In a career spanning 36 years, movie actor, producer, director and screenwriter, Mel Gibson has perhaps become best known for his role as LAPD detective Martin Riggs in the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series, or as the embittered loner, ‘Mad Max.’ In the early ‘80s, film critics commented on his good looks and screen presence and compared him to cinema legends such as Clark Gable and Steve McQueen. The American born/Australian raised hear-throb won a legion of fans over the years in such movies as ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and ‘Forever Young,’ or in comedies including ‘Bird on a Wire.’ However, many of Gibson’s movies have also explored themes that question the very essence of Man’s existence on earth; for example, the 1981 movie ‘Gallipoli’ charts the loss of innocence and, ultimately, the futility of war as five young men enlist to fight in WWI. In 2006, Gibson was praised for his directing of the movie, ‘Apocalypto,’ which is set during the 16th century in Mesoamerica during the times of the Maya civilisation. In 1997, he starred in the action-thriller, ‘Conspiracy Theory‘ as a taxi driver who believes that world events are orchestrated and triggered by malevolent governments.
What attracted Gibson to take on the role of Jerry Fletcher in this particular movie?… In an interview for ‘Playboy’ magazine in 1995, he talked about his views on a number of subjects, some of which weren’t too far removed from the character he portrayed in ‘Conspiracy Theory’…
PLAYBOY: How do you feel about Bill Clinton?
GIBSON: He’s a low-level opportunist. Somebody’s telling him what to do.
GIBSON: The guy who’s in charge isn’t going to be the front man, ever. If I were going to be calling the shots I wouldn’t make an appearance. Would you? You’d end up losing your head. It happens all the time. All those monarchs. If he’s the leader, he’s getting shafted. What’s keeping him in there? Why would you stay for that kind of abuse? Except that he has to stay for some reason. He was meant to be the president 30 years ago, if you ask me.
PLAYBOY: He was just 18 then.
GIBSON: Somebody knew then that he would be president now.
PLAYBOY: You really believe that?
GIBSON: I really believe that. He was a Rhodes scholar, right? Just like Bob Hawke. Do you know what a Rhodes scholar is? Cecil Rhodes established the Rhodes scholarship for those young men and women who want to strive for a new world order. Have you heard that before? George Bush? CIA? Really, it’s Marxism, but it just doesn’t want to call itself that. Karl had the right idea, but he was too forward about saying what it was. Get power but don’t admit to it. Do it by stealth. There’s a whole trend of Rhodes scholars who will be politicians around the world.
PLAYBOY: This certainly sounds like a paranoid sense of world history. You must be quite an assassination buff.
GIBSON: Oh, f**k. A lot of those guys pulled a boner. There’s something to do with the Federal Reserve that Lincoln did, Kennedy did and Reagan tried. I can’t remember what it was, my dad told me about it. Everyone who did this particular thing that would have fixed the economy got undone. Anyway, I’ll end up dead if I keep talking s**t.
PLAYBOY: No one can accuse you of keeping your big mouth shut.
GIBSON: I used to get into trouble because I had a really big trap. I’d say things to people and they’d take offence because I’m not the soul of tact. It still plagues me.
Although he later backed away from these comments, he wasn’t far wrong regarding his “really big trap” and the trouble it’s caused him in the years since this interview.
In July 2006, a drunken Gibson was arrested for Driving Under The Influence after his blood-alcohol level was found to be well above the legal limit. An open bottle of tequila was also discovered in his car and the actor burst into an angry tirade at the arresting police-officer exclaiming, “f*****g Jews … the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world…. are you a Jew?”
Despite apologising for his outburst and offering to meet with Jewish leaders to discuss his “despicable“ behaviour, the reaction of Hollywood movers and shakers was swift. According to a ‘Vanity Fair’ article, the head of ‘Sony,’ Amy Pascal, suggested a boycott of the actor, and talent agent, Ari Emanuel said, “the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements.” He then went to on to state that, “now we know the truth. And no amount of publicist-approved contrition can paper it over.” This final remark was perhaps in relation to the controversy that surrounded Gibson’s 2004 movie, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ when he was accused of being “anti-Semitic.”
Starring Jim Caviezel in the title role, the film covers the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life largely according to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. However, even before it’s release, the Gibson-directed project was being attacked by various religious groups, race-relations organisations and Hollywood figures. After reading a version of the script, a joint committee of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Department of Inter-religious Affairs of the Anti-Defamation League called it…
“one of the most troublesome texts, relative to anti-Semitic potential, that any of us had seen in twenty-five years. It must be emphasized that the main storyline presented Jesus as having been relentlessly pursued by an evil cabal of Jews, headed by the high priest Caiaphas, who finally blackmailed a weak-kneed Pilate into putting Jesus to death. This is precisely the storyline that fuelled centuries of anti-Semitism within Christian societies.”
No doubt, such criticism was fuelled by one particular scene in the movie where Caiaphas states, “his blood (is) on us and on our own children!” Jewish groups asked for it to be deleted, but Gibson refused later stating that the scene was, “directed at all of us, all men who were there, and all that came after. His blood is on us, and that’s what Jesus wanted. But I finally had to admit that one of the reasons I felt strongly about keeping it, aside from the fact it’s true, is that I didn’t want to let someone else dictate what could or couldn’t be said.” Whilst defending his movie, he was also known to have said, “anti-Semitism is not only contrary to my personal beliefs, it is also contrary to the core message of my movie. ‘The Passion’ is a film meant to inspire not offend.”
