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September 25, 2002
10:41 AM   Subscribe

Mel Gibson wants to do a movie on the last 12 hours of Jesus's life. The only issue? He wants to do it totally in Latin and Arameic without subtitles. A cool way for Hollywood to branch out from the norm, or artsy pretension from a rather boring actor? Time may tell. Seen also on AICN.
posted by Ufez Jones (55 comments total)

 
This is either a valiant filmaking endeavour or the biggest publicity stunt ever. Still can't decide which.
posted by PenDevil at 10:50 AM on September 25, 2002


I guess the three people who speak Arameic will enjoy it
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:50 AM on September 25, 2002


This is either a valiant filmaking endeavour or the biggest publicity stunt ever. Still can't decide which.

Those are exactly my feelings, PenDevil. That's why I wanted to get a reaction from the folks here.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2002


I wish Signs was in another ancient language. Maybe I wouldn't have noticed the wooden acting. (Not that he directed.)
Does that mean the Christ's last 12 hours on the cross or when he came back for his keys?
posted by funkuncle at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2002


I'm excited. Note Gibson's use of the phrase "filmic storytelling."
posted by bingo at 10:56 AM on September 25, 2002


I wish Signs was in another ancient language. Maybe I wouldn't have noticed the wooden acting. (Not that he directed.)
Does that mean Christ's last 12 hours on the cross or when he came back for his car keys?
posted by funkuncle at 10:57 AM on September 25, 2002


While I think Mel Gibson is indeed genuine in his desire to produce what he views as compelling movies, I also believe that his end products ultimately lack a certain depth (which is not to say that I didn't enjoy Braveheart as entertainment a great deal). Personally, I doubt I'd watch a 2-hour(?) movie spoken completely in Latin, although I wouldn't rule it out completely. That being said, I applaud Gibson for his efforts in general and welcome productions such as these, especially when compared with standard Hollywood fare such as Rush Hour 2.
posted by mathis23 at 11:00 AM on September 25, 2002


It's not likely that this is a 'Cool way for Hollywood to branch out' since Mel hasn't found an American studio that will touch this with a 10 foot pole.

Also, he said that he'd subtitle it if he didn't succeed in his 'filmic storytelling.'
posted by maniactown at 11:04 AM on September 25, 2002


I guess the three people who speak Arameic will enjoy it

Actually quite a few Jewish biblical documents (like the Scroll of Esther, which details the festival of Purim) are written in Aramaic. But I can't see many Yeshiva students rushing off to go see this particular film!
posted by PenDevil at 11:05 AM on September 25, 2002


Personally, I doubt I'd watch a 2-hour(?) movie spoken completely in Latin, although I wouldn't rule it out completely.

It's more likely to be 'completely in Aramaic', since that's what yer Jesus and his mates were speaking outside of the synagogue. Latin's left for Pontius the Pilot and Roman Guard 1. I think they should do it like Allo, Allo!, and have all the actors do bad Aramaic and Latin accents to let the audience know what language they're meant to be speaking at the time. ('Good moaning.') But since we've no idea what an Aramaic or a Latin accent sounded like... well, you're in Life of Brian territory.

For sure, though, it'd piss off the fundamentalists in the US who think that Jesus spoke King James English with a slight southern twang. And I'm sure the Chaldeans in Iraq will flock to see it, as long as they don't get bombed en route to liberation.
posted by riviera at 11:19 AM on September 25, 2002


Wow - that's interesting and bold. Not necessarily marketable but interesting nonetheless. I would probably go to see it just for the Latin - I hate to see languges die out.

