The fact is, y’all have me to thank for one of the most amazing scenes in Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ.
The story goes like this: after becoming a Catholic I remained living and working in England. I did some training as a script writer for movies, so one of the little writing jobs I picked up was reviewing films for a couple of Catholic weeklies. Mel Gibson had just made The Passion of the Christ and he was worried that he would not be able to find distribution for the film, so he was going around the world meeting Catholics with deep pockets who might like to help finance the movie.
He invited various folks from the London-England scene to a little private cinema in London to view the rough cut of his movie. For some reason I got an invitation. I guess because I was writing film reviews at the time, and some of the media people wanted to boost numbers. So I turned up with a friend, Steve Ryan–another American who was living in the UK at the time. As we entered the theater the buzz was that Mel Gibson would be there to talk to us after the screening. So he was. After the film was over he came out on stage and took questions and comments.
I put up my hand, “Mr Gibson, I appreciated the way you referenced famous Catholic artwork in the film. Was that intentional or was I imagining things?”
“It was intentional. We spent a lot of time working out every shot to reference the great tradition of Catholic art.” He then explained that the reason the dialogue was in Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic was so the film would function at a visceral level as a moving icon of the passion. Cool.
I then asked a follow up. “I wonder if you had thought of referencing that famous crucifixion by Salvador Dali in which Christ is seen from above, as if from heaven?”
Gibson answered, “No, but that’s interesting”
My friend Steve said, “I would have liked to have seen some reference to God the Father’s grief at the death of his Son.”
Then about a year later when the movie came out Steve called me, “Dwight, have you seen Mel’s movie?”
“No. Not yet.”
“Well you should go see it. Our scenes were included.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just go see it. You’ll see.”
Sure enough. Right after our Lord breathes his last the camera zooms away and up into the heavens and the crucifixion is seen as if from above. Then one drop (like a teardrop) falls from the sky and splashes to earth and the great storm begins and the rain falls.
Those two short scenes were not in the rough cut of the film we saw in London.