Movie reviewers also joined in on the anti-Semitic debate and attacked the staunchly Catholic Gibson for his portrayal of Jews. Writing for ‘New Republic,’ Leon Wieseltier stated, “in its representation of its Jewish characters, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ is without any doubt an anti-Semitic movie, and anybody who says otherwise knows nothing, or chooses to know nothing, about the visual history of anti-Semitism, in art and in film. What is so shocking about Gibson’s Jews is how unreconstructed they are in their stereotypical appearances and actions. These are not merely anti-Semitic images; these are classically anti-Semitic images.” Reviewer, Kartha Pollitt also commented on the film’s physical portrayal of Jews stating that, “the priests have big noses and gnarly faces, lumpish bodies, yellow teeth; Herod Antipas and his court are a bizarre collection of oily-haired, epicene perverts. The ‘good Jews’ look like Italian movie stars.”
The movie also came under fire for it’s historical and biblical accuracy, although a number of scholars disagreed with this analysis, including Father Augustine Di Noia of the Vatican’s Doctrinal Congregation who stated that, “Mel Gibson’s film is not a documentary but a work of artistic imagination… Gibson’s film is entirely faithful to the New Testament.”
In July 2010, Gibson was once again accused of racism when a tape-recording of him allegedly speaking to his then-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva was made public and in which he used the term, “wetbacks.” The racial slur was said to have taken place during a phone-call with Oksana as they talked about a South American who was working for him and who he wanted fired and reported to the immigration authorities. The tape-recording was leaked onto the internet just months after Gibson had split with Grigorieva.
Police launched a domestic violence investigation after Oksana (a Russian musician who was previously involved in a long-term relationship with former James Bond actor, Timothy Dalton) claimed the ’Braveheart’ star had physically assaulted her. She dropped the claims in 2011 although the battle for custody of their 2-year-old daughter, Lucia continued. In March 2011, Gibson agreed to plead No Contest to a misdemeanour battery charge announcing that the prosecutors and presiding judge allowed him to end the case and maintain his innocence. This meant his plea did not include an admission of guilt.
The telephone argument was just one in a series of recordings between the couple that leaked onto the internet during 2010. In another, Grigorieva accuses Gibson of assaulting her whilst holding their child in her arms, and tells him he‘s “unbalanced.” In more than one recording she’s heard to say that he needs “medication.” Gibson, meanwhile, labels her a “gold digger,” “using b***h,” and says she’s “ruined” his career. He also suggests that if she got “raped by a pack of niggers,” she would be to blame.
Gibson later claimed that Grigorieva had used the tape-recordings to blackmail him in order to secure a better custody arrangement and alimony. However, the actor failed in his bid to have her charged with extortion after prosecutors stated there was insufficient evidence to warrant such a move. In yet another twist, a report posted by an entertainment website in 2010 claimed that Grigorieva had also accused Timothy Dalton of physically abusing her during their relationship. Supposed “law enforcement sources” informed ‘TMZ’ that, “the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is in possession of at least one email from Oksana to Mel in which she claims Dalton physically abused her.” A lawyer representing the British actor denied the allegations saying, “Dalton said that he spoke with Oksana and they both agreed that anyone claiming there was abusiveness in the relationship is a liar and it is a complete fabrication.”
There were also questions surrounding the authenticity of the tape-recordings after a number of forensic experts expressed their doubts, including Arlo West. In the following clip, he tells ABC News reporters that the recordings he’d heard had “gaps, transients and fades,” citing that, “all three of these things would be considered in authenticating the audio itself.” He believes that Grigorieva “had help” recording the phone conversations which were “professionally done” and “well engineered.“ He also adds that, “she was clearly speaking into what we would consider a large diaphragm microphone” and described the audio quality as “extraordinary.”
Commenting on the tapes, Gibson said, “I’ve never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality – period. I don’t blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited. You have to put it all in the proper context of being in an irrationally, heated discussion at the height of a breakdown, trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship. It’s one terribly, awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day and doesn’t represent what I truly believe or how I’ve treated people my entire life.”
Despite his very public troubles, Gibson continues to remain busy working on movie projects. For example, May 2012 sees the release of ’How I Spent My Summer Vacation’ (also titled, ‘Get the Gringo’), in which he reprises the role of Porter, last seen in the 1999 film, ’Payback.’ In 2011, it was announced that Gibson had commissioned a screenplay about The Maccabees, a Jewish rebel army that revolted against the Greek/Syrian armies in the 2nd century B.C. and reasserted the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism. Credited for his work on the hit movies, ‘Basic Instinct,’ ‘Jagged Edge,’ and ‘Flashdance,’ Joe Eszterhas was assigned to write the screenplay for the movie. However, film studio, Warner Bros rejected the script claiming it lacked, “a sense of triumph.” In response, Eszterhas sent a nine-page letter to Gibson accusing him of sabotaging the planned film for anti-Semitic reasons, thus, once again forcing the movie star back into the glare of controversy where he currently finds himself.