I wonder if they would use a strict classical Latin, or if they might try to make it a bit more relevant to today's viewers? Hey Mel: estne volumen in toga, an olum tibi libet me videre?
posted by madamjujujive at 11:21 AM on September 25, 2002


I don't know, Braveheart is not an exercise in subtlety, and maybe his deformed guy movie was a baby step in that direction, but still, he's no arthouse film director
It will be a pretty cheap production anyway, so, it's no big deal. As Mathis said, it can't be much worse (or more boring) than your average, brainless popcorn Hollywood prepackaged blockbuster.
Maybe it's a kind of a personal project with some sincerity in it (I've read somewhere that Gibson's a devout Christian). The Last Temptation of Christ is not one of Scorsese's best movies, so it's a VERY difficult topic. If Martin can't do it Mel will probably suck at it, but again, this is probably good news
Better than Lethal Weapon 6
posted by matteo at 11:24 AM on September 25, 2002


And, I hope that this time they won't give us the average Aryan, blond and blue eyed Jesus, but a more, er, ethnic looking, realistic guy -- very few Swedes in Palestine (er, Israel...) 2,000 years ago
posted by matteo at 11:28 AM on September 25, 2002


I have two words for Mr. Gibson: William Shatner.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:31 AM on September 25, 2002


While I agree it's not Martin's best movie it is the best movie about Christ. At least one of the few that doesn't treat him with the depth usually reserved for aquaman.
posted by funkuncle at 11:32 AM on September 25, 2002


They think I'm insane! Maybe I am!
posted by mikrophon at 11:32 AM on September 25, 2002


Perehaps we will get one of those Defense attorny appeal to governor for stay of execution; people protest death penalty; witnesses line up to watch sentence carried out etc.
I would learn Aramaic to see the film, but why not in pig Latin: we all learned that as kids.
posted by Postroad at 11:33 AM on September 25, 2002


The Guardian's 'Pass Notes' covered this today:

"Sciens Iesus quia venit eius hora ut transeat ex hoc mundo ad Patrem ...
Are you from Birkenhead? "


Fantastic.
posted by feelinglistless at 11:35 AM on September 25, 2002


Well, I hope that if he moves forward with this that Gibson will be looking at the great silent dramas of Fritz Lang, Allan Dwan, Raoul Walsh, D.W. Griffith, etc.

If you have a movie where the intention is that nobody watching will understand a word of what is said, you are essentially taking the actors back to a different age and style of acting.

Meaning and story will have to be conveyed through movement, not text. Personally, I would love to see the attempt, even if it fails in the end.

Dwan spoke often of the perfect silent film being one in which no title cards were needed. If Gibson fails and starts to think subtitles are needed, I hope he considers a few well placed title cards rather than full subtitling.
posted by obfusciatrist at 11:35 AM on September 25, 2002


I'd probably go to see it. I don't know if I could stay awake or follow the story, but that's never a guarantee at a Mel Gibson flick anyway.

"Note Gibson's use of the phrase 'filmic storytelling.'"

Note to self: Add Gibson, Mel to the official list of pretentious fuckwits.

Just kidding, bingo.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:37 AM on September 25, 2002


But Gibson, who turned down Martin Scorsese's offer of playing Jesus, has once again shied away from the role, giving it to Jim Caviezel, star of The Count of Monte Cristo and High Crimes.

Well, not blond and not blue eyed, but brunet and green eyed.

With subtitles it could be interesting. Without it just seems like a filmic storytelling masturbation session.
posted by witchstone at 11:46 AM on September 25, 2002


I guess the three people who speak Arameic will enjoy it

make it 4. a swedish-born friend of mine speaks aramaic as her first language. she comes from this community. and, she likes mel gibson.
posted by bokononito at 11:50 AM on September 25, 2002


it is the best movie about Christ.

