'John' tells Gospel truth, word for word (GoErie.com - Erie Times News)
By RICHARD N. OSTLING
TORONTO � Mel Gibson take note: There's another new film about the life of Jesus that also depicts Jews' involvement in the events leading to the Crucifixion. But this one has several Jewish producers and has attracted much less controversy.
While Gibson's "The Passion" won't be released for months, Jewish and Christian commentators already are debating whether its gory treatment of Jesus' death will rouse anti-Semitism. By contrast, there's no advance acrimony surrounding "The Gospel of John," which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on a symbolically chosen Sept. 11.
"John" is a Canadian-British production made for $15 million, roughly half the cost of Gibson's film. It opens in four U.S. markets Sept. 26, then 75 others through the autumn, mostly in cinemas across the southeastern Bible Belt.
Gibson's movie, which he funded, co-wrote, produced and directed, puts all the dialogue into the ancient Aramaic and Latin languages. "John" has a different oddity. The script is in English but consists entirely of John's Gospel, word for word.
Garth Drabinsky, the Canadian producer who heavily shaped "John," is Jewish. He thinks John's Gospel, which most scholars believe was written around the end of the first century, is an inspirational masterpiece in which one of the themes is the conflict over Jesus among Jews.
In making the film, Drabinsky hired University of Toronto retiree Peter Richardson to enlist an advisory board of scholars consisting of five Protestants of varying views, a Roman Catholic sister and two Jews.
One of the Jewish scholars, Alan Segal of Barnard College, told a Toronto media preview that "it's a stunning and illuminating film." But Segal also acknowledged that, of the four Gospels, John is "the most Jewish in its subject matter, and the most anti-Jewish in its perception."
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