In the letter, which was made public by the film industry website, ‘The Wrap’ just a few days ago, Eszterhas writes,
Warner Bros informed me in mid-March that the studio was not proceeding with the project. An executive there said the script had “no feeling.” (I vehemently disagree). He said you would be calling me imminently, but you haven’t. I spent nearly two years researching and writing my script and I am deeply disappointed that you haven’t had the decency to respond to it.
I’ve come to the conclusion that you never had, or have, any intention of making a film about the Maccabees. I believe you announced the project with great fanfare — “a Jewish Braveheart” — in an attempt to deflect continuing charges of anti-Semitism which have dogged you, charges which have crippled your career. I’ve come to the conclusion that you used me. More exactly, you used my credentials: The two films which I’ve written condemning anti-Semitism (‘Betrayed’ and ‘Music Box’); the Lifetime Achievement Award I received from the Emanuel Foundation for writings about the Holocaust in Hungary; the fundraiser I did for the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles, an organisation which has been highly critical of you through the years. I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason you won’t make ‘The Maccabess’ is the ugliest possible one. You hate Jews.
The script I sent you on February 28th (2012) has been praised by every person to whom I’ve sent it, many of them Jewish… Mark Gooder, the head of Icon, your production company, told the head of ICM, Jeff Berg: “I loved it, I absolutely loved it. I haven’t heard from Mel about it, but I think we should go into pre-production as soon as possible.”
I signed on to write “the Jewish Braveheart” — at much less than my usual fee — against the advice of many who said, “Mel Gibson will never make this movie.” I had to overcome my own deep misgivings about you. I defended you for The Passion of the Christ, but after your drunk driving arrest, after you hurled those anti-Semitic epithets at the arresting officer, I wrote this about you in my 2008 book Crossbearer: “No doubt now. Mel was a raving anti-Semite who… shared the mindset of Adolf Hitler.”
But I hoped (maybe against hope) that when you told me you wanted to make the story of the Maccabees “because I think I should” you were speaking from your heart… that you wanted to make this story as a kind of penance/apologia for some of the anti-Semitic statements that you were accused of having made in the past.
I thought you were being sincere and that bringing your considerable directing skills to this powerful, moving story of Jewish heroism could result in a classic film.
But as time went on, as we worked together and spent more personal time together, I became increasingly worried that I’d made a grave mistake hooking up with you. I almost pulled out of the project several times.
Let me remind you of some of the things you said which appalled me. You continually called Jews “Hebes” and “oven-dodgers” and “Jewboys.” It seemed that most times when we discussed someone, you asked, “He’s a Hebe, isn’t he?” or “Is he a Hebe?” You said most “gatekeepers” of American companies were “Hebes” who “controlled their bosses.”
You said the Holocaust was “mostly a lot of horseshit.” You said the Torah made reference to the sacrifice of Christian babies and infants. When I told you that you were confusing the Torah with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, one of the most scurrilous anti-Semitic tracts ever written, you insisted “it’s in the Torah — it’s in there!” (It isn’t).
You told me that the mothers of the last three Popes of the Catholic church were Jewish, and you said there was a Jewish/Masonic conspiracy to destroy the Catholic church — it’s final architect Pope John Paul The Great, whom you called “the anti-Christ.” On another occasion, you referred to John Paul as “the devil” — this Pope, one of my personal heroes, who was universally acclaimed for apologising to Jews for a long-standing and historical tradition of Catholic anti-Semitism.
You said that Vatican II, which stripped Catholic liturgy of anti-Semitic prayers, “destroyed the church” and you said that Pope John Paul VI wore an ephod, the symbol of Jewish high priesthood, once worn by Caiphas, the high priest at the time Jesus was crucified. You said that a “Jewish liberal conspiracy” was responsible for the death of Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani, a conspiracy which your father, Hutton, told me was completed when a cardinal sat on the Pope’s face and suffocated him.
Perhaps most disturbing, as I wrote the script, was a comment you made to me in your Malibu house. It came out of the blue, while you were playing on the living room floor with your little girl, Luci. “What I really want to do with this movie,” you said, “is convert the Jews to Christianity.”
I didn’t understand what you were saying. It didn’t make any sense to me. Our “Jewish Braveheart” was going to be a means of converting Jews to Christianity? I asked what you meant. You just smiled and turned back to playing with Luci.
I decided that I would ignore all the looney, rancid anti-Semitic stuff I was hearing from you and write the script my way, using the many volumes of historical record and biblical commentary I had found and read on my own (and which you hadn’t).
I was determined to write “the Jewish Braveheart,” a movie which everyone would be entertained by and which every Jew would be proud of. And in an interview with the online version of The New York Times Magazine (February 5, 2012) I said that if I saw anti-Semitism creeping into our film, I would take my name off the credits and tell the world why.
In the letter, Eszterhas also claims that Gibson, whilst in one of his mad rages, told him that he was going to have his estranged girlfriend, Oksana “killed” with the help of some FBI friends so that he didn’t have to share their daughter with her. Eszterhas also writes that Gibson admitted slapping her “a little bit,” after which she “went running ’hysterically’ down the hillside” beside Gibson’s house “in the pitch dark.”
Eszterhas’s letter can be read here in it‘s entirety:
In the following clip, Eszterhas talks to ‘Today’ host, Ann Curry about what he claims he and his family had to endure whilst staying at Gibson’s Costa Rica home. During the interview, the movie actor is accused of sharing a “pornographic scenario” of “sexual butchery” with the screenwriter’s 15-year-old son. Eszterhas also claims to possess a recording of Mel’s rants but is still undecided whether to release them or not.