What about Pasolini, man
posted by matteo at 11:54 AM on September 25, 2002


i can just see Mel getting good and drunk at some annual film maker's picnic, turning to Soderbergh or Scorsese and saying, "I saved Latin. What did you ever do?"
posted by brigita at 11:59 AM on September 25, 2002


it's kind of retarded that they're so horned up on the linguistic authenticity while they continue to cling to totally bogus notions of the big j's ethnicity. barf.

plus, mel gibson in braveheart mode? projectile barf.
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:02 PM on September 25, 2002


The soundtrack would sweep the Latin Grammy Awards.
posted by skimble at 12:04 PM on September 25, 2002


pendevil: i'm pretty sure that the purim megillah is written in hebrew, though there are certainly some aramaic proper names and such. a better example might be the kaddish prayer from daily observances and mourning rituals.

speaking as someone who's studied both latin & aramaic, i can't imagine watching a film in either, let alone both.
posted by judith at 12:06 PM on September 25, 2002


But the New Testament, guys, is koine dialektos
posted by matteo at 12:20 PM on September 25, 2002


It's easy to hate Mel, but haven't you guys seen Gallipoli ? It's a great movie. Admittedly it's the last good one he made. . .
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 12:27 PM on September 25, 2002


I vote for pretentious. But I like that in a movie.
posted by hippugeek at 12:34 PM on September 25, 2002


Matteo, the New Testament was written long after Jesus' time. Making the movie in Koine would be like making it in King James English.
posted by oissubke at 12:36 PM on September 25, 2002


Meaning and story will have to be conveyed through movement, not text.

i completely agree. try to think of it as if you were deaf. i have a friend who loves to watch movies, but she's never heard a single line of dialogue. sometimes she uses subtitles or closed-captioning but if the story is well told visually (as a movie should be) she can completely follow along without the dialogue. it'd be interesting to see how audiences react to a similar situation of not following the dialogue.
posted by dogwalker at 12:40 PM on September 25, 2002


I know oissbuke, but the Book is koine, if you adapt it into a screenplay and change the original language, well, it's weird

Also, Franco Zeffirelli made an average, HBO-like tv miniseries in the 70's about Jesus, Anthony Burgess and Suso Cecchi D'Amico (Luchino Visconti's screenwriter) did a very elegant linguistic job in translating the koine original
posted by matteo at 12:43 PM on September 25, 2002


Gallipoli ?

Even better? - Attack Force Z! (sorry! - loved it in 8th grade...)
posted by jalexei at 1:02 PM on September 25, 2002


The section of the gospel that Gibson plans to present is often referred to as The Passion of Christ. Passion plays are common in many christian communities. The Passionspeil in Oberommergau, Germany is quite famous, well attended, and while there is music, the players are silent. And at the end of every decade, people from around the world flock to Bavaria to see it. My point being that there is a sizable audience who may know this story best without words. I think they would be jazzed to see the passion with " authentic " dialogue.
posted by putzface_dickman at 1:08 PM on September 25, 2002


What a cheesy gimmick. Can't he do more with the Christ Myth? Last Tempation was a good attempt at not just rehashing the gospel. How about setting it in the Roman Empire in 3000 AD? Narrated from the perspective of a local pagan/pan-theist from the time. Done in the first person, etc.

There's just so much you can do with myth than just do away with words.
posted by skallas at 1:09 PM on September 25, 2002


That's not "last 12 hours" in real-time, is it? Lordy!
posted by me3dia at 1:15 PM on September 25, 2002


Frankly, I think it will be interesting to see. I was sucked into Koyaanisqatsi and Powaaqatsi and neither had a word of dialogue.

Of course, while I do like Mel's work, I don't think he is quite a Godfrey Reggio. And I suppose some folks hated the Phillip Glass soundtrack, but hey... I liked it.

Uh...what were we talking about again?
posted by FilmMaker at 1:16 PM on September 25, 2002


Normally, I'm agin' making more movies that propagate this ridiculous myth, but I think seeing this might be interesting.
posted by interrobang at 1:24 PM on September 25, 2002


a filmic storytelling masturbation session.

