July 15, 2003--It looks set to be the most brutal and confrontational depiction of the story of Jesus's last days ever filmed.

The first trailer of Mel Gibson's controversial version of the final days of Christ, called The Passion, was released over the internet yesterday with explicit images. Gibson, who has not yet found a studio to release the film, is a devout Catholic and was determined to show fully the torture and painful death of Jesus. The creator of the bloody film about William Wallace, Braveheart, has not scrimped on the gore: scene after scene in the trailer, on numerous movie websites, feature a battered and bruised Jesus staggering through the streets of Jerusalem covered in blood. The film, which cost 15 million pounds and is solely in Aramaic and Latin, has caused controversy in the US, even before a single image has been released. In May, a group of Catholic and Jewish scholars wrote to Gibson and warned him that an early draft of the script would "promote anti- Semitic" sentiments. Gibson denied he or the film is anti-Semitic. However, the trailer demonstrates the film's brutal impact. It shows several scenes of Jim Caviezel, the actor who plays Jesus, being beaten brutally and whipped until his lacerated body is covered in blood. Another scene shows Pontius Pilate presenting the beaten Jesus to the crowd, and declaring "Ecce homo" - "Behold the man". There are also glimpses of Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdelene, Maia Morgenstern as Mary, Rosalinda Celentano as Satan, Judas being thrown his 30 pieces of silver and Jesus carrying the cross to Calvary. The trailer ends as Jesus cries from the cross: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani" - "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Gibson has said some people on the set of the film, shot in Italy, converted to Christianity through its making. "I really feel my career was leading me to make this," he said. "The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic." The film is due to be released next Easter and the trailer can be seen on the website, aint-it-cool-news.com.
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