Gibson has denied the “majority” of the claims. In a statement addressed to Eszterhas he says:
I have your letter. I am not going to respond to it line by line, but I will say that the great majority of the facts as well as the statements and actions attributed to me in your letter are utter fabrications. I would have thought that a man of principle, as you purport to be, would have withdrawn from the project regardless of the money if you truly believed me to be the person you describe in your letter. I guess you only had a problem with me after Warner Brothers rejected your script.
I will acknowledge like most creative people I am passionate and intense. I was very frustrated that when you arrived at my home at the expense of both Warner Brothers and myself you hadn’t written a single word of a script or even an outline after 15 months of research, meetings, discussions and the outpouring of my heartfelt vision for this story. I did react more strongly than I should have….
Contrary to your assertion that I was only developing Maccabees to burnish my tarnished reputation, I have been working on this project for over 10 years and it was publicly announced 8 years ago. I absolutely want to make this movie; it’s just that neither Warner Brothers nor I want to make this movie based on your script.
Honestly, Joe, not only was the script delivered later than you promised, both Warner Brothers and I were extraordinarily disappointed with the draft. In 25 years of script development I have never seen a more substandard first draft or a more significant waste of time. The decision not to proceed with you was based on the quality of your script, not on any other factor.
I think that we can agree that this should be our last communication.
Given the recent controversy the letter has attracted in the public domain since it‘s release, the future of ‘The Maccabees’ project now appears to be hanging in the balance, although Gibson has reportedly said he will continue working on it.
A number of Gibson’s alleged comments documented in Eszterhas’ letter draw some interesting parallels with the actor’s 1995 ‘Playboy’ magazine interview. In both instances, we find the star sharing his knowledge of well known conspiracy theories.
For example, the references to a “Jewish/Masonic” plot to destroy the Catholic church are cited in a document titled, ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.’ It’s said to be the secret minutes of a late 19th century meeting of Jewish leaders in Switzerland describing their plans for global domination by international Jewry. The controversial document claims the Jews had infiltrated Freemasonry and were using the fraternity to further their aims, one of which was to overthrow the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was first published in book form in 1897 although the ideas contained within are said to stretch back thousands of years. Researcher Ivan Fraser states in his article, ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion: Proof of an Ancient Conspiracy’:
“Since 621 B.C., the date of the writing of the Book of Deuteronomy, the first book of the Torah of the Old Testament to be written, there has been a conspiracy by a few to conquer and destroy the many. The few are identified in the Bible as The Chosen People, the Israelites; and more specifically the minority of the legendary 12 Tribes of Israel – the tribes of Judah and Benjamin – who ghettoised themselves at Jerusalem under that very Law as defined by Deuteronomy. This would be the origin of the people we call “the Jews”. A small sect of people ruled with an iron hand of tyranny and fear by a minority of Levitical priests who claimed to speak for their God Yahweh, whose home was the Temple in Jerusalem… the Protocols are not a unique work, unprecedented in history, but are the product of an ancient heritage which has remained unbroken and unaltered since at least the middle of the first millennium B.C.”
In total, there are 24 Protocols listed in the document, including plans to bring about the destruction of religion by materialism, the abolition of The Constitution, Press censorship and propaganda, and economic wars.
Despite being dismissed as a “forgery” by mainstream historians and researchers, a number of prominent figures have promoted it‘s contents, including the American industrialist, Henry Ford, who in February 1921 wrote, “the only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on…. they have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now.”
Many researchers would agree with Gibson’s alleged views regarding the Jewish infiltration of the Catholic Church and his supposed claims that Pope John Paul VI wore an ephod, which was a worship object and article of clothing in ancient Israelite culture worn by the Jewish High Priest:
In the picture below, Pope John Paul VI is said to be wearing the breast-plate of the Ephod with the twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel.
Although few would doubt that Gibson’s past behaviour leaves much to be desired (including Gibson himself), one should perhaps wonder why it happened in the first place and who brought it to the public’s attention. For example, isn’t it reasonable to assume that most Hollywood stars have the odd skeleton or two hidden in their closet which could potentially destroy their careers? Isn’t it true that celebrities are protected from such dangers by talented publicists and aides who make it their job to deter such ‘dirty laundry’ from being exposed in the public arena? If so, why has Mel Gibson slipped through the net? Was it because his angry rants and racial slurs were too difficult to conceal from the glare of publicity, or was it because of the subject-matter explored in ‘The Passion of the Christ’? After all, few would dispute the fact that most of the American movie and media industry is owned and/or controlled by Jews. In April 2011, Jim Caviezel claimed that his decision to take on the lead role of Jesus in Gibson’s movie had ultimately made him an outcast in Hollywood. Speaking to a church audience in Orlando, he recalled how the ’Braveheart’ actor initially offered him the part, only to call him back 20 minutes later begging him not to take it and warning him that he‘d “never work in this town again.”
As for the taped telephone conversations between Gibson and Oksana, were they tampered with as he and a number of forensic experts claimed? Were the recordings used as tools of extortion against him? Was Oksana out to “ruin” his career? Were his alleged views regarding a “Jewish/Masonic” conspiracy as documented in Eszterhas’ nine-page letter just one step too far for Hollywood movie bosses? Indeed, what about Eszterhas himself? Were his intentions entirely honourable, and was he acting alone?
