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The name of film actor Mel Gibson is in the news. The star of action movies such as Mad Max and Braveheart has now written and directed a film which is being watched around the world. And it is a film with a big difference! Gibson has spent 12 years of his life making this film, and paid for it with his own money. The film he produced, called The Passion of the Christ, tells the story of the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ. The word 'passion' is used with an old meaning of 'suffering'. Although Gibson does not act in his own film (Jim Caviezel plays the part of Jesus), we do see Mel's own hand, using a hammer to nail Jesus to the wooden cross on which he died. Gibson did this to show that Jesus died because of the wrong things he had personally done, as well as those of everyone on Earth.

Everything in the film is as near as possible to the way it really happened. The film is spoken in two languages that were used in the time of Jesus: Aramaic and Latin. Subtitles are provided so that we can read what is being said. The film does not hide the terrible suffering of Jesus. There is so much blood and violence that many people close their eyes. "Making this film has been the most difficult thing I've ever done," Gibson says. "And watching it is not easy. It's difficult to look at, because Christ's passion was difficult. It somehow heals me to watch it. It's a strange thing. I've never experienced a film like it." How can death bring healing and life?

It seems a contradiction:
● Because Jesus was God, his perfect life was good enough to pay for everything we have done wrong – our sins.
● Because Jesus was also Man, he could die and receive this punishment instead of us. And he understands everything we feel and suffer.

What they say

People tell us how they feel after seeing the film:
● Connie found the film so powerful she cried through much of it. "Without Jesus' death, we have nothing. We have no forgiveness for our sins," she says.
● Whitby says the film was "the most emotional and life-changing two hours of my life."
● Casey writes, "My sins, your sins, they all killed Jesus Christ. I cried through the whole film, and became speechless."
● "In seeing the movie on Saturday, I realized that my life will be changed forever," says Tess.
● "Black African-Americans recognize him as 'their Jesus' – he was sold for money like a slave, and he was a God who let himself be beaten," says Charity.

Mel Gibson's life

Mel Gibson was born in USA in 1956, but has lived in Australia since the age of 12. He wanted to be a newspaper journalist, but then went to drama school. But he was so fearful of acting, that in his first play he had to act sitting down! His second film Mad Max, produced in Australia, made him a film-star. His films include Hamlet by Shakespeare, and Braveheart, the story of the Scottish people's fight against the English in 1344. For Braveheart he received an 'Oscar' award for best actor and director. Gibson is married with seven children. When he is filming, all the family goes with him to the film set.