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Gibson film well received by Jewish reviewers

An orthodox Jew who is one of America's best-known film reviewers says Mel Gibson's film about the death of Christ is the best adaptation of the Bible in Hollywood history.

Michael Medved went on television to speak glowingly of Gibson's self-financed $A39.93 million film, The Passion.

Jewish writer David Horowitz called the film it "an awesome artefact and an overpowering work".

These latest verdicts contrast markedly with earlier views. A leaked copy of the script had led to claims the film is a modern version of the medieval Passion plays, which portrayed Jews as "Christ killers" and stoked anti-Jewish violence.

The row over the film, which has yet to find a distributor, has unnerved Hollywood, with its many powerful Jewish film-makers. It has led to ferocious criticism of the project in the New York Times, published by Arthur Schultzberger Jnr.

A select group of film and literary critics who have been shown a rough cut were required by Gibson to sign a confidentiality agreement, promising not to write or speak about the contents without permission, as the film is not being released until next Easter.

However, the columnist Cal Thomas, who is among those shown the film, said the restriction had suddenly been lifted by Gibson. A panel of three Jewish and six Catholic scholars, who studied the leaked document, concluded that Jews were presented by Gibson as "bloodthirsty, vengeful and money-hungry".


Michael Medved: Controversial Film (Washington Post)
Mel Gibson Christ film is branded anti-Jewish (London Daily Telegraph)
Critics jittery over Mel's Passion (The Age 10/5/03)
Archbishop Defends Mel Gibson's 'Passion' (Newsmax/Zenit 31/5/03)
Frank Rich: The gospel according to Gibson (International Herald Tribune/New York Times 2/8/03)
Bloodthirsty or a classic? Gibson's film of Christ's last days alarms Jewish groups (The Guardian)
Cal Thomas: "The Passion" Exceeds Expectation (
The Passion (

7 Aug 2003