Another major star who publicly questioned controversial events in history and later suffered a similar fall from grace and very public meltdown was Charlie Sheen. A prominent advocate of the 9/11 Truth movement for a number of years, he was just weeks away from taking part in a documentary about the anomalies surrounding the September 11th attacks when he suddenly appeared as a guest on the Alex Jones radio-show sounding incoherent, confused, and slightly unhinged. During the interview, he made vaguely “anti-Semitic” comments against Chuck Lorre, the producer of the hit show, ‘Two and a Half Men.’ Sheen was sacked from his lead role in the comedy just weeks later. Many who heard the broadcast asked whether the ’Wall Street’ star was under the influence of drugs, after all, the actor had previously spent time in rehab and been in trouble with the law over his illegal substance abuse. Similar to Gibson‘s disputes with Oksana, Sheen had also experienced a high-profile rift in his personal life after being arrested for physically abusing his third wife, Brooke Mueller.
Interestingly, Gibson, a known critic of the Iraq war which emerged in the wake of the September 11th attacks, had originally agreed to finance Michael Moore’s 2004 movie-documentary, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ which takes a critical look at the presidency of George W. Bush, the ‘War on Terror,’ and it’s coverage by the news-media. Moore later claimed that his agent had told him that “top Republicans” had contacted the “ultra-Conservative” Gibson to tell him, “don’t expect to get more invitations to the White House.”
Would it be too outrageous to suggest that one or both of these high-profile yet volatile actors were perhaps under some form of mind-control and had been manipulated in one way or another in order to damage their fame and influence so that their views on a number of conspiracy theories wouldn’t be taken seriously by the world at large?
At this point in time, one’s guess is perhaps as good as another’s, although we can be fairly certain that we haven’t heard the last of Mel Gibson and his ongoing troubles.
MEL GIBSON MOVIES WORTHY OF NOTE
** The ‘Mad Max’ series (1979/1981/1985)
The first instalment in the hugely successful trilogy charts the downfall of Max Rockatansky who polices the violent highways of a dystopian future-world in his role as a pursuit-driver for the Main Force Patrol (MFP). Full of rage after his wife and infant son are killed by a dangerous gang, Max exacts his revenge on them before driving into the distance, seemingly without a particular destination in mind. In ‘Mad Max 2,’ we find Rockatansky wandering the post-apocalyptic desert in his battered car still traumatised by the death of his family, and scavenging for food and petrol which has become a precious commodity. He eventually ends up helping a community of settlers to defend themselves against a band of marauders in exchange for fuel. The third movie, ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,’ takes up the story 15 years on from the previous film and once again we see Rockatansky roaming the desert, although without his car. Instead, he rides a camel-drawn wagon which is later stolen from him when he is attacked by a pilot who spots him from the skies. Max continues on foot until he reaches Bartertown which is run by the ruthless Aunty Entity (played by Tina Turner). After Max reneges on an agreement with her, she exiles him, casting him out into the desert wasteland strapped to the back of a horse, although he’s later saved from death due to exposure by a group of children who are descendants of a Boeing 747 crash. They dream of one day returning to their ancestors’ former civilisation, which they call, “Tomorrow-morrow Land.” Max assists them in achieving this goal, and they eventually reach Sydney, Australia which has become nothing but a wasteland of ruins.
** Gallipoli (1981)
An Australian World War I drama directed by Peter Weir in which Gibson stars as Frank Dunne, an unemployed railway worker who’s also a fast runner. He uses his talent to try and win money at an athletics carnival but is ultimately defeated by 18-year-old Archie, an idealistic prize-winning sprinter who is desperate to join the army so that he can fight for his country. The two become friends and eventually decide to enlist together. They’re sent to Turkey, where they take part in the Gallipoli Campaign. During the course of the movie, Archie slowly loses his innocence about the purpose of war. The climax of the film occurs on the Anzac battlefield at Gallipoli and depicts the futile attack at the Battle of the Nek on 7th August 1915.
Although a hit with audiences on it’s release, the movie attracted criticism for it’s historical inaccuracies and unfair portrayal of the British army and it’s leadership.
** The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Once again directed by Weir, the story is set in Indonesia during the overthrow of President Sukarno. It follows a group of foreign correspondents in Jakarta on the eve of an attempted coup by the ‘30 September Movement’ in 1965. Gibson stars as Guy Hamilton, an Australian journalist who later discovers that the Communist Chinese are arming President Sukarno’s government, The Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) in order to counter-balance the power of the military.
Sukarno initially came to the public’s attention during the 1920s as the leader of his country’s struggle for independence from the Netherlands. In his formative years as a young student, he developed his own political ideology of Indonesian-style Socialist self-sufficiency. In 1927, the 26-year-old Sukarno established a pro-independence party, ’Partai Nasional Indonesia’ (PNI), that opposed imperialism and capitalism. He was elected as it’s first leader although he was later sentenced to four years in prison by Dutch colonial authorities after the PNI began to attract a large number of followers eager for greater freedoms. He was released from prison early due to strong pressure from liberal elements both in the Netherlands and Dutch East Indies. By this time, Sukarno had become a popular hero-figure, although the PNI had been disbanded by the Dutch. As his activities once again began to attract attention, he was arrested and exiled to the remote town of Endes on the island of Flores, although he was later moved to the western coast of Sumatera.
