I got the following from a close friend of Cinema Blend who asked that his name be kept anonymous for reasons that are, well, obvious after you read what he has to say. Read on to see what happened when Mel Gibson went mad at a special screening of Apocalypto! - Josh Tyler, CB
I thought you all might be interested in a screening report of a showing of Apocalypto that Mel Gibson hosted at CSU Northridge. If not well, I’m writing this to sort out my thoughts of a very strange night, the pre and post screening seemed liable to break out into a Gangs Of New York style bloodbath at anarchy.
I’m a student as USC, and started to hear some scuttlebutt suggesting Mel Gibson would be hosting a screening of Apocalypto at CSUN. Now this would be like The Rolling Stones headlining at the Tick Tock Inn, so I was a wee bit skeptical, still a few calls seemed to confirm it, and I decided to visit my country cousins in the valley.
I arrived at CSUN around three to find a line had already formed for the 7PM screening, it formed around the lobby of CSUN’s cozy Armer theatre and the mood was jovial and friendly, no one knew the hammer was coming down and soon their friends and neighbors would become competitors who they would kill without a second thought in a sort of miniature version of the Monster Are Due On Maple Street.
Meanwhile all the people who thought they where being crafty by arriving for the screening a mere three and two hours earlier where sorely disappointed, a line formed that circled the building and several fights nearly broke out. To say the mood was ugly was an understatement everyone in the line would have gladly stabbed the person in front of them to get one step closer to that sweet sweet candy. This went on for an ulcer creating two hours when me and the lucky thirty were let in as the rest of the students where turned away.
As I went inside flashing my numbered card I was somewhat shocked by how lax the security was, no student ID’s no nothing; this observation to would turn out to be ruefully ironic.
The head of the Armer came down and gave a genial introduction, in which he asked the students to limit their question to Mel Gibson’s films. A small chuckle ran up through the crowd, it seemed that Gibson’s past event wouldn’t be an issue at all. Well be careful what you wish for.
The film started, was wonderful, and then Gibson came in to a standing ovation that lasted a long long time. The Q&A started innocuously enough with questions about the film’s difficult locations, Gibson’s friendship with the actors, his cinematic theories, and the techniques that made the film. Gibson was charming and easy going, dropping the F-bomb with sardonic glee. Gibson also talked about the controversy over the research he did on the film, citing his sources, his methods and his partners he ended it with a hearty statement of “They’re all full of bullshit.” He explained that Yucatan language really was that dirty and the subtitles like “He’s fucked” were not exaggerated.
This last question was somewhat appropriate, because soon after a woman identifying herself as “The Professor” and three or four extremely pissed off looking Mayan’s stood up and got a hold of the microphone. Before she opened her mouth the faces of the faculty fell, they had ****ed up and they knew it. Not only had they not screened this person they had given her the God Damn microphone, they where screwed they had stepped up to the big leagues and had managed to hit a foul ball that not only flew into the parking lot and broke the owners windshield but also killed his baby in the backseat. And when the woman started to talk, well they began to look like they where attempting to figure out how to vomit, weep crawl away and slit their wrists all at once. The woman started calling Gibson “A racist” and “ignorant” while the other Mayans chanted in Spanish. Gibson insisted that she say her piece, interrupting her only when she called his potrayl of Mayan’s negative to which he replied “Oh you mean like the guy who loves his wife and son? Like the families and people trying desperately to survive?” and then he started by telling her about the people he read, then rapidly went ape shit with “Read a ****ing book.” And “Make your own fuckinging movie”. Gibson was cheered the protestors where booed and then forcibly removed.
Now I’m no fan of racial profiling but when five Mayans come to a screening with STACKS of files under their arms, and the film you are screening has been under fire from Mayan groups, well you don’t assume they’re collecting for The Red Cross. But it’s a good thing that they let them in instead of you know some freaking students.
Anyway, I have to give Gibson some real credit here, he could have cut the interview short or stormed out and no one would have blamed him. Here he is going to Podunk U, showing his personal copy of the film and the department fucked up big time. Instead he stayed for two hours and talked to the students for two more hours, and remained a gracious and cool cat. However, the protest did seem to unhinge him a little and as a result he started spouting out some crazy Dennis Hopper style stuff. The microphone was quickly given to a real Latina professor who proclaimed how much she loved the film with a desperate fervor as everyone else on staff nodded and prayed to not be crushed. Gibson started his first Awesome Rant saying that he toned down the real stuff the Mayans did, and then went to describe in gory detail the way a captured King would be tortured for nine years would have his organs removed, be driven insane and then rolled down the temple steps.
This was the first of many awesome rants. Now say what you want about Gibson but it must be acknowledged that this cat is a charming, confident, frequently hilarious speaker who knows how to work a room like no ones business. Gibson would periodically punctuate his speeches with observations on Quantum Mechanics, philosophy, and a Doctor from Shanghai who once psychokinetically moved Gibson with energy from his hands and then levitated him. He ended that particular story with the remarkably cryptic “I’ve seen miracles man”.
Gibson talked some more about Apocolypto including a touching story about the actor whom the film is dedicated to who died of cancer, the insane difficulty of the waterfall shot, his preference for practical effects over CGI and jumping off of buildings.
Gibson also talked about film as well, Mel has apparently joined ranks with the likes of Michael Mann and Robert Rodriguez in the opinion that HD will crush film under its boot heel. He talked with wonder about scenes he was able to light simply through fire. At the same time he mentioned that he’d like to shoot a small film purely on 16mm. Gibson then went on to reveal that he’s writing another script with the writer of Apocolypto on, I shit you not, The Creation of The Oxford Dictionary.
Gibson then was asked about George Miller, whom he talked about with obvious affection, congratulating him on his Oscar win, saying he loved Happy Feet, and saying he talked with him regularly, before dropping one of the most interesting bombshells of the night. Apparently Miller is still working on a Mad Max IV, which Gibson won’t be appearing in. The project has long been thought dead, but Gibson seemed confident that it will happen in the next two years.
Mel spoke about becoming a director by accident when an unnamed filmmaker was too intoxicated to arrive on set before 6 PM forcing him to step into the role. The closest that Gibson came to addressing his DUI and subsequent mess came when Gibson talked about his long standing interest in filming The Book Of Macabees ruefully saying he might not be able to do it now. He then pointed at the audience with the exclamation “You do it!”
Two hours flew by and Gibson soon left to a second standing ovation after graciously signing a few posters for the department. It was a wild night. Mel acquitted himself nicely and I strongly urge that if you ever have a chance to hear Mel Gibson speak, do so, and be sure to ask him about his Shanghai doctor.