December 13, 2006

Gibson's sick sadomasochism

What's with Mel's bloody porn?

By Richard Schickel, film critic for TimeIt is not so much the detail with which [Apocalypto] treats violence that finally disgusts even the most hardened moviegoer; it is the ritualistic staging of it. Most reviewers have commented on the scene in which the Mayans stretch their victims across an altar and cut out their hearts and lift the still-throbbing organs to the skies. Gibson repeats this action and then sort of tops it by having the Mayans behead their prey and send their excised noggins bouncy-bouncy down their temple's steps.

This is a standard Gibson trope. He loves to get people painfully restrained and then do really bad things to them—Turan mentions the actor's drawing-and-quartering scene in "Braveheart" and the ghastly flogging of Jesus in "The Passion." We are not, in these instances, dealing with mere "violence." We are dealing with ritualized sadomasochism—an open manifestation of one of those dark fantasies that those in thrall to them must endlessly repeat and that have, of course, some sort of psychosexual component.
Schickel expects Apocalypto to do about as well as the splatter flicks it resembles:I know the movie topped the box-office charts last weekend. But I suspect that in the end, "Apocalypto" will perform like your average horror movie—doing well with bloodthirsty adolescent males for three days, then dropping 50% or 60% the following week. Maybe we should just let it die its death. Generally, we do not comment extensively on road kill. We just avert our eyes and hurry on past it.


Anonymous said...

I'm always suspicious when white Hollywood woos the Native vote and or opinion on controversial Indian themed movies. Why did Mr. Gibson and "Disney" choose to go this route? Did they think that by getting a whole tribe (Comanche) behind their project that it would some how legitimise the overblown violence and possible negative stereotyping of native people.
If I remember correctly, wasn't it Disney that trotted out that one lone Indian to agree with them when they released Pocahontas?
I'm still on the fence about Apocalypto, I don't know whether I should see it or not.

Rob said...

Russell Means (Powhatan) was, er, a chief advocate of Disney's Pocahontas. Which is ironic considering he's denounced Hollywood and blamed its Jewish executives for stereotyping Indians.

Rob said...

Based on the Oscar buzz I've seen, Forest Whitaker is still a favorite to win the Best Actor award. If not him, it may be Peter O'Toole for Venus, Leonardo DiCaprio for Blood Diamond, or Jack Nicholson for The Departed. Will Smith will be lucky to get nominated.

As for Best Picture, the nominees are likely to include Letters from Iwo Jima, The Departed, The Queen, and Babel. I'm guessing The Pursuit of Happyness (and Apocalypto) won't be among them.

This is a good place to mention that Apocalypto got one Golden Globe nomination: for best foreign-language film (!). How about that?