pray for the people who are upset. I sincerely believe that
their suspicions are wrong. This movie will bring people
closer together, not incite violence and hatred. That was
our experience in making it, and that has been the experience
of the people who have seen it so far."
- Mel Gibson, Director
Questioning the Story:
Before being asked to play Jesus, did actor Jim Caviezel
really think that he was meeting for a surfing movie?
Yes. Jim Caviezel met with producer Stephen McEveety for
lunch to discuss what he thought was going to be a role
in a surfing movie. After a few hours however, Mel Gibson
showed up and began talking about Christ's suffering. Shortly
afterward, Caviezel caught on, "You want me to play
Jesus," he said. -Newsweek
Was the actor who played Satan a man or a woman?
Most people who have seen the film seem to believe that
the character is a man. Before researching the movie, when
I told my girlfriend that I thought it was a woman, she
glared at me accusingly and replied, "There is no way
that Satan is a woman." I'm
still not sure what she meant. After all, I did make her
dinner on Valentine's Day. In reality, we can only assume
that Gibson intended the character's gender to be indecipherable,
just like how the infant-looking creature that Satan carried
during the torture scene was neither young nor old. The
creature's body appeared to be that of a baby, but its face
was much more aged. The truth is that the part of Satan
in the film was played by a woman, actress Rosalinda Celentano
to enlarge). -IMDB
Where was The Passion of the Christ filmed?
The Passion of the Christ was filmed on various locations
in Italy, including Rome's Cinecittà studios.
The movie's director, Mel Gibson, had visited several other
locations prior to filming, which had been previously used
for similar films. In the end Gibson wanted to find locations
that had been relatively unexplored through the lens of
a movie camera. He found these ideal areas in Italy, including
the towns of Rome, Lazio, Craco, Matera, and Basilicata.
If you watch the film's credits, you will notice an abundance
of Italian names, including Monica Bellucci (The Matrix
Reloaded, 2003), the popular Italian actress who portrayed
Mary Magdalene in the film.
Did the actor Jim Caviezel really get struck by lightning
when shooting the Sermon on the Mount?
Yes. According to Caviezel, who portrayed Jesus in the film,
this really happened. In the Newsweek interview,
Jim Caviezel said the following about the bolt from above,
"We were shooting the Sermon on the Mount. About four
seconds before it happened it was quiet, and then it was
like someone slapped my ears. I had seven or eight seconds
of, like, a pink, fuzzy color, and people started screaming.
They said I had fire on the left side of my head and light
around my body. All I can tell you is that I looked like
I went to Don King's hairstylist." Caviezel then implied
that the strike might have been God's way of telling him
that he (God) was unhappy with the take. When you think
about it, God and directors are not all that dissimilar.
What motivated Mel Gibson to make a movie about Jesus' final
In an interview that appeared in the February 2004 issue
of the Knights of Columbus magazine Columbia, Mel
Gibson said the following about deciding to make the film,
"About 13 years ago I came to a difficult point in
my life, and meditating on Christ's sufferings, on his passion,
got me through it. ... And when I did that, through reading,
and studying, and meditating and praying, I began to see
in my own mind what he really went through. ... The story,
the way I envisioned the suffering of Christ, got inside
me and started to grow, and it reached a point where I just
had to tell it, to get it out."
Did the Vatican, fearing the controversy, really change
its position on the film?
Yes. As reported on the Fox News Channel, this appears to
be true. In December of 2003, reputable newspapers reported
that the Pope was behind the film. For example, New York
Newsday reported, "Pope: Gibson's Passion Is Authentic;
Pontiff moved by controversial film." Then, on Januray
20, 2004, the New York Times reported that the Pope had
not endorsed the film. The following day an article appeared
in the Washington Post that suggested the same thing, "No
'Passion' Reference; Aide Says Pope Never Commented on Gibson
Film." The Pope, who is much too old to defend his
original statement, appears to have been muffled by the
other officials at the Vatican. Gibson responded to this
by saying, "Their just people I guess, you know institutions
come down to people, and you can't blame the institution
for what people..." -FOXNews.com
Was The Passion of the Christ really advertised
on a NASCAR racecar?
Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR champion, displayed a paint scheme
featuring the film on the hood of his Chevrolet (right,
to enlarge) for the 2004 Daytona 500. Jim
Caviezel attended the race to cheer on the controversial
No. 18 Interstate Batteries car. Caviezel, who was in the
car's pit on race day, is no stranger to racing. He drove
the 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car at the
start of the 2002 Indianapolis 500.
What did director Mel Gibson use as the basis for his
interpretation of the story of Jesus?
In making The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson based
his interpretation of the story on a mixture of accounts
from the four Gospels of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark,
Luke, John. He also drew inspiration from the visions of
two nuns: Mary of Agreda (1602-1665) of Spain and Anne Catherine
Emmerich (1774-1824) of France. The latter, Emmerich, experienced
the stigmata, which is the collective term for unexplained
wounds that imitate those suffered by Jesus. Emmerich discovered
such wounds on her head, hands, chest, and feet. Some even
bared the markings of the thorns (the
In 1819, six years after she first experienced external
signs of the stigmata, the famous poet Clemens Brentano
came to visit Anne Catherine Emmerich. To his astonishment,
as she lay ill and confined to her bed, she recognized him
as the man who had been pointed out to her to fulfill God's
command, specifically, to translate to text the revelations
that had been conveyed to her. Brentano's dictation first
appeared in 1833 as "The
Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according
to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich" (Sulzbach).
Mel Gibson used this translation as inspiration for his
version of the Passion (the suffering of Christ). -NewAdvent.org
Does director Mel Gibson appear in The Passion of
Yes. In the movie, it is Mel Gibson's hand that we see
holding the spike that the Roman soldier hammers through
Jesus' hand. -Crosswalk.com
the Story (the history):
Was Pontius Pilate really as morally conscious as he was
portrayed to be in the film?
In all of the articles that I have read in my research for
this page, almost all of them point out that Pilate was not
nearly as kind and humane as he was depicted to be in the
film. "Isn't [Jesus] the prophet you welcomed into the
city?" Pilate asked in the movie. "Can any of you
explain this madness to me?" In the
movie Pilate was almost forced into handing down
the crucifixion sentence as a result of Caiphas' determination
to rid himself and the high priests of Jesus. Historical references
contradict this notion. The earliest known extra-Biblical
sources that refer to Jesus are those by the historians Josephus
and Tacitus, which say that Pilate executed Jesus. At that
time Rome executed for the civil crime of sedition and not
the religious crime of blasphemy. Early texts refer to the
two men who were crucified with Jesus as being "thieves."
This word can also mean "insurgents," those who
were suspected instruments of riot or revolution. Thus, if
Pilate was really cruller and also saw Jesus as a threat to
Roman order, then he likely carried out the sentence with
less hesitation. For just five years after Jesus' execution,
Pilate used cavalry to break up a large group around a prophet
in Samaria. He slaughtered such a large number of people that
he was called to Rome to justify his actions. -Newsweek
Did Judas really hang himself?
The New Testament contradicts itself regarding this occurrence.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, "So Judas threw the
money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged
himself." [Matthew 27:5] This
indicates that he returned the money to the temple and then
committed suicide. However, according to Luke in Acts 1:18,
"With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought
a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all
his intestines spilled out." This implies a more guiltless
Judas. Mel Gibson, using an amalgamation of the books from
the Bible, obviously chose the version from Matthew.
Did Jesus really carry the entire cross to Golgotha?
No. Contrary to the
film, Jesus most likely only carried the patibulum
(cross-arm). The stipe (upright portion) of the cross was
generally fixed securely into the ground prior to the arrival
of the condemned individual. This was still by no means an
easy task. The patibulum weighed around 110 pounds. -konnections.com
To see the site of Golgotha today, click
here. The familiar term for this site is Mount.
