A senior British lawmaker said the message of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is "seriously, damagingly anti-Semitic."

Gibson's dramatization of Christ's final hours opens in Britain on March 26. The film climbed to $264 million in the United States and Canada after 19 days in theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"What you are in for is sadism, gratuitous violence, ugliness, wallowing in blood and, it has to be said, crude anti-Semitism. That is what this movie is about," said Gerald Kaufman, a member of Britain's governing Labour Party and chairman of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee.

"I am not accusing him (Gibson) of being a deliberate and overt anti-Semite, but there is no doubt that the message of the film is seriously, damagingly anti-Semitic," he told commercial television station ITV Sunday.

"If this is the film that Mel Gibson has always wanted to make, then so much the worse for Mel Gibson."