In an exclusive interview to be aired today at 10:00 p.m. ET. On ABCNEWS’ Primetime, Mel Gibson told Diane Sawyer that critics of his film, “The Passion of the Christ,” really have a problem with the Gospels.
“Critics who have a problem with me don't really have a problem with me in this film,” Gibson says on the interview, according to ABCNEWS; “They have a problem with the four Gospels. That's where their problem is.”
The accusation that the film will spark anti-Semitism avoids the central point of the film, says Gibson.
“It's about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. That's what this film is about. It's about Christ's sacrifice.”
Gibson tells Sawyer that he was moved to depict Jesus' sacrifice on film after reaching "the height of spiritual bankruptcy" 13 years ago. Things got so bad that he contemplated jumping out a window.
“I was looking down thinking, 'Man, this is just easier this way,' " he said. "You have to be mad, you have to be insane, to despair in that way. But that is the height of spiritual bankruptcy. There's nothing left.”
“Pain is the precursor to change, which is great,” Gibson said. “That's the good news.”
The “spiritual bankruptcy” led him to reexamine Christianity. He turned to the Bible and decided to create “The Passion of the Christ”, which he describes as his vision “with God's help” of the final hours in the life of Jesus. Gibson also tells Sawyer he tried his best to interpret the Gospels for the film.
Anti-Semitism is un-Christian
Gibson insists that he is not anti-Semitic, and that anti-Semitism is “un-Christian” and a sin that “goes against the tenets of my faith.”
When asked who killed Jesus, Gibson says: “The big answer is, we all did. I'll be the first in the culpability stakes here.”
Jesus Christ “was beaten for our iniquities,” Gibson also says. “He was wounded for our transgressions and by his wounds we are healed. That's the point of the film. It's not about pointing the fingers.”
“It's about faith, hope, love and forgiveness,” he says. “It is reality for me. … I believe that. I have to … for my own sake … so I can hope, so I can live.”
Gibson also says he doesn't deny that the Holocaust happened.
Gibson admitts his version is “very violent.” But he adds: “If you don't like it, don't go. … If you want to leave halfway through, go ahead.”
“I wanted it to be shocking,” Gibson says. “And I also wanted it to be extreme. I wanted it to push the viewer 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.”
“I hope it inspires introspection, and I think it does,” Gibson says. “I want to inspire and make people feel.”