The Passion of Mel Gibson

His Jesus film is bloody, bold--and in Aramaic. Here's an exclusive look

You may expect a certain tense solemnity when an Academy Award--winning director is shooting a film on the life and death of Jesus Christ. On the sound stage of The Passion in Rome's Cinecitta studio, the famed auteur prepares a scene for Maia Morgenstern, the Romanian actress playing the Virgin Mary. She is to enter the abandoned temple where her son has just been removed in chains on his way to Calvary. The director needs an enshrouding silence, so he shouts down some workmen's chatter. Then he coaxes the actress into a long, slow walk that hits the perfect notes of...

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