Mel Gibson is passionately angry at critics of his upcoming film about the death of Jesus Christ.
In remarks quoted in the New Yorker magazine, he denied “The Passion” is anti-Semitic and accused some of those leading the chorus against the film of being “anti-Christian.” Gibson said he personally has been the target of “vehement anti-Christian sentiment.”
In one statement bound to add fuel to the fire of anti-Semitism charges, Gibson accused “modern secular Judaism” of trying “to blame the Holocaust on the Roman Catholic Church.”
“It’s a lie. And it’s revisionism,” said Gibson, a follower of Traditionalist Catholicism that still performs the Latin Tridentine mass. “And they’ve been working on that one for a while.”
His film, shot entirely in Latin and Aramaic, has been planned for release next Easter, but, according to some reports, it may be out as early as this Christmas – even though it currently has no distributor.
Gibson said he has found himself caught up in a huge conflict between “big realms that are warring and battling. You stick your head up and you get knocked,” he said. “I didn’t realize it would be so vicious. The acts against this film started early. There is vehement anti-Christian sentiment out there and they don’t want it.”
About Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist who implied Gibson’s father is “a Holocaust denier,” the director had some choice – and inflammatory – words: “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog.”
Gibson said: “He never denied the Holocaust. He just said there were fewer than 6 million.”
As proof of his desire to avoid confrontation, Gibson cited his decision to cut a scene in which Caiaphas says “his blood be on us and on our children” soon after Pontius Pilate washes his hands of the captive Christ.
“I wanted it in,” he said. “My brother said I was wimping out if I didn’t include it. But, man, if I included that in there, they’d be coming after me at my house. They’d come to kill me.”
Icon Productions, Gibson’s privately owned production company, spent $25 million on the film. Marketing the project will be in the hands of Icon outside the U.S. and a yet-to-be-named distributor in the United States. Fox Filmed Entertainment, a subsidiary of News Corp., which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, is Icon’s usual U.S. distributor. But Fox has waived its right of first refusal and isn’t planning to distribute “The Passion.”
Alan Nierob, Gibson’s publicist at Rogers & Cowan, told Forbes Icon will start showing the film to other distributors in September and that it is looking for “someone smaller, who does niche marketing.” A Paramount Pictures spokeswoman says that studio is “waiting to see it.”