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Warner Bros. Shelves Mel Gibson Maccabee Movie

•, By Sharon Waxman & Brent Lang

A spokesman for the studio told TheWrap: "We are analyzing what to do with the project."

Jewish groups were outraged after news broke in September that Gibson had reached a production deal with Warner's to direct the story of Judah Maccabee, whose victory over Greek and Syrian armies is celebrated at Hanukkah. One Jewish group called it “a moral lapse in judgement.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he was pleased that the project had been shelved.

"Jewish history will be better off without Mel Gibson playing Judah Maccabee," Hier told TheWrap.

Eszterhas (pictured at left) delivered the script in late February, and Warner's has since passed on it, according to an individual close to the project. Warner production president Greg Silverman described it as lacking in “feeling” and “a sense of triumph," according to the individual.
As another individual put it: "The script didn't pass muster."

But in an explosive letter to Gibson obtained by TheWrap, Eszterhas said that the director never planned to make the movie, and was using him to deflect Gibson's anti-Semitic reputation.

He wrote: “I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason you won’t make ‘The Maccabees’ is the ugliest possible one. You hate Jews.”

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Dennis Treybil
Entered on:

Macabees is an interesting book.

In the late 1980's, I skimmed it and read just a smattering of reference material on it.

I read the book seeking to understand why King James had seen fit to delete it from the version of the Bible he commissioned.  Nevermind my original theory - I'd be too embarrassed to admit it.  But the opening page of chapter one spoke volumes to me.

I was using a Jersusalem Bible - not to be confused with the New Jerusalem Bible published by the Catholic Church.

The Jerusalem Bible includes a prologue to the chaptered and numbered text.  I'm assuming the prologue was part of the original manuscript.

When I read that prologue, I realized immediately why it was omitted by an English King.  The prologue was an apt description of early American History. 

The King James Bible was published in 1611 and carried by early settlers in the New World.  They relied on it for history.  The history they relied on had something that would have been of great interest to them.  I'm not sure whether it would have benefitted them, or it may have led them to some rash decisions - who knows?

Around 167BC, if memory serves, a particularly awful Roman Governor was installed.  The Macabees led a revolt against them - a succesful revolt.  If you look at a Catholic Bible or the New Jerusalem Bible, you'll notice there is a Macabees I and a Macabees II.

I mention this because the Macabees at some point settled with the Romans.  I can't be entirely sure, but if they had waited too long to settle, it's entirely possible that instead of Macabees I and Macabees II, we'd all find chapters with the titles Macabees I and The Last of the Macabees.

Among those dissatisfied factions were  groups who eventually became the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes.  (according to the one source I skimmed, the name and author of which eludes me.)

Of course, this would render a movie based on that revolt of interest to Christians in addition to Jews possibly drawing a good audience.

I only recall the prologue and I didn't re-read the book tonight.  It may well be that courageous acts were performed and lives were given in this effort - and maybe some of those could be presented on-screen as powerfully as Braveheart declaring "Freedom."

Still, given the factional splintering that apparently resulted upon the Macabees settling, it might not be that easy to bring off.  Then again, at the end of Sir Lawrence of Arabia, there is a scene in which the newly sovereign tribal leaders get into a fractious meeting, and that did pretty good at the box office.

I got the wrong idea from the headline.  It looked like Gibson had the idea of the movie and Warner Brothers declined.  Of course, that's not exactly what happened.

But when I thought it was the studio, I was reminded of the movie Ghandi.  Here's a movie that is so long, they gave an intermission in theatres and on cable. 

After watching it, I attended a talk by a native of India who was old enough to know that was going on around Ghandi for a few years before he died.  He said that Ghandi's goal was to get Britain out of India.  Ghandi had a three-point strategy to accomplish that.  He talked about this three-point strategy at every meeting.  And the three-point strategy was this:

Decentralize, decentralize, decentralize.

The speaker noted that he had watched the movie more than once and Ghandi was never shown saying this.

Imagine, Ghandi was a "Tenther" before it was cool.  A closet federalist, republican living half way around the world!

How many seconds does it take to say Decentralize, decentralize, decentralize?  In a movie long enough to merit an intermission, doesn't it look like they'd squeeze that in somewhere?

That was my first thought when I read the headline about the Macabees movie.

Oh well, FWIW.

DC Treybil



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