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The Passion of the Christ (2004) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1)  | Spoilers (6)
Jim Caviezel experienced a shoulder separation when the 150lb cross dropped on his shoulder. The scene is still in the movie.
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In interviews with Newsweek magazine and several other media, Jim Caviezel spoke about the difficulties he experienced while filming. This included being accidentally whipped twice, which has left a 14-inch scar on his back, and dislocating his shoulder from the weight of the cross. Caviezel also admitted he was struck by lightning while filming the Sermon on the Mount and during the crucifixion. His hair actually caught fire from this, but he was otherwise miraculously unharmed. The scenes of him hanging on the cross in the dead of Italian winter (with temperatures of 25°F/-4°C and 30-knot winds) caused him to contract hypothermia and pneumonia. Finally, because make-up was used to create a swollen eye, his lack of depth perception gave him migraine headaches.
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This is the highest grossing foreign language film or subtitled film in U.S. box office history. It is also the highest grossing religious film in the worldwide box office of all time.
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In one scene while hanging on the cross, Jim Caviezel can be seen to have a blue coloration of the skin. This was not a special effect, but due to asphyxiation, which is believed to be the typical cause of death for crucified victims. Prolonged suspension by the arms in this position may cause severe extension of the chest muscles and lungs, which makes breathing very difficult and causes slow suffocation. Victims would usually survive as long as they were able to pull themselves up by the arms, but exhaustion inevitably ensued. A foot rest (as depicted in the movie) was sometimes placed to relieve the arms, but ironically, this also served to prolong the agony. Most scholars agree that crucified people probably died from a combination of suffocation, heart failure, exposure, dehydration, lung embolism, or sepsis from infected wounds endured from the nails or the flogging preceding it.
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According to Mel Gibson, the long shot of Jesus lying in Mary's arms after having been taken from the cross, was greatly inspired by Michelangelo's famous statue "La Pietà," a work of art that inspired many other depictions of this scene.
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When this Latin and Aramaic language film was announced, Mel Gibson stated that his intent was to release it without subtitles, letting the performances speak for themselves. However, subtitles were added later. Also, he stated that regardless of the cost of the project, that this would be "good for the soul".
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This film had more pre-ticket sales than any other film in history until the Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) presales beat it.
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It would usually take over 10 hours to put Jim Caviezel into the scourged makeup. On some of those days, it would happen that the weather conditions turned out to be unsuitable for filming. To avoid spending more hours to have it removed and re-applied the next day, he kept it on and went to bed in full make-up.
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During the scourging scene, Jim Caviezel accidentally got whipped twice. A whipping post that would take the blows was set up behind him so that the camera wouldn't pick it up, but one of the actors accidentally missed it and hit Caviezel instead. The first time it hurt so much that it knocked the wind out of him, with Caviezel stating that "I may be playing Jesus, but I felt like Satan at that moment", causing him to curse out in pain at the other actor. The second time it caused him to wrench his hand quickly from his shackles, scraping his wrist badly. The remainder of the scourging scenes were finished by using visual effects: the actors playing Roman soldiers held sticks without the leather tails, and acted out the whipping motion, while Caviezel would react as if hit. The tails were later digitally composited into the shots. Make-up wounds on Caviezel's body were digitally covered until the actual hit by the whip, creating the illusion that they suddenly appeared.
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According to Caleb Deschanel, the majority of the movie was shot with a speed above the normal 24 frames per second. This created a sense of relative 'slow motion' in most scenes, which gave the performances and events more weight and drama.
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The name of the Roman soldier who pierced Christ with a spear is Cassius, as we heard Abenader shout his name when giving him a spear. This is a reference to the Catholic tradition that the name of the soldier who pierced Christ's side was Cassius Longinus, who was later believed to convert to Christianity and is venerated in Roman Catholicism as a saint.
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When Jesus speaks the words "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" as he looks up to the sky, his pupils dilate. This is a common sign of death, as all the muscles in one's body relax completely.
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Mel Gibson had a Canadian priest, Fr. Stephen Somerville, celebrate the Traditional Roman Catholic Latin Mass of the Apostolic Rite for the film crew each day before production began.
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A new type of fake blood with added viscosity was developed for Jesus' scourging makeup. It contained red dyes suspended in glycerin, fatty gums, and a stabilizing base. It had to be rubbed off with alcohol, and made Jim Caviezel's skin smell very sweet for days afterward.
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The film begins without opening credits. The title of the film is stated only in the closing.
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Jim Caviezel was given a prosthetic nose and a raised hairline. His blue eyes were digitally changed to brown on film.
