Hollywood insiders were convinced that The Passion of the Christ would be a major flop. Mel Gibson’s detractors predicted he would lose the $25 million he personally invested in the film. But only two weeks after it opened, The Passion had earned $200 million. Apparently Gibson, a Catholic pre–Vatican II traditionalist, has tapped into a Zeitgeist known as the culture war.
Conservative newspaper columnist Pat Buchanan led the praise chorus: “Gibson’s Passion gives us a Lenten masterpiece, a beautiful moving work of art. To cradle Catholics who can recite the lines of each episode before they are uttered, it is faithful to the Gospels, to the Stations of the Cross, to the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.”