Mel Gibson’s controversial new movie sparks controversy, obviously

Which filmmakers would you trust with the tale of heroic Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee? If you said ‘Mel Gibson‘ and ‘Showgirls screenwriter Joe Eszterhas’, you are either a) completely unaware of scandalous current events or b) a nutty go-for-broke studio mogul attempting a Producersstyle scam of floptastic proportions. And if B is the case, we salute you!

Of course, Gibson and Eszterhas are actually making a film about the life of Maccabee, who led the Judean revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies in 166 BC (Eszterhas is writing the script, while Gibson is producing with an eye to direct for Warner Bros).

It was expected Gibson’s involvement in the project would spark outrage from the Jewish community, who haven’t been too fond of the Oscar winner lately (if his questionable depiction of Jews in The Passion of the Christ didn’t do it, his drunken, anti-Semitic tirade in 2006 should have sealed the deal).

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of Jewish leaders have spoken out against the film.

National Director of the Anti Defamation League Abraham Foxman said, “It would be a travesty to have his story told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people’s religious views’.

Rabbi Marvin Hier echoed Foxman’s feelings, but with a sense of humour: “Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of ‘Judah Maccabee’ is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.” Oh, snap!

Meanwhile, author Jeffrey Goldberg – who is writing a book on Maccabee – has shared some excerpts from an interview he conducted with Gibson a few years ago. (The recommendation came from famed atheist Christopher Hitchens, who knew Gibson was intrigued by the story, and who told Goldberg he “must go to Los Angeles and stop him”.

From the interview, we glimpse reasons why Mel would want to adapt it for the screen.

“The armies they faced had elephants! How cinematic is this!”

There is much more – including Gibson’s attempt to improvise some narration for the film’s trailer and a joke about circumcision – here.

Discuss: Should Gibson step away respectfully?

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