross is teetering and I'm looking down on all these people shivering in their jackets and mittens. I'm up there for days - nothing on, my arms tied down."
Caviezel said Gibson did his best to make filming the Cross scenes more comfortable by positioning heaters at his feet out of camera range. But the effort merely resulted in giving him "fried toes," he said. The frigid temperatures and cooked flesh turned out to be the least of Caviezel's problems.
"During the scourging scenes, there was a board on my back and the Romans would wind up and hit it," he told Hannity. "And this guy hit me square on the back and I had a 14 inch scar on my back and it really knocked the wind out of me."
The physical punishment, however, wasn't as traumatic as the lightning that struck him while he was hanging on the Cross. "I was lit up like a Christmas tree," the actor told Hannity. "It felt as if I had two hands slapping my head and all of a sudden I had 200 extras scurrying. I had no idea what happened. All I was seeing was pink and a kind of a fuzzy static in front of my eyes." Caviezel said that when one of the crew came over to check if he was OK, he was struck by lightning, too. Asked if he thought the lightning strike was "a sign from God," Caviezel told Hannity, "I think the whole thing has been that way."
Noting "the amount of conversions on the movie," he said the experience of filming Christ's story "really changed people's lives." Caviezel recalled telling Gibson, "I think it's very important that we have mass every day - at least I need that to play this guy." "I felt if I was going to play him I needed [the sacrament] in me. So [Gibson] provided that." At the same time, Caviezel said, Gibson went out of his way to be "very respectful to people like Maya Morgenstern, who's Jewish and whose parent was a Holocaust survivor." Morgenstern plays the Virgin Mary in the film.
He defended "Passion" against charges by critics that the film encourages anti-Semitism, stressing that it offers sympathetic portrayals of Mary, the Apostles and other Jewish figures. "There's no broad brush applied here to any particular group," he told Hannity. "This film does not play the blame game. "We are all culpable for the death of Christ," added the film's star. "My sins, your sins put him on that cross."
Caviezel credited Gibson with pulling off the immensely difficult project. "Working with Mel Gibson was a little bit like waltzing with a hurricane," he told Hannity. "It's always exciting and you're never quite sure where it's going to take you. The guy is kinetically a genius."
Jewish Actress Defends Mel Gibson's Film
'Passion' elicits unfair conflict