Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ has been labelled “seriously, damagingly, anti-Semitic” by the chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, Gerald Kaufman.
As British audiences prepare to view Gibson’s tale of the final hours of Christ’s life – it opens here on March 26 – Kaufman added his voice to the critical chorus from Jewish and some orthodox Catholic figures which greeted the film when it was first screened in the US.
Since then, the movie has gone on to gross more than $260m (£140m) in the US alone, topping the box office for several weeks in a row, but its popularity has clearly not dented its ability to cause offence among those who believe it wrongly blames the Jews for Christ’s murder. Kaufman told ITV Sunday: “What you are in for is sadism, gratuitous violence, ugliness, wallowing in blood and, it has to be said, crude anti-Semitism. That is what this movie is about.”
“I am not accusing him (Gibson) of being a deliberate and overt anti-Semite but there is no doubt that the message of the film is seriously, damagingly anti-Semitic.
“If this is the film that Mel Gibson has always wanted to make then so much the worse for Mel Gibson.”