Monday, September 29, 2008

Fr. Longenecker and Mel

"OK then, here's the Mel Gibson story:

I was living in London, and it was the year before Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ came out. There was some doubt as to whether Gibson would be able to get backers to help with the distribution of the film. He came to London to meet with Catholics involved in film and media as well as some potential financial backers to show us a rough cut of the movie.

Since I was writing film reviews at the time for Catholic papers I got an invitation. We saw the film in a little cinema in Soho in London, and afterward Mel Gibson appeared on stage to ask for our opinion and for any comments and suggestions.

I said that I liked the way he referenced famous Catholic art with his composition of shots and directorial style, and was this intentional. He admitted that it was, and I then said I would have liked to have seen a reference to the famous Salvador Dali crucifixion based on a vision of St John of the Cross in which we see the crucified Lord from the viewpoint of heaven.

Steve--a friend of mine piped up, "I would have liked to have seen some sign of God the Father's grief at the death of his son." Mel took all this on board. We packed up and some of us went off to dinner at a well to do Catholic's home. On the terrace I had the chance to talk personally with Mel Gibson about his Catholic faith and his commitment to the Church.

About a year later, after the film was released, Steve called me and said, "Dwight, have you seen Mel's movie?"

"Not yet," I replied.

"You got to go see it. He put our scenes in."

"What do you mean?"

"You know you said you wanted to see the crucifixion from God's perspective and I wanted to see a sign of the Father's grief?"


"Both scenes are now in the picture."

Sure enough. After Our Lord dies the camera zooms up to view Calvary from the celestial perspective, and then there is a clap of thunder and a single drop of rain--like a teardrop from heaven--falls in slow motion to the earth and the earthquake begins and the torrent starts to fall."

Those two short scenes were not in the rough cut of the movie we saw in London."

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