LOS ANGELES - Monday, February 16, 2004, renowned actor Mel Gibson meets with Diane Sawyer in an interview aired on ABC discussing the intentions of Gibson’s latest film “The Passion of the Christ.” In reaction to thematic violence shown in the film, there has been allegations from some critics that Gibson’s film contains themes of Anti-Semitism. Gibson asserts that his motives were not to create a film advocating Anti-Semitism. Rather, Gibson defends that he is realistically portraying the extent of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and suffering.
The film, depicting the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus, is rated “R” for violence and has yet to be released in American theaters. "I wanted it to be shocking. And I also wanted it to be extreme. I wanted it to push the viewer over the edge. And it does that. I think it pushes one over the edge. So, that they see the enormity, the enormity of that sacrifice; to see that someone could endure that and still come back with love and forgiveness, even through extreme pain and suffering and ridicule." Gibson reasons during the interview.
Sawyer presents several questions to Mel Gibson regarding the controversy of Anti-Semitic themes and of the Christian faith as well. One of the questions Diane Sawyer poses to Gibson asking of his beliefs was, "Who killed Christ?"
"The big answer is, we all did. I'll be first in the culpability stakes here, you know." Gibson replies.
Gibson strongly states confidently that he is not Anti-Semitic. “For me, it goes against the tenets of my faith, to be racist in any form. To be anti-Semitic is a sin. It's been condemned by one Papal Council after another. There's encyclicals on it, which is, you know -- to be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian, and I'm not."
Gibson furthermore acknowledges the atrocities of the Holocaust, not ignoring the immorality of history and overlooking it as a “particular evil” as so Sawyer asked in one of her questions.
Sawyer then asked, "Are you looking into the face of a particular kind of evil with the Holocaust?"
To which Gibson replied: "You're looking -- yes. What's the particular evil? I mean, why do you need me to tell you? It's like, it's obvious. They're killed because of who and what they are. Is that not evil enough?"
“[It’s] not about pointing fingers. It's not about playing the blame game. It's about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. It is reality for me.
"[This] is my version of what happened, according to the Gospels and what I wanted to show, the aspects of it I wanted to show.”
Meanwhile, Christian communities show their support of the movie and the motives of the actor-director, whose focus and art is to reveal the truth of the life of Jesus Christ.