Saturday, September 30, 2006

 

A Letter to Mel Gibson regarding ‘Apocalypto’


A bigger entertainment story than most of the summertime films was Mel Gibson’s July 28 arrest for suspicion of DUI by a Malibu, CA. sheriff. Of course what set Gibson’s reckless driving on the Pacific Coast Highway apart from others were the religious epithets he spewed at the arresting officers.
Plans for his “Mea culpa” tour of public damage control have been set aside for test screenings of his latest directorial effort, the Mayan civilization drama “Apocalypto.”
On Sept. 22, at the Fantastic Fest in Austin Texas, Gibson took part in a post screening Q&A with his leading man Rudy Youngblood after a work-in-progress showing of “Apocalypto.”
After weeks of commentary about the extant of damage to Gibson’s standing in Hollywood and what he needs to repair his public profile, new questions arise regarding the ability for critics to watch “Apocalypto” free of biases regarding Gibson and his shameful, anti-Semitic and anti-woman remarks on the night of his arrest.
Gibson’s dilemma is a common one, a need for people to separate the life of the artist from the finished art. It’s no different from the current pleas of German novelist Günter Grass who wants readers to accept and understand his newly revealed Nazi past.
My critic’s pledge to Gibson is this: I’ll write about “Apocalypto” fairly, treating it like any other film from goofball releases like “Jackass 2” to event releases like “The Departed.” I’ll emphasize dramatic content, filmmaker technique and performances over commentary about your pleas for forgiveness or lack thereof. I must admit that I’m not the least bit interested in whether you take on a “Mea culpa” public relations tour or not. After all, as a person, what more do you have to tell us that we haven’t already heard before? But as a filmmaker, well, I’m anxious to watch “Apocalypto” and I think I’ll always be anxious to see any of your new films. Looks like I have already made the split between Gibson the suffering man and Gibson the talented film artist.

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