After Imperial Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies in February 1942, Sukarno was approached by the Japanese high command who wanted him to pacify the Indonesians and use their manpower and natural resources to help in the war effort. Sukarno offered them his support in exchange for a platform which he could use to spread nationalist ideas to the mass population.
Shipped back to Jakarta, the Japanese made Sukarno head of the mass-organisation movement, ‘Tiga-A’ and, ‘Poesat Tenaga Rakjat’ (POETERA/ Concentration of People’s Power) in order to galvanise popular support for recruitment of forced labour, requisitioning of food, and to promote pro-Japanese and anti-western sentiments amongst the Indonesians.
Following the end of the war, the Philippines fell into American hands. They allowed for the establishment of, ‘Badan Penjelidik Oesaha-oesaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia’ (BPUPKI), a quasi-legislature consisting of 67 representatives from most ethnic-groups in Indonesia. Sukarno was appointed it’s head and tasked to lead discussion in order for the formation of a future Indonesian state.
Sukarno developed five principles known as ‘Pancasila,’ which were announced in June 1945 during the joint session of BPUPKI. Regarded as a fusion of Marxism, Nationalism and Islam, it included Indonesian-style democracy which was different from Western-style liberalism, an introduction of populist Socialism in economics with Marxist-style opposition to free capitalism which intended to provide equal share of the economy to all Indonesians (as opposed to the complete economic domination by the Dutch and Chinese during the colonial period), and tolerance of all religions. The Japanese eventually allowed the formation of a smaller organisation (PPKI) before surrendering to the allies in the wake of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.
Sukarno declared the independence of the Republic of Indonesia in August 1945 and became the country‘s President. That same year, he formed a parliamentary system of government over fears his history as a Japanese collaborator might cause problems in relations with Western countries. However, tired of his position as a figure-head leader, Sukarno called for a system of “guided democracy” in 1956 and eventually dismantled the parliamentary system and appointed a non-partisan Prime Minister. He also nationalised Dutch companies that had dominated the Indonesian economy and expelled 40,000 Dutch citizens and confiscated their properties. He then banned commercial activities by foreign nationals in foreign areas.
In 1959, Sukarno successfully defeated an overthrow attempt by CIA-funded rebels who were opposed to the growing influence of Communism. He then introduced a Presidential system under his ’guided democracy’ in which he envisioned an Indonesian-style Socialist society. His political opponents were arrested and newspapers critical of his leadership were closed down. By the mid 1960s, Indonesia had formally withdrawn from the United Nations and Sukarno banned American movies, books and music. Beatles records were burned and an Indonesian band, Koes Plus was jailed for playing western-style Rock music. The country had only one TV and radio station. Both became Sukarno’s tools of propaganda, as did all the newspapers.
The country suffered major economic problems during this period resulting in hyperinflation exceeding 600% per annum in 1964-1965.
By this time, the military were growing increasingly wary of Sukarno’s leadership and his close alliance with Communist China. The abortive coup documented in Weir’s movie was instigated by a clique of military conspirators in September 1965. It was overturned by Sukarno’s commander of the Jakarta garrison, Suharto. In October he was appointed Army Chief to replace Ahmad Yani, who had been killed in the failed coup.
By the beginning of 1966, Sukarno’s leadership was looking increasingly fragile as university students started demonstrating against him demanding that he disband the PKI. In March of that year, they ransacked the foreign ministry, and managed to hold it for five hours.
Sukarno was eventually forced to sign a Presidential order by pro-Suharto generals that assigned him to “take all measures considered necessary to guarantee security, calm and stability of the government and the revolution and to guarantee the personal safety and authority” of Sukarno. The order effectively handed over authority to Suharto. A number of historians and researchers have questioned the authenticity of the document and debated whether he was forced to sign it, perhaps even at gunpoint.
In the summer of 1966, Indonesia announced it would rejoin the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations. Sukarno denounced the move in his annual independence speech in August 1966 and stated that he had not transferred power to Suharto. This provoked an angry reaction from demonstrators who called for Sukarno to be put on trial.
Increasingly marginalised, and disconnected from his loyalist supporters, Sukarno was stripped of his Presidential title in January 1967 and placed under house arrest. He died of kidney failure in June 1970. Suharto became Indonesia’s second President in March 1968.
Weir’s movie portrays the PKI as being solely responsible for the coup and makes no reference to several theories that have linked it to the CIA, the UK’s Foreign Office and MI6 intelligence service.
The bulk of the movie was shot in the Philippines after the cast and crew were denied permission to film in Indonesia. However, they were eventually forced to move the production to Australia after both Weir and Gibson received death threats.
** Air America (1990)
Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. co-star in this action-comedy ‘buddy movie’ as pilots of the US cargo and passenger airline, ‘Air America,’ which in real-life had actually been covertly owned by the CIA in order to carry out secret operations during the Vietnam war. A number of it’s former pilots have alleged that it was also used to transport drugs. Indeed, the movie charts Gibson’s and Downey Jr.’s characters as they attempt to avoid becoming ‘patsies’ in a frame-up after discovering that their planes are being used by government agents to smuggle heroin.