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According to Mel Gibson, Maia Morgenstern, who played Mary, was pregnant during the shoot. She didn't tell anyone, until one day she approached Jim Caviezel and said in broken English and a thick Romanian accent, "I have baby. In stomach."
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The figure of Christ during the crucifixion is actually Jim Caviezel in many scenes. The movie's make-up effects creator/producer Keith VanderLaan also forged an articulated, rubber stand-in for Caviezel that even made breathing motions, who could be suspended on the cross for certain wide shots to allow the actor some physical relief, and for some dangerous shots (such as the turning of the cross).
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Rated #1 of the 25 most controversial movies of all time. Entertainment Weekly, 16 June 2006.
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In a rarity for Hollywood releases, re-entered the #1 spot at the box office for the weekend of Good Friday, 2004.
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Contrary to popular rumor, Malaysia did not ban the film. The Malaysian government allowed Christians to see it, and only Christian churches could sell tickets.
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Assistant director Jan Michelini was also hit by lightning during filming in Italy, five minutes after Jim Caviezel had been hit. Michelini had also been struck by lightning earlier in production while holding an umbrella, but only suffered some finger burns from that.
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Jim Caviezel is the only American in the cast.
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The film was banned in Kuwait and Bahrain for religious reasons. Islam forbids visual depictions of a prophet, and considers Jesus a prophet.
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Because of their experiences during film production, many of the cast and filming crew converted to Catholicism after the completion of the film. Among those who converted were Luca Lionello, a self-proclaimed "angry atheist" who played Judas Iscariot, and one Muslim actor who played one of the torturing guards.
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Originally, the second confrontation between Pilate and the Sanhedrin included a line where the Sanhedrin say, "His blood be on our heads and on the heads of our children!" Although this line comes from the Gospels, Mel Gibson removed the subtitle of the line to avoid further allegations of the movie having an anti-Semitic message. The actual line in Aramaic was left in the movie.
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During production the film was originally supposed to be titled simply "The Passion". However in October 2003, it was revealed the Miramax studios already had a movie in production with that title (though it was ultimately never used). Mel Gibson retitled the film "The Passion of Christ". He retitled it yet again a month later in November 2003 to "The Passion of the Christ".
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This was the highest-grossing rated R film in US box office history earning $370 million.
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Mel Gibson originally opted to not use a musical score for the film.
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It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
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Jim Caviezel later claimed that director Mel Gibson tried to talk him out of accepting the role of Christ immediately after offering it to him, implying that it would be difficult to get other roles afterwards. Caviezel told Gibson that it was his cross to bear, but has admitted that Hollywood has largely avoided casting him since.
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While the characters of the film mostly speak Latin and Aramaic, Hebrew is spoken a few times: The gathering of the Sanhedrin (Jewish chief Rabbis), Simon of Cyrene speaking, and the woman who gave water to Jesus on his way to Golgotha.
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The guards who scourge and beat Christ speak a very crude Latin, which indicates that they are not Romans but 'Auxilia', soldiers recruited from territories annexed by or under indirect rule of the Roman Empire.
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Maia Morgenstern, who plays Mary (mother of Jesus), is only six years older than Jim Caviezel.
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In first century AD, Hebrew Priest Josephus points out that Aramaic (the language used in this film) was a widespread language and "understood accurately" by Parthians, Babylonians, the remotest Arabians, and those of his nation beyond Euphrates with Adiabeni (Jewish Wars, Preface). Josephus differentiates Hebrew from both his language and the language of the first century Israel which is Aramaic. Josephus calls Hebrew as Hebrew tongue while he calls Aramaic as "our tongue" or "our language" in both of his works - Jewish Wars and Antiquities of Jews. This is also agreed by Yigael Yadin who points out that Aramaic was the lingua franca of this time period (Source - Yadin's Book "Bar Kokhba: The rediscovery of the legendary hero of the last Jewish Revolt Against Imperial Rome" Page 234). Unlike Hebrew Priest Josephus and other Hebrew priests at Jerusalem, the people of first century Israel had no knowledge of Hebrew. That is why whenever the apostles say Hebrew in New testament (John 19:13, John 19:17, etc.), the word comes up is transliteration of an Aramaic word.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Mel Gibson's first writing credit.
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The Bible verse from Isaiah 53:5 which appeared in the beginning of the film ("He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by His wounds we are healed") is abbreviated. Here is the full verse for those who are not familiar with the Bible: "But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed." (ESV).