However, the use of this term did not start until the 4th
century, after the surrounding rock had been stripped away,
leaving the isolated rock of the Crucifixion, which stands
approximately six meters high. -christusrex.org
Why did Mel Gibson define Simon of Sirene heroically when
the Bible only depicts him as protesting against helping Jesus
carry the cross?
In the interview with Bill O'Reilly, Mel Gibson said the following
about his depiction of Simon, "He's in the Book as protesting.
He (Simon) didn't want to do it. He's saying, 'Hey, remember,
I'm not the criminal here. He (Jesus) is. I'm just helping
him.' And it's like the journey that we all have about choices
we have to make. I wanted to take that opportunity to take
this man, and have him have a burden put on him that he didn't
necessarily want but that he ended up taking and that he ended
up engaging with and that he ended up learning from and that
he transcended any kind of self-concern and became a true
hero. I think people have the capacity for that."
What do the Latin letters "INRI" on the top of
the cross mean?
The letters in the inscription "INRI" overtop of
Jesus on the cross are the Latin first letters to the phrase
"Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." -toad.net
How did Jesus die, and how much pain did he feel?
Medical examiner Dr. Frederick Zugibe examined Jesus' death
for the Trinity Pictures video "How
Jesus Died: The Final 18 Hours." First, as
Dr. Zugibe stated, the position of the body on the cross was
designed to make breathing very difficult, and as an individual's
time on the cross wore on, which could last several days,
one could eventually die from suffocation. Jesus' wounds from
his torture (the
film) however were much too severe to indicate
that he lasted that long. The nailing of the hands would most
likely pierce the median nerve. As Dr. Zugibe stated for the
video, this would cause a "severe, excruciating, burning
pain, like lightning bolts traversing the arm into the spinal
cord." Rupturing the foot's plantar nerve with a nail
would cause a similarly horrible pain. In the end, Dr. Zugibe
believes that Jesus died from shock due to loss of blood and
fluid, as well as traumatic shock from his injuries, plus
cardiogenic shock, which caused his heart to fail.
I heard that the spikes were hammered through Jesus' wrists
and not his hands, is this true?
Yes. Historical Roman accounts and experimental work have
provided evidence that the nails were hammered between the
two small bones of the wrists (radial and ulna) and
not through the palms. This is because the palms cannot support
the weight of the human body, and as a result the nails will
strip out between the fingers. Throughout history, artists
and sculptors have depicted the Crucifixion with the nails
through the hands. This may be because they have misunderstood
Jesus' words to Thomas, "Observe my hands." Ancient
anatomists considered the wrist to be part of the hand. Modern
anatomists still agree with this notion. In Mel Gibson's The
Passion of the Christ, we saw the spikes going through
Jesus' hands. However, in the
film Jesus' wrists were also attached to the patibulum
(the cross-arm) with rope. I can find no evidence of this
use of rope during the Crucifixion. It is more than likely
Gibson's way of explaining how spikes could be put through
the hands with the body's weight still supported, even though
the majority of the evidence points to the wrists. -konnections.com
Was the cross that Jesus was crucified on shaped like the
instead of the Christian cross symbol ()?
Yes. Archeological and historical evidence suggest that it
was the Tau Cross (shaped like the Greek letter "T")
upon which Jesus was crucified. 1st century Palestine Romans
commonly used the Tau Cross as an instrument of torture. The
popular Roman style cross that we see in Christian jewelry,
artwork, and sculptures did not come into Christian symbolism
until after the 1st century. -toad.net
When Jesus was on the cross was he really pierced with
a soldier's spear, causing the sudden release of a large amount
of blood and fluids?
Evidence of this appears in the New Testament, which reads,
"But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already
dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers
pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of
blood and water." [John 19:33-34] According to respected
physiologist Samuel Houghton, this helps to prove that Jesus
was already dead as the large amount of blood is strong evidence
of a cardiac rupture. -ChristianAnswers.net
Passion of the Christ Video Interviews:
Watch Jim Caviezel discuss the hardships he endured while making the movie.