The film was based on the 1979 non-fiction book of the same name by Christopher Robbins who chronicles the CIA’s involvement with the controversial airline during the Vietnam war. In it, he writes how ‘Air America’ helicopters collected the opium harvests of 1970 and 1971, then flew the crop to the base of Hmong leader, Vang Pao in Long Tieng in the mountains of northern Laos, where it was turned into heroin at the general’s drug laboratory. “Here was this vast complex of airlines,” states Robbins, “which had flown guerrillas into Tibet, supported rebels in Indonesia and Cuba, supplied a secret army in Laos, and obeyed the paramilitary, covert will of the CIA throughout the world.” He also claims that, “the Nationalist Chinese army, organized by the CIA to wage war against Communist China, became the opium barons of The Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand and Laos), the world’s largest source of opium and heroin. Air America, the CIA’s principal airline proprietary, flew the drugs all over Southeast Asia.”
Robbins has gone on the record to attack the movie’s depiction of his book, which he claims has turned a “tragic story of the secret war in Laos” into a “daft comedy.“
** Braveheart (1995)
Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior who gained recognition when he came to the forefront of the First War of Scottish Independence by opposing King Edward I of England. Randall Wallace, the writer of the screenplay, has acknowledged Blind Harry’s 15th century epic poem, ‘The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie’ as a major source of inspiration for the film.
The film is credited by Lin Anderson, author of ‘Braveheart: From Hollywood To Holyrood’ as having played a significant role in affecting the Scottish political landscape in the mid to late 1990s. For example, it’s release in 1995, and the opening of the Scottish parliament in 1999, is thought to have instigated a partial revival of Scottish nationalism. However, the movie has also been accused of Anglophobia. One magazine review labelled it, “xenophobic,” whilst Colin MacArthur, author of ‘Brigadoon, Braveheart and the Scots: Distortions of Scotland in Hollywood Cinema,’ is concerned that it appeals to “neo-fascist groups and the attendant psyche.” The ‘Independent’ newspaper noted that, “the Braveheart phenomenon, a Hollywood-inspired rise in Scottish nationalism, has been linked to a rise in anti-English prejudice.”
The movie also came under fire for it’s historical inaccuracies. Historian Sharon Krossa notes that the film’s “events aren’t accurate, the dates aren’t accurate, the characters aren’t accurate, the names aren’t accurate, the clothes aren’t accurate – in short, just about nothing is accurate.” Indeed, even the name, “Braveheart” is generally accepted as having originated from Robert the Bruce – not William Wallace.
Also known as Robert I the King of Scots, Bruce was born to Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale and Marjorie, Countess of Carrick, a lineage that would give him claim to the Scottish throne in later years.
Bruce supported the Scottish revolt against Edward I and briefly succeeded as Guardian of Scotland after William Wallace’s resignation.
After failing to damage the Scots’ fighting ability during his sixth campaign into Scotland in 1301, King Edward agreed to a truce and Robert pledged to support him. Edward invaded Scotland again in 1303 and all the leading Scots surrendered to him, with the exception of Wallace. He was eventually captured near Glasgow and hung, drawn and quartered in London in August 1305.
Bruce believed he had a strong claim to the throne, but also was of the view that this could only realistically take place after Edward’s death. He also acknowledged the lineage and reputation of his contemporary, the powerful noble, John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch. It’s claimed that Comyn agreed to forfeit his claim to the Scottish throne in exchange for all of Bruce’s’ English and Scottish estates should an uprising occur. It’s also been written that Comyn betrayed this agreement, culminating in a meeting between the two in February 1306 in the Church of Greyfriars in Dumfries where Bruce accused him of treachery before stabbing him to death with his dagger.
He eventually launched a successful campaign for the independence of Scotland. The English surrendered and Robert was crowned king, although he was excommunicated by the Pope because he murdered Comyn in a church.
A year after finally signing the treaty confirming Scotland as a unique and independent kingdom with Robert I at its head, he died of natural causes. Plagued by guilt over his failure to go on crusade during his lifetime and atone for his sins, most notably, with regards to the murder of John Comyn, he requested that his friend and ally, Sir James Douglas remove his heart on his death and carry it in battle “against God’s foes.”
Bruce’s preserved heart was placed in a silver casket, which Douglas then carried on a chain around his neck. He then sailed to Spain where he was killed in battle, but not before taking the heart held by a chain, swinging it around his head and shouting at the top of his voice, “lead on Braveheart, as thou dost!” It is said his body and the casket containing the embalmed heart were found together upon the field.
‘Braveheart’ director Mel Gibson has acknowledged that there are many historical inaccuracies in his movie, but defends his decision to include them, noting that the way events were portrayed in the film were much more “cinematically compelling” than actual historical fact.
More controversy followed in 1997, when a 12-ton sandstone statue depicting Gibson as William Wallace in ‘Braveheart’ was placed in the car park of the Wallace Monument near Stirling, Scotland. It became the cause of much controversy. One local resident stated that it was wrong to “desecrate the main memorial to Wallace with a lump of crap.” In 1998 the face on the statue was vandalised by someone wielding a hammer. In 2008, the statue was returned to its sculptor to make room for a new visitor centre being built at the foot of the Wallace Monument.
** Conspiracy Theory (1997)
In this action-thriller, Mel Gibson stars as, Jerry Fletcher, an “obsessive-compulsive” New York taxi-driver who lectures his passengers on various conspiracy theories. His friend, Alice Sutton (played by Julia Roberts), works at the US Justice Department for the District Attorney and is also trying to solve the murder of her father, a respected judge.