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(at around 41:00) The initial interview scene between Pilate and Jesus contains a neat linguistic Easter Egg that most viewers may not notice. But Hebrew or Latin speakers will recognize that after Pilate asks Jesus in Aramaic if he is king of the Jews, Jesus answers him in fluent Latin (translated as "Does this question come from you"). The look of surprise on Pilate's face thus makes perfect sense - few if any of his subjects speak Latin. From this point forward, their conversation continues in Latin.
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The Catholic priest and scholar consulted by director, Mel Gibson, in the depiction of almost every scene, was Father John Bartunek, L.C. He wrote an authorized, behind-the-scenes book about the film called, "Inside the Passion: An Insider's Look at the Passion of the Christ." The Foreword to this book was written by Mel Gibson.
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Mel Gibson has stated that he will give $100 million of the film's gross to the Traditional Catholic Movement.
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Despite receiving three Academy award nominations (Best Music, Cinematography and Make-up), the film could not be submitted for Best Foreign Language Film. Academy rules state that foreign movies are eligible only when produced outside the USA and spoken predominantly in a language other than English. Although the film met the second criterion, it was produced by Icon Productions, an American company.
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The first names of actors Hristo Shopov (Pontius Pilate) and Christo Jivkov (Apostle John) are variations of the name Christ.
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Was voted the most pro-Catholic film of all time by readers of Faith & Family magazine and the National Catholic Register newspaper. It received more votes from readers than the next three films on the list combined: The Sound of Music (1965), A Man for All Seasons (1966), and The Song of Bernadette (1943).
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On the first day of general release, Ash Wednesday, Peggy Scott, a 56-year-old advertising sales manager from Wichita, Kansas collapsed of apparent heart failure while watching the crucifixion scene. She later died at the hospital.
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That's the last movie that former Iraq president Saddam Hussein watched in his cell,, in December 2006, shortly before his execution, on a DVD player which his GI's soldiers, who were kept him under custody, permitted him to see. Saddam Hussein kept smooth relationship with his guards. He told them that he was amazed and shocked by the cruelty of this movie, he added that Iraqi people who would never had treated Jesus this way.
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In this film, Jesus Christ (Yeshua Meshikha in Aramaic) calls Peter "Kaypha" which means stone in Aramaic. The name "Peter" comes from Greek name "petros" which is the translation of Aramaic word "Kaypha." In New Testament English Bible, Kaypha is written as Cephas in John 1:42, Galatians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and other verses in the Bible.
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It also draws on pious accounts such as the Friday of Sorrows along with other devotional writings, such as the reputed Marian apparitions attributed to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich.
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The Mexican release was moved from March 25 to March 19 because pirate copies were available a few days after it premiered in the USA.
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The line mentioned by Jesus to High Priest Caiaphas and others in this film - "I AM and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven." comes from Mark 14:62. This is also a reference to Jeremiah 4:13 where it says "Behold, he (God) shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled." This is interesting to note, because Elijah was taken by a chariot of fire in 2 Kings 2:11-12 and Elijah being taken by a chariot is also mentioned by Annas the priest in this film. Right before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (which was prophesied by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21), chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. This incident was recorded by Josephus in Jewish Wars (Book Six), Tacitus in Histories (Book 5), Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (Book 3), and Jewish History Document "Sepher Yosippon" (Chapter 87 - Burning of the temple) written in Hebrew. God and his chariots are also mentioned in Isaiah 66:15, 2 Kings 6:17, Zachariah 6:1-6, and other verses in the bible. It must be noted that God is called "Lord of Hosts" more than 275 times in the bible. In New Testament, God is called "Lord of Hosts" in Romans 9:29 and in James 5:4.
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This was the highest grossing R-rated film at the worldwide box office until it was beaten by Deadpool (2016).
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Just like Aramaic spoken by Hebrews in this film, the native language of Abraham and his family was also Aramaic. Abraham lived in Haran (Aramaic speaking region) till the age of 75 when he and his family moved to Canaan (Genesis 12:4-5). The relatives of Abraham in Aramaic speaking regions also spoke Aramaic. For Example, Laban the Aramean called "Witness heap" as "Jegar Sahadutha" which is Aramaic (Genesis 31:47).
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The seven major film studios: 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, and Warner Bros. all refused to finance the film due to its controversial subject matter.
