Near the top of my list of Movies I Want to See But That Will Probably Never Be Made is Mel Gibsons film about Judah Maccabee , the Jewish warrior whose restoration of Jewish worship at the temple in Jerusalem is celebrated at feast of Hanukkah.
Gibson’s Icon Productions has closed the producing deal with Warner Bros., and Joe Eszterhas will write the screenplay. Gibson’s camp said the filmmaker will decide if he’s directing after the script is done and that he has not ruled out the possibility that he could act in the film.
Maccabee, his four brothers and his father led the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies. The role of his father, the priest Mattathias, might be a logical one for the 55-year-old Gibson if he does opt to appear in the film.
Maccabee is a figure who has fascinated Gibson for years, and at one point he considered this as a follow-up project to “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004. Gibson’s camp describes the film in terms that resonate with past Gibson projects, such as “Braveheart” or Roland Emmerich’s “The Patriot.”
History and religion are career cornerstones for Gibson the filmmaker. He wrote, produced and directed “The Passion of the Christ,” which became a global sensation and, with $612 million in worldwide box office, stands as the highest -grossing R-rated film of all time. The movie also set off an intense international debate as viewers walked away from the movie with very different messages.
Gibson is a deeply disturbed man who has a history of making anti-Semitic, racist, and misogynistic remarks. Not surprisingly, many Jewish leaders are outraged that Gibson is even being considered to portray their hero. As Rabbi Marvin Hier from Los Angeles Simon Wiesenthal Center says, Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting (Bernie) Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr. Its simply an insult to Jews.
Allowing Gibson to direct such a project would indeed be insensitive to the Jewish communitywhich is why it will likely never happen. It’s a real shame that Gibson became not only a despicable human being but a Hollywood pariah. He may be crazy but he can make some fascinatingly perverse religious-themed movies.
His most overtly religious film The Passion of the Christ was a horrid display of excess, an almost unwatchable film of graphic violence meant to shame the audience (which it does effectively). A few years later, though, Gibson made what is essentially a remake of the Passsion . Only this time he transferred it from Judea to the Yucatan and changed the title to Apocalypto . As economist Tyler Cowen says , [ Apocalypto ] is about theology; virtually frame-by-frame it is commentary on Passion of the Christ , the Bible, or both. The movies central question is what the idea of a miracle, or salvation, can mean in a non-Christian world. Another economist, Bryan Caplan, finds that the film parallels the Stations of the Cross (albeit in a very Islamic way).
Gibson may not be the most orthodox of believers, but he has a peculiar gift for depicting religious imagery.