Now that I would pay to see.
posted by goethean at 1:25 PM on September 25, 2002


"They may take our loaves, but they'll never take....OUR FISHES!"
posted by ColdChef at 1:32 PM on September 25, 2002


Did it occur to anyone else that this is Hollywood opera? Foreign language, well known mythical story, powerful even if you understand only the emotional overtones and actions of those on stage?
posted by whatzit at 1:50 PM on September 25, 2002


That's not "last 12 hours" in real-time, is it? Lordy!

Well maybe it's like "24" but half of it and less than a quarter interesting. Go see The Last Temptation of Christ and get a more balanced perspective imho. At least you won't need subtitles; though of course you could paste Aramaic and Latin ones on the screen if you really have the time :) But if that involves too many bits of paper and scissors then just get a proper Latin dictionary and try to translate it for yourself....eek I'm rambling :)
posted by fsimeta at 2:07 PM on September 25, 2002


it does seem rather a lofty goal for Mel. I agree that he isn't the most subtle of directors - and this seems to be a job for a more 'artsy' director. Imagine what David Lynch could do with this... But hey, nothing wrong with reaching for a higher goal - power to Mel for trying.
posted by foxglove at 2:27 PM on September 25, 2002


Did it occur to anyone else that this is Hollywood opera?

Yeah, I thought of that--but with opera you have the music. I can't say for sure, but I doubt that Latin & Aramaic are as beautiful to listen to as, say, Don Giovanni.
posted by witchstone at 2:38 PM on September 25, 2002


I can see making the movie in the original language. I actually respect that, if it's going to be done well and tastefully and sans anachronism. But I cannot figure out why they would want to do it without subtitles..

Hello? McFly? Does anyone have any theories about this? Administrator please hope me!
posted by Hildago at 2:48 PM on September 25, 2002


Also, with opera these days you also tend to get translastions - either above the stage or to the side, or in one theater I've heard of on a screen attached to the seat in front of you.
posted by dnash at 2:49 PM on September 25, 2002


well, the eye color is off, but the rest looks pretty close..."jesus: the complete story"
posted by bluefish at 3:15 PM on September 25, 2002


I wish Signs was in another ancient language. Maybe I wouldn't have noticed the wooden acting. (Not that he directed.)
Does that mean Christ's last 12 hours on the cross or when he came back for his car keys?
posted by Espoo2 at 3:41 PM on September 25, 2002


funkuncle: I wish Signs was in another ancient language. Maybe I wouldn't have noticed the wooden acting. (Not that he directed.)
Does that mean the Christ's last 12 hours on the cross or when he came back for his keys?


I wish Signs was in another ancient language. Maybe I wouldn't have noticed the wooden acting. (Not that he directed.)
Does that mean the Christ's last 12 hours on the cross or when he came back for his keys?
posted by eddydamascene at 3:47 PM on September 25, 2002


How about the three of you (funkuncle, Espoo2, and eddydamascene) get together and decide whether it's keys or car keys and update us all on the final consensus. I'm betting it's the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, but I could be wrong.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:24 PM on September 25, 2002


Espoo2 made a mistake in the transcription. Aramaic was his first language.
[/derail]
posted by eddydamascene at 5:02 PM on September 25, 2002


As has been noted elsewhere, this could be the first film with a script in a dead language since Derek Jarman's once-controversial movie Sebastiane.
posted by misteraitch at 12:07 AM on September 26, 2002


Actually, it'd have to be four languages: Aramaic, Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. Jesus & Co. spoke Aramaic when they were out and about, but any Scriptural references he made would doubtless have been in Hebrew. It's possible that you would have heard Pilate et al speaking Latin, but equally possible that you would have heard them speaking Greek, as it was the preferred language for civil administration in Judea and in Asia Minor. The Gospels were written in Greek because their authors and primary audience (Gentiles) were mostly Greek-speaking.
posted by vraxoin at 9:12 AM on September 26, 2002


Pendevil: Judith is right about Esther. The oldest version we have access to was written in Hebrew, and another influential version is in Greek.
posted by bingo at 11:28 AM on September 26, 2002


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