After facing a spate of personal crises, actor/director Mel Gibson rededicated himself to Christ and began practicing traditional Catholicism. His reborn spirituality eventually led him to spend $30 million of his own money to make a film about the cornerstone of his faith in God: the crucifixion of Christ. With a small budget, unknown stars and a script written in Aramaic and Latin, Gibson created his cinematic depiction of the last 12 hours of Jesus' life, The Passion of the Christ. But what began as an artistic exploration of Gibson's very personal beliefs became the source of much public debate. In a post-Sept. 11 environment where religion is more of a hot button topic than ever, the graphic film spawned controversy at least a year before it was released. Fears that Gibson's cinematic depiction of the crucifixion would flame anti-Semitism and concerns over his unorthodox marketing plan of screening the film for church groups in the heartland, prompted the press to scrutinize Gibson and his agendas. Once the film was released, disagreements over the film's historical accuracy, claims of gratuitous violence and uncertainty over the Pope's reaction to the film added fuel to the fire. Despite these and other obstacles, the movie struck a chord with American moviegoers and has earned more that $300 million dollars to date.moreless
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