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Details emerge from Warner Bros. rejected Joe Eszterhas screenplay, M.C.K.B.I.

04.16.2012

Last week we reported on the brouhaha between screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and director Mel Gibson over the proposed big screen telling of the Judah Maccabee story (Hanukkah, for the laypersons). The story has devolved into a he-said/he-tape recorded battle between the two. But, the reasoning behind Warner Bros. and Gibson rejecting the screenplay was that it was not very good.

Well, the script has leaked and snippets have made their way online. And, from what is out there, it sounds pretty damn good.

The Eszterhas telling of the 2nd century B.C. biblical tale of a group of five brothers, sons of the high priest Mattathias, who band together to fight the anti-Jewish occupation of Israel by the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus, is entitled M.C.K.B.I. (Get it? it sounds like Maccabee!).

The screenplay is described as exceedingly violent and graphic and compared to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, BRAVEHEART, AND THE TERMINATOR. Here is a sample from the script:

Ramses turns to run, but Judah is on him...Ramses falls. Judah kills him with his bare hands - lifting him by the neck and snapping it suddenly. Judah gets up and faces the other mercenaries. He is a crazed, furious, dervish - explosive, a killing machine. The mercenaries have shields, swords, and shovel-like spears. Judah draws his knife. He is a fighting machine at full roar.

That sounds pretty in line with Mel's type of action. And this sample monologue from Judah Maccabee sounds very much like the Jewish Braveheart that Gibson was aiming for.

“We will be free! The day will come when we’ll be free! We will be free to pray to our God! We will be free to educate our children! We will never have to bend our knee to anyone but our Lord! The day will come when we’ll be strong and mighty, strong enough to defeat anyone - anyone! - who wants to wipe us off the face of the earth. (He puts his clenched fist up into the air and bows his head.)”

In the end, the script is a first draft which raises the question as to why it was rejected outright. The status quo in Hollywood is to take a script and polish it to the point that the original author may not even be credited in the end. We may never know the final reasoning behind why this project fell apart, but it definitely raises questions as to why this story is so hard to get made.

Extra Tidbit: When I was a kid in Hebrew school, we watched RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as the only popcorn film about Judaism that did not involve the Holocaust. We need another. Make this movie!
Source: The Wrap

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