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Thursday, March 04, 2004
THE REAL POTC CONTROVERSY: THAT CREEPY BABY?

Christianity Today goes right to the source to get to the bottom of the creepy baby moment in POTC.

"Again," said Gibson, "it's evil distorting what's good. What is more tender and beautiful than a mother and a child? So the Devil takes that and distorts it just a little bit. Instead of a normal mother and child you have an androgynous figure holding a 40-year-old 'baby' with hair on his back. It is weird, it is shocking, it's almost too much—just like turning Jesus over to continue scourging him on his chest is shocking and almost too much, which is the exact moment when this appearance of the Devil and the baby takes place."

At the roughcut screening I attended back in June, THIS was the scene that threw the Evangelical minister also in attendance into a hissy fit. (I went home that night and wrote the conversation down, but some of what follows is paraphrasing.) The minister kept pressing Mel to delete from the film, "Anything in the movie that isn't in the Bible."

Mel said, "Like what? What in my movie isn't in the Bible?"

Mel's confusion here comes from the fact that he, like any devout artist, doesn't see artistic license which is consonant with the spirit of the Scriptures to be "not in the Bible." I think he would say, "What I made is in the Bible - between the lines."

Anyway, the pastor guy said, "It isn't in the Bible that Satan talked to Jesus in the Garden."

Mel responded, "Don't you think Satan was there?"

Minister retorted, to the effect of, "It doesn't matter what I THINK. It matters what is written in the Word of God."

At this point, I burst in to the exchange. "Where in the Bible do God and Adam touch index fingers?" The pastor didn't say anything. I think Mel laughed. I stomped all over my point as usual, "The fact is, that image is one of the most enduring and powerful sacred images in human history." I turned to Mel. "Don't change your movie to please the sensibilities of any particular sect in Christendom. Change the movie if you think you are being somehow untrue to the Scriptures."

The minister was not happy with me. He waited a few cold seconds of silence and then talked past me to Mel. "And that scene with the ugly baby. What was that?"

Mel said, "I dunno. I just thought it was really creepy. Didn't you think it was creepy?"

Minister guy: "But what is it supposed to mean?"

Me: 'Satan brought a friend. He wanted to share it with a friend."

Mel laughed. "Yeah, he brought a friend!"

Minister guy persisted with exasperation, "But WHERE did you get that from?"

In other words, "You DIDN'T get it in the Bible, because I KNOW the Bible."

Mel, at this point was getting just as exasperated, "I dunno. I guess I just pulled it out of my ass."

FABULOUS! It still makes me laugh! The minister was appropriately horrified. I just thought it was perfectly appropriate.

Is there a better synthesis of the experience of the devout artist who stands back and looks at the work of thier hands, very aware that what they have wrought has come from they don't know where. The Pope speaks about artists as being conduits of Divine revelation. I have experienced every so often getting into a zone with my writing - especially fiction writing - in which the words all of a sudden pour out of me, and I only know "afterwords" that I didn't start writing with anywhere close to the ideas/formulations that suddenly appeared on the page.