Mel Gibson said the graphic depiction of Christ's crucifixion in his upcoming film "The Passion of the Christ" was meant to make viewers realize the extent of Christ's sacrifice.
"I think it pushes one over the edge so that they see the enormity, the enormity of that sacrifice," he said during an interview with Diane Sawyer for ABC's "Primetime" that airs Monday.
Gibson, who funded, directed and co-wrote the upcoming movie, said he wanted the movie to be shocking and extreme.
"It's very violent and if you don't like it, don't go, you know?" Gibson said in excerpts of the interview provided by ABC. "If you want to leave halfway through, go ahead."
The R-rated movie, set for release Feb. 25, details the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus. Gibson maintains it's a faithful biblical narrative, but some worry that its depiction of the role of some Jews in the death of Christ may lead to an increase in anti-Semitism.
Among them is Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who has seen the film twice.
Gibson told Sawyer the film was not anti-Semitic and was instead about "faith, hope, love and forgiveness."
"To be anti-Semitic is a sin," the actor-director said. "It's been condemned by one Papal Council after another. To be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian, and I'm not."
The "Primetime" program also includes an interview of Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Foxman told Sawyer he does not believe Gibson or the film are anti-Semitic but added that the movie "has the potential to fuel anti-Semitism, to reinforce it."