After Jerry identifies some men on the street as CIA, they capture him and take him to a mental hospital where psychiatrist, Dr. Jonas (Patrick Stewart) injects him with LSD, and tortures and interrogates him, although he later manages to escape. Further on in the movie, Alice is informed by Dr. Jonas that Jerry was an MK-ULTRA subject whose project had been terminated. He also tells her that Jerry killed her father, a claim later confirmed by Jerry himself when he begins to remember details of his past that he has had difficulty piecing together. He tells her that he was sent to murder her father because he was about to expose Jonas’ covert operation.
The movie also makes a number of references to the JD Salinger novel, ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’ which Jerry feels compelled to buy.
This particular book has, of course, been a source of debate for a number of researchers and authors over the years who believe it has been used by the intelligence services to cultivate and create MK-ULTRA-controlled assassins, most notably, John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman. For example, instead of escaping the scene of his crime, Chapman reached into his pocket and took out a copy of the book and began to read it whilst waiting for the police to arrive. After his subsequent arrest, Chapman told psychiatrists that he identified with the story’s principal character, Holden Caulfield and even wrote a letter to the media recommending people read the book in order to help “understand what has happened.” Chapman claims he murdered Lennon because he was a “phoney,” a term widely used by Caulfield in Salinger‘s story. Some believe the book was a trigger-device that activated Chapman to kill the former Beatle. The novel was also associated with the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. and the shooting of American TV and movie actress, Rebecca Schaeffer who was killed by Robert John Bardo. The similarities don’t end there; all three gunmen were described in the mainstream media as “obsessed fans” and “stalkers.” For example, Chapman had stood outside his potential target’s luxury home on more than one occasion. In fact, he even succeeded in asking Lennon to autograph a copy of his latest album just hours before gunning him down in cold blood. Bardo had stalked Schaeffer for three years before finally pulling the trigger, and Reagan’s would-be killer claims he made the attempt on the then-President’s life in order to impress the actress, Jodie Foster who it’s said he developed an obsession for after seeing her in the film, ’Taxi Driver.’
** Signs (2002)
The story focuses on a former preacher named Graham Hess (played by Gibson), who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfield. He slowly becomes convinced that the phenomena are a result of extra terrestrial life, a belief that is later confirmed when someone he knows informs him that he’s trapped an alien inside his home. The movie then follows Graham’s efforts to fight off the growing number of extra-terrestrials that begin appearing outside his own house.
** Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)
A movie-documentary exploring the history of the electric car and the role of automobile manufacturers, oil companies and the US government (namely, President George W. Bush) in limiting it’s development. Gibson is one of a number of celebrities and US political figures interviewed for the film. Also appearing are, Tom Hanks, Ralph Nader and ex-CIA head, James Woolsey.
The film documents a number of motives that may have been instrumental in killing off the development and potential popularity of the electric car, such as oil companies’ fears of losing their monopoly on transportation fuel, and the car industries’ concerns of a long term loss in revenue due to the fact that electrically-operated vehicles require little maintenance.
** Apocalypto (2006)
Directed by Gibson and starring a cast of Mayas and some other people of Native American descent, this action-adventure film is set in Yucatan, Mexico, during the declining period of the Maya civilization. It depicts the journey of a Mesoamerican tribesman who must escape human sacrifice and rescue his family after the capture and destruction of his village. The movie uses Yucatec dialogue and is accompanied by subtitles.
Both Gibson and the movie’s screenwriter and producer, Farhad Safinia researched ancient Maya history, reading both creation and destruction myths, including sacred texts such as the ‘Popul Vuh.’ Richard D. Hansen was hired as a consultant in a bid to make the movie as historically accurate as possible. He was a specialist in the Maya, assistant professor of archaeology at Idaho State University, and director of the Mirador Basin Project, an effort to preserve a large swath of the Guatemalan rain forest and its Maya ruins. Despite these efforts, there was no shortage of criticism. For example, William Booth of The Washington Post wrote that the film depicts the Maya as a “super-cruel, psycho-sadistic society on the skids, a ghoul-scape engaged in widespread slavery, reckless sewage treatment and bad rave dancing, with a real lust for human blood.” Anthropologist, Traci Ardren wrote that ‘Apocalypto’ was biased because “no mention is made of the achievements in science and art, the profound spirituality and connection to agricultural cycles, or the engineering feats of Maya cities.“ Art history professor and Mesoamerican specialist, Julia Guernsey said, “I think it’s despicable. It’s offensive to Maya people. It’s offensive to those of us who try to teach cultural sensitivity and alternative world views that might not match our own 21st century Western ones but are nonetheless valid.”
The movie has also been criticised for portraying a type of human sacrifice which was more common with the Aztecs than the Maya. In defence, the film’s technical advisor claimed the movie was meant to describe the post-classic period of the Maya when fiercer influences like the Toltecs and Aztecs arrived. According to Hansen, “we know warfare was going on. The Post-classic centre of Tulum is a walled city; these sites had to be in defensive positions. There was tremendous Aztec influence by this time. The Aztecs were clearly ruthless in their conquest and pursuit of sacrificial victims, a practice that spilled over into some of the Maya areas.” Despite the negative response from many scholars and experts, the movie was released to generally positive reviews.