December 5, 2006


Praise for Gibson Film, Quandary for Oscar Voters (SHARON WAXMAN, 12/05/06, NY Times)

With some early reviews lauding the audacity and innovation of Mel Gibson’s bloody Mayan epic, “Apocalypto,” Hollywood’s tight-knit community of Oscar voters may find itself facing a difficult dilemma in the coming weeks: Will they consider the film for an Academy Award? [...]

Mr. Gibson wrote, directed, produced and financed the film, much as he did “The Passion of the Christ,” his surprise 2004 blockbuster; the Walt Disney Company is distributing the film.

“Apocalypto,” which will open on 2,500 screens across the country on Friday, is as different from a typical Hollywood film as Mr. Gibson’s last one: it features unrelenting, savage violence, is told in an obscure Mayan language and uses many nonprofessional actors with a primitive look born far from Hollywood.

Most critics (including this newspaper’s) have yet to weigh in on “Apocalypto,” but the excitement of those who have — like that among journalists who lingered to debate the film after a screening ended in Los Angeles last week — has been palpable.

“ ‘Apocalypto’ is a remarkable film,” Todd McCarthy wrote in Variety. “The picture provides a trip to a place one’s never been before, offering hitherto unseen sights of exceptional vividness and power.”

“Gibson has made a film of blunt provocation and bruising beauty,” Peter Travers wrote in Rolling Stone. “Say what you will about Gibson, he’s a filmmaker right down to his nerve endings.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 5, 2006 7:58 AM

Unrepentant rape doesn't seem to bother them, either. Mel is an icky Christian, which is unforgivable.

Posted by: Stormy70 at December 5, 2006 8:36 AM

Nor has the apparent fascination of Stone, Spielberg, et al. with Castro seemed to have done any damage to their careers.

Posted by: Rick T. at December 5, 2006 9:08 AM

I have a theory about Apocalypto, that Mel is aiming at directly at the Hispanic audience with this movie.

One of the reasons that the Passion was so successful was because Mel figured out (or stumbled into) how to get non-movie goers (i.e. people other than teenaged boys and blue state sophisticates) to go to a movie.

Like the Passion, Apocalypto has a very simple story, is very violent, and is very visual. And in both movies, the dialogue is delivered in an archaic language, something that should kill the movie, but oddly doesn't. Instead the archaic langauges make the movie seem very serious, makes the violence more acceptable because it's supposedly historically acurate.

Hence, for Mexicans and Guatemalans this is going to be a must see movie because it's about their history, and it's not another Anglophone production.

And because of Mel's fidelity to the original language and to using Latino and Indian actors it means that Mexicans can see this movie with a clear conscience, as the lead character is not being played by Jack Black in a dark wig and a silly accent.

So, Mel's probably thinking who cares if the critics like or dislike this movie, it's not intended for the audience that listens to critics, it's intended for an audience that sees themselves in this story.

And, if he's right, he'll have a huge hit on his hands, one that will succeed because he's once again convinced non-traditional movies goers to go to the movies.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at December 5, 2006 1:49 PM