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About The Production (Continued)
Patricia Arquette was intrigued by the intellectual demands posed by her character

Patricia Arquette was intrigued by the intellectual demands posed by her character. In the course of the film, her character must write and speak Aramaic, an ancient language spoken at the time of Christ that has largely been forgotten. Some scholars believe that this was the actual tongue spoken by Jesus, according to a specialist hired to instruct the actress in speaking Aramaic.

William Schniedewind, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies and Northwest Semitic Languages at UCLA, was hired to recreate what Aramaic would sound like if spoken in the tongue of someone using the language two thousand years ago.

"The problem in using the Aramaic of Jesus's time is that it doesn't have any vowels," explains Schniedewind. "So, we have to reconstruct the vowels in order to speak it. We don't have any living speakers of 1st Century Galilean Aramaic. Most scholars debate if Jesus's language was Aramaic or Hebrew. And speaking it as it was then as opposed to modern Aramaic today is like comparing Chaucerian English to modern English. There is an enormous difference."

Patricia Arquette rehearsed her Aramaic lines diligently, becoming well-versed in the difficult language. "I was very proud of her," said Schniedewind. "She memorized enough of the Aramaic that she was able to emphasize the syllables and words appropriately. Maybe I'll have her come in and teach a class with me next year at UCLA."

Special effects coordinator Al DiSarro, who created mechanical special effects (as opposed to digital computer-generated visual effects) for such blockbusters as Die Hard II, The Hunt For Red October and Speed II, went to great lengths in his own department to ensure the effects in Stigmata were as fantastic as they were safe for cast and crew. "We worked closely in order to create what Frank and Rupert envisioned for the effects," says DiSarro. "The forces attacking the characters are both real and mysterious. We wanted to convey the actual presence of something, making the effects something the audience would experience for themselves."

DiSarro called on his expertise in many areas, from pyrotechnics and rain creation to gimbals and levitation. Extensive attention to detail was given to each sequence to ensure that no one would be harmed while in close proximity to the rigs. "Frank Mancuso, Jr. gave us the luxury of testing," explains DiSarro. "We could actually videotape our gags and see them on playback long before we brought them in for filming. He approved the time to bring in our technicians and equipment on to an empty stage and shoot days of tests to get it right. We hope to bring new experiences to the audience, which is harder and harder to do with today's effects-laden movies."

The work ethic of Stigmata star Patricia Arquette was the most unexpected bonus for the special effects crew. Her willingness to subject herself to the toughest stunts in the film and her cheerful endurance became a legend of sorts for DiSarro and his crew. Throughout production Arquette was subjected to just about every physical and mechanical special effect imaginable, from levitation to dangerous stunts to extensive makeup effects.

"What a trouper this woman was," marvels DiSarro. "She gave a lot of her time and effort. For example, she was laced up for hours in the levitation arm and never complained. By the third hour, I was in awe of her stamina. It was also a luxury to have time to<


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