Passion Recut Hits Theaters This Friday

In celebration of this year’s Easter holiday, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," which hit box offices exactly one year ago to this week, will be re-released into theaters this Friday in a new edited form.

The new version of "The Passion,” which will be left unrated, will have an age 15 certificate instead of the original 18 --something that Gibson hopes will allow a larger audience to embrace the film.

"What came up again and again was that a lot of people were turned away because of the brutality in the film and were afraid to watch," Gibson told Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s "World Over Live" Friday night.

"So I thought if I softened it up a bit, I could have a wider audience. Essentially it’s the same film, but what I’ve done is to excise some of the aspects of it,” he explained. "The trick was to excise or imply some of the aspects of it that were pretty much in your face, without actually showing them."

Gibson, who received "truckloads of cards and letters" upon the film's original release, revised approximately six minutes of the more violent and gory parts in "The Passion," including the scene where Christ receives the crown of thorns.

"You see it, but it’s farther away," Gibson said, adding that viewers no longer see the nails being driven into Christ’s hands.

"And it still works," concluded Gibson, who's passion for "The Passion" (www.passionrecut.com) hasn't been phased by the recent snub at the Oscar awards ceremony.

"I didn’t expect one," said Gibson, who called the ceremony, "a celebration of mediocrity." "I knew exactly what was going to happen. I didn’t try to market the film. People are spending 15 or 20 million dollars to market their films. That’s a lot of money for a little gold statue."

While "The Passion" will have Gibson occupied until Easter, the actor/director also has a few future projects planned out that involve him both behind and in front of the camera.

As a director, Gibson is currently working on a film based on the infamous Fatima visionary, Sister Lucia of Portugal. Gibson met with the famous nun in September of 2003 to honor her request for a private screening of "The Passion of the Christ." Gibson described Lucia as "incredibly childlike" and her convent, "pretty austere and spartan."

Sister Lucia, who passed away last month at 98 years of age, was a cloistered nun who as a child saw and spoke with the Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. Her visions and those of her two childhood friends, both since passed away, were both prophetic and apocalyptic and have been accepted by the Catholic Church accepted as authentic.

Along with continuing his directorial career, Gibson has also decided to begin acting again. "Under and Alone," a film based on a true story, will star Gibson as a Vietnam veteran who works for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and infiltrates a motorcycle gang. The film will be the actors first since 2002's suspense thriller "Signs."

Gibson, sporting a scruffy beard from his biker role, joked about his previous decision not to act again, saying he'd rather be, "a slob behind the camera...watching other people look good."

"The difference here is I get to be a slob in front of the camera again. So there's a major difference," he said.

"Under and Alone," directed by Antoine Fuqua, is currently in production, with no scheduled start date.