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Mel Gibson needs pain. You might retort that, lately, he’s made more than enough for himself, but I’m talking only about the pain that feeds his art, not the tabloids.

Two cravings seem to ignite his talent, yet also limit it: the need to imagine the very distant past in all its strangeness, and the urge to portray excruciating physical agony graphically. The blood that drenched The Passion of the Christ certainly made the...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.