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Aramaic was the most used language spoken by the Hebrews in this film. Aramaic was the language of the Jews in Israel during first century AD. "Bar"tholomew, "Bar"abbas, "Bar"nabbas, "Bar" Jesus, Simon "Bar" Jonas, "Bar"sabbas, and "Bar"timaeus are examples of names in the New Testament which use the Aramaic word Bar meaning 'Son' rather than Ben in Hebrew. When Jews say "Hebrew" in New Testament, they were referring to their Hebrew tongue which was Aramaic in first century AD. "Golgotha" in John 19:17 is a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic word. In Hebrew, Golgotha will become 'Ha Gulgoleth'.
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Certain information was derived from the supposed visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich.
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In the Philippines, it has been rated PG-13 (Parental Guidance 13) by the MTRCB.
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Luca Lionello, who plays apostle Judas Iscariot, would later play apostle Thomas in Mary (2005).
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This made back its $30 million budget in just two days of release.
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A year after the film's initial release, a "toned-down" version retitled as "The Passion Recut" was released. Though some of the more graphic elements were removed, the MPAA still assigned the movie an "R" rating - so the version was distributed to theaters as "unrated".
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The music for the 1st trailer, released in 2003, is from the score Peter Gabriel composed for the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). The specific track is titled "Running to the Rain."
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Rumors circulated that James Horner was interested in composing the music for this film. Later on, female composers such as Lisa Gerrard and Rachel Portman were in talks, and Portman did indeed have the job until her pregnancy caused her to bow out gracefully. John Debney took the job in the end.
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Jim Caviezel got struck by lightning twice during the making of this film.
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Although some Hebrew words are used in this film, Hebrew was never the spoken language of first century Israel. According to Dead Sea Scrolls archaeologist Yigael Yadin, Aramaic was the spoken language of Hebrews until Simon Bar Kokhba tried to revive Hebrew and make it the official language of Jews during Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 AD). On page 181 of "Bar Kokhba: The Rediscovery of the Legendary Hero of the Last Jewish Revolt Against Imperial Rome," Yadin notes, "It is interesting that the earlier documents are written in Aramaic while the later ones are in Hebrew. Possibly the change was made by a special decree of Bar-Kokhba who wanted to restore Hebrew as the official language of the state." In "A Roadmap to the Heavens: An Anthropological Study of Hegemony among Priests, Sages, and Laymen (Judaism and Jewish Life)" by Sigalit Ben-Zion (Page 155), Yadin said: "it seems that this change came as a result of the order that was given by Bar Kokhba, who wanted to revive the Hebrew language and make it the official language of the state." In "Naming the Witch: Magic, Ideology, and Stereotype in the Ancient World" by Kimberly B. Stratton (p. 232), Yigael Yadin suggests that Bar Kokhba was trying to revive Hebrew by decree as part of his messianic ideology.
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Western Christian Traditions believe that Jesus spoke Greek, and New Testament was written in Greek. Several Christian traditions in the Middle East and South India believe that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and New Testament is written in Aramaic.
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Just like in this film, the language of Jesus Christ and the people of first century Israel was Aramaic. They had no knowledge of Hebrew. Only Hebrew priests and Hebrew religious leaders at Jerusalem had any knowledge of Hebrew. That is why Apostle Paul (who studied at Jerusalem under Rabbi Gamaliel and also worked under Jerusalem administration - Acts 22:3-5) had to translate the meaning of Hebrew name "Melchizedek" for Hebrews since Hebrews had no knowledge of Hebrew in first century AD (Hebrews 7:2).
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Just like we see in the film, Hebrews (a.k.a Judeans) did not speak Greek in first century Israel. This is confirmed by Hebrew Historian Flavius Josephus who wrote: "I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness; for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment as common, not only to all sorts of free-men, but to as many of the servants as please to learn them. But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws, and is able to interpret their meaning; on which account, as there have been many who have done their endeavors with great patience to obtain this learning, there have yet hardly been so many as two or three that have succeeded therein, who were immediately well rewarded for their pains." - Antiquities of Judeans XX, XI. In Judean Wars (Book 1, Preface, Paragraph 1), Josephus states this - "I have proposed to myself, for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans, to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed in the language of our country, and sent to the Upper Barbarians. Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, [am the author of this work]." In Antiquities of Judeans Book 3, Josephus points out that Hebrews called Pentecost "Asartha." Asartha is Aramaic, because Aramaic places Aramaic definite article "tha" at the end of a feminine noun in an emphatic state. If "Asartha" is translated into Hebrew, then it will become "Ha Atzeret." Unlike Aramaic, Hebrew places the definite article ("Ha") at the beginning of a word. Josephus' above testimony is also supported by Old Testament where Nehemiah the Governor was angry with Hebrews (aka Judeans) and cursed Hebrews when they abandoned their language and their culture in favor of the cultures and the languages of Ashdod, Moabites, and Ammonites (Nehemiah 13:23-26).
