Mel Gibson has performed a spectacular U-turn over his controversial movie about Jesus Christ's last hours - he's decided to include subtitles after all.

Gibson shocked Hollywood after announcing The Passion, which stars JIM CAVIEZEL as Jesus and Monica Bellucci as Mary Magdalene, would be shot in Aramaic language without the aid of subtitles - but now a Christian focus group invited to a screening of the film insists it has too many subtitles.

One viewer tells American website THE SCOOP, "I don't know if Mel was ever serious about not having any subtitles. If he was, he has moved beyond that now.

"The version I saw actually had too many subtitles. We don't need distracting translations flashing on the screen when the Roman soldiers are saying obvious things like, 'Hey, you, move!'

"Mel noted that they were going to eliminate some of the subtitles in future edits."

Meanwhile, those lucky enough to catch the rough screening rave about The Passion - and dismiss accusations it is anti-semitic.

Another viewer tells The Scoop, "The Passion is a stunning work of art. It is a devout act of worship from Mel and his collaborators.

"Let's get the controversy out of the way right at the top. The film is faithful to the Gospel, particularly ST. JOHN. It is no more anti-Semitic than is the Gospel."

01/07/2003 17:25