Sunday, February 15, 2004

So Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, no longer utters the "blood libel" against Jews in Mel Gibson's Jesus movie -- right? You know: "His blood be on us, and on our children" -- Mel cut that out, didn't he?

The cover story in this week's Entertainment Weekly (subscription only) says maybe, maybe not:

Last fall, Gibson reportedly cut the line; in fact, at the [November] screening attended by [Jim] Caviezel [the star of the film] and [actress Rene] Russo, it wasn't there. But in recent weeks, Gibson showed thousands of Christians a version that retained the line. Word got out. Controversy erupted. The press pounced. Gibson was heard to suggest that dark forces were moving against him. And again, interest was piqued. The capper: In February, The New York Times, whose coverage of The Passion Gibson has deplored, was allowed to see the film, and broke the news that the "blood libel" reference had been deleted.

The magazine thinks this is just a clever way to garner publicity. I doubt it. I think when the movie opens, the line will be gone -- at least on the West Coast and in the Northeast. Now, maybe it would be too risky for Gibson to retain the line in the prints that are distributed in the red states. Maybe he'll just wait and restore it in the DVD ("UNCUT CHRISTIAN EDITION!"). Maybe the line will be absent in American prints, but will show up in prints distributed in, oh, I don't know ... Indonesia and the Middle East? Or maybe, in the future, when church groups ask for copies to help in proselytizing, the line will slip in.

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