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To handle the film's unprecedented church outreach campaign, Icon Productions contacted producer Mark W. Koch, who was nearly homeless following lawsuits over a stunt injury on the set of Black Dog (1998). With this commission, Koch was able to re-launch his company Prelude Pictures, this time as a largely faith-based outfit, to organize the effort.
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The film primarily covers the final twelve hours of Jesus' life, beginning with the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the insomnia and grievance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the brutal scourge and crucifixion, ending with a brief depiction of his resurrection.
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This is the second movie which Jim Caviezel, Francesco De Vito, and Hristo Shopov act in together. The first film the three act in is I Am David (2003), which came out a year before The Passion of the Christ (2004).
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In order to achieve the blood effects in the film, the stage crew would use paint brushes to splatter Jim Caviezel with cow's blood before each take.
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The names of Jim Caviezel and Jesus Christ share the same initials. "Christ" was Jesus of Nazareth's title, not his surname. It means "Anointed One".
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Michelle Bonev's debut.
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Mel Gibson made a reported $400-475 million off this film.
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Director Cameo 

Mel Gibson: Gibson's hands nail Christ to the cross during the Crucifixion scene. Gibson said "It was me that put him on the cross. It was my sins" that put him there. According to special edition commentaries, Gibson also supplied the foot of Jesus (washed by Mary Magdalene) and the arms that tie Judas' suicide rope. His crying, screaming voice is heard during the latter scene.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In this film, Jesus Christ asks "Who are you looking for?" A Soldier replies "We are looking for Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus Christ says "I am he." The importance of this incident is mentioned in Gospel of John. In Gospel of John 18:4-6 (in Aramaic NT), Jesus Christ says "I AM" (ENA NA in Aramaic NT) instead of "I am he." When Jesus Christ said that "I AM", they went backward and fell to the ground in John 18:6. This is interesting to note, because the name of God is "I AM" which was revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14.
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It is the only film that depicts Jesus of Nazareth resurrecting undressed three days after his crucifixion. This scene is shown with a quick flash of his thigh when he rises from the Garden Tomb.
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The film has several specifically Catholic influences, such as: the prominent role of Mary, the Stations of the Cross, the floating cross on which Jesus was crucified, the depiction of Satan, and the Veil of Veronica as she wipes Christ's face on his way to the crucifixion.
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Although Sadducees are not mentioned in this film, still the High Priest and all of his associates (seen in this film) belonged to the sect of Sadducees. This can be read in Acts 5:17. James, a disciple of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:19) was murdered by High Priest Ananus who belonged to the sect of Sadducees. This was mentioned by Josephus in his "Antiquities 20.9.1."

In Matthew 22 & Mark 12, Jesus Christ criticized Sadducees for their lack of the knowledge in the scriptures and the power of God. Sadducees' lack of knowledge in the scriptures can be seen in both bible and in this film.

When the High Priest asked "Are you the Christ, the son of Blessed?" Jesus Christ told the High Priest and his associates with him this - "Jesus said, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:61-62). When Jesus Christ said this to the High Priest and his associates with him, the High Priest tore his garments (Matthew 26:65, Mark 14:63). When High Priest tore his garments, he violated Leviticus 21:10 which prohibited the High Priest from tearing his clothes. The sect of Sadducees completely disappeared with the destruction of Jerusalem and Jerusalem temple in 70 AD which was prophesied by Jesus Christ (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).
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Although the film omits one of the soldiers saying, "Truly this man was the Son of God," Cassius falls down at the foot of the cross after getting some of Jesus' blood in his eye. Abenader is then seen respectfully taking off his helmet, strongly implying he also recognizes Jesus as God's Son.
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"YA" is Aramaic form of Hebrew "YH" in EHYH (God's name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14). This can be seen with the names in New testament. In this film, Judas the traitor ("Yuda" in Aramaic where H is silent), John ("Yochanan" in Aramaic), and Joseph of Arimathea ("Yoseph" in Aramaic). When False Messiah Bar Kokhba revived Hebrew during Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 AD), the names started changing from Aramaic form ("YA") to Hebrew form ("YH"). So Yuda (in Aramaic) became Yehuda (in Hebrew), Yochanan (in Aramaic) became Yehochanan (in Hebrew), and Yoseph (in Aramaic) became "Yehoseph" (in Hebrew). The names with Aramaic word "Bar" (for example, the criminal "Bar"abba in this film) was replaced with Hebrew word "Ben" during Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 AD).
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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