[FOUNTAIN]Passions mark release of film about JesusMel Gibson is a born-again man. His father was a devout Catholic who studied for the priesthood but gave it up to join the army during World War II. The sixth of 11 children, Mr. Gibson once dreamed of becoming a clergyman himself. But when his 1997 film “Mad Max” became a huge hit, he found himself a successful Hollywood actor.
Mr. Gibson continued to thrive with the “Lethal Weapon” series, but fame and fortune began to rot his personal life in the late 1980s. He resorted to alcohol and drugs and confessed he was “spiritually bankrupt.” Suffering from suicidal tendencies, he made up his mind to return to his roots, began reading the Bible again and said he was reborn. He was convinced the passion of Jesus Christ had cured him, so he decided to make a film about the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life, the controversial “The Passion of the Christ.”
The roots he found were the traditional Catholicism that his father believed in. This Catholic splinter group criticizes the Vatican II Council of the Roman Catholic Church in 1962 because it proclaimed peace with other religions and apologized for the persecution of Jews. Mel Gibson’s father is a believer in that logic, rejects the post-council church and calls it “a conspiracy of the Jews.” He recently was in the headlines again, claiming that accounts of the Holocaust were exaggerated.
Mr. Gibson said that there is no salvation without Catholic beliefs. His wife of 24 years, who is the mother of his seven children, could not be saved because she is an Episcopalian, he said. While he was filming on location in Rome, he invited a traditionalist priest from Canada for daily services because he could not find one in Italy.
Mr. Gibson claims that his film dramatized the Bible as it is. But “The Passion of the Christ” is a product of evangelical interpretation that considers the Bible as absolute truth and is combined with the pre-Vatican II exclusionary perspective. The film has been widely condemned by Jews and other religious groups.
But Mr. Gibson believes his movie was inspired by the Holy Spirit. “The Passion of the Christ” became an instant box office hit, whose opening weekend earnings exceeded those of the “Lord of the Rings.” Through his film, Mr. Gibson seems to have triumphed in his version of a crusade. America is at war, one way or another.
by Oh Byung-sang
The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.