Mel Gibson’s plans to create a film about the famous Jewish Maccabee rebellion entitled “The Maccabees” hit disaster this week. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas released a nine page letter to the media detailing his thoughts and proposed conversations with Mel Gibson which included accusing Mel Gibson of being anti-Semitic and constructing The Maccabees script purely to redeem his career and mend relations with against long standing Jewish criticisms.
New York Daily News reports that Gibson plans to go ahead with the project despite the screenwriter’s unloading a host of anti-Semitic remarks that he attributes to Gibson. For the record, Gibson denies making such remarks.
The Macabees film now represents the second Jewish tribute film Mel Gibson has crafted but has run into a wall. The first Jewish tribute film was Gibson’s plan back in 2005 to do a mini-series on the true story of a Jewish girl named Flory Van Beek who survived the Holocaust. Flory had a boyfriend who protected her form the Nazi’s. The film was supposed to be called “Flory”.
If Gibson moves ahead as the media reports, then this would likely be the highest risk movie I can think of in my history of following film. It would seem more appropriate for Gibson to make peace with the Jewish community before the film as opposed to making peace with a film. I hold out hope that Gibson can have a Braveheart-like moment of courage to do the right thing and reach out and work towards reconciliation in a way that is honest and unique to everyone involved. I hold hope not because he is a celebrity and different than any of us, but rather because he is a celebrity which means the whole world is watching what he is doing — whether we wish it or not. What Gibson does next helps transmit to others how we humans should (or should not ) relate to one another.
P.S. I wish Hollywood would do more Jewish historical films that were before the Holocaust. There is a rich story to be told with real-life heroes even to rival the fictional ones we see on the screen. I hope their story will be told.
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