A serious filmmaker would normally feel gratified if his cinematic work inspired impassioned debate, intense emotional response, detailed analysis, even raging controversy. Well in advance of his picture's release, Mel Gibson has already produced that sort of reaction with The Passion of the Christ, his brutal, graphic, and lyrical account of the last 12 hours in the life of Christ. But Gibson insists he neither expected nor wanted the bitter arguments over the allegedly anti-Semitic content of the film.
The vitriolic denunciations of his artistic integrity, and even his personal religiosity, have proven especially painful to Gibson--who directs The Passion (his first such effort since Braveheart) but does not act in it. One critic who acknowledged that she had not yet seen any version of the film, Paula Fredriksen of Boston University, went so far as to declare that her reading of the script left no doubt that the movie will provoke anti-Jewish violence when it is shown outside the United States. "When violence breaks out," she wrote in The New Republic, "Mel Gibson will have a much higher authority than professors and bishops to answer to."
Such hysterical pronouncements, all too typical of the current storm over The Passion, emerged out of a poisonous combination of mistakes, misunderstandings, and sheer malice.
Read the entire article on the American Enterprise Institute website.