Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mel Gibson's Upcoming "Berserker" and "Maccabees" Will be Catholic Films

Saint Olaf II, Martyr

Edit: There's an old platitude that to know history is to be Catholic, and so Mel Gibson is taking on two historical projects guaranteed to treat Christian themes.

On the one hand, you're bound to see the heroic resistance of the Christians as the terrible Vikings come down and destroy their world.  Perhaps we will hear of the brave resistance of Alfred the Great and how he magnanimously introduced the Vikings he conquered into his household?

Perhaps he'll tell the story of the conversion of St. Olaf who went down fighting gloriously at the Battle of Skittelstad on July 29th 1030 and accomplished more as a martyred Saint, than a great but merely heroic epitome of valor, to win over his battle hearty people to the true religion of peace.

Our speculations aside, it's clear that the Viking film is going to be made, it's going to be called "Berserker" [Literally, bare shirt fighter].  He looks determined to make it.

Despite his efforts to make a film about the scirptural story of Maccabees , there are many who look in askance at the effort.  They view it cynically as an attempt to coddle Jewish sensibilities in the wake of his "tirade".  In reality, Maccabees is a Catholic story which should cause modern Jews, and not a few Catholics,  to reconsider what they believe.  It is a story of how God used a small band of Jews to liberate Palestine in one of the most amazing upsets in history.

Don't look for it in a protestant Bible, unless it says "apocrypha" included.  Also, it's not really Apocrypha, it's part of the Biblical Canon and the reservations of a few biblical scholars and Protestants should not stop you from meditating on how it points to Catholic teachings like purgatory.

"2 Maccabees 12:46: "Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin."

If you're a Catholic, you should expect to see a lot of Catholic references in both films.  Mel's trying to make up for his failings by doing good works, like helping Whitney Houston with her addictions, which earned him some admiration and gratitude from the family who invited him to her funeral in Newark, New Jersey.

Whatever he decides to do with these complimentary and beautiful subjects, they will be two things:  great stories,  Catholic stories.

The following is an interview and it was well done:
Los Angeles Times] Reserved and reflective, Mel Gibson came to the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood to celebrate the legacy of his “Mad Max” films but, of course, the 56-year-old star’s recent career calamities were the silent passenger that accompanied him during the trip down memory lane.
Thirty-three years have passed since ”Mad Max” exploded on the scene with a high concept and a low budget (about $400,000) and began the minting of an international movie star. Sitting in the dark with the time-capsule moment, Gibson found it hard to recognize his 21-year-old self up on the screen. “I thought,” he said, “it was one of my kids.”
Above, you can watch the full video from the American Cinematheque event where I interviewed Gibson about the career-launching franchise and you’ll hear that the conversation veered off at times to his filmmaking future, the TMZ era and the emotional wear and tear of recent seasons. There was also a lot of applause — and two standing ovations — from the sell-out crowd. And, for that, the two-time Oscar winner seemed truly thankful.
Watch video, here....


  1. "To know history is to be Catholic" - well he didn't know much when it came to Braveheart!
    I like his acting immensely, just hope that he can slay his demons.

  2. Braveheart had a lot more in common with Mad Max. Even "We Were Soldiers Once" was slightly panned by General Hal Moore, but it told a good story and it was sympathetic to the men who fought at the battle on both sides, although it was clearly a pro-American film.

  3. Mr Collins is right on the money in his observations about the historical nonsense that BRAVEHEART was. Patrick McGoohan tried very hard to guide Mr Gibson into a better historical understanding of that episode but to no avail. It remained merely another superficial "freedom-fighter" melodrama.

    As far as acting ability is concerned there I fear I must take issue with Mr Collins' evaluations. I recall an ironic observation of one long-time (and quite distinguished) critic who pointed out that the only performer in that film who was not nominated for an Academy Award for acting in BRAVEHEART was the only one who could really act: Patrick McGoohan.

  4. I know of an Ivy League Historian who uses Mad Max to teach history. I'll leave it up to your judgment whether or not Mad Max has anything to offer an undergraduate at Yale any insight about civilization and its fall.

    There's more to cinema than historical accuracy. There's psychology, a system of values and ideals which are presented in a beautiful setting to elevate and inspire.

    As far as historical accuracy goes, with the exception of a Bridge too Far [Critically acclaimed box office flop], I can't think of a film that placed a premium on historical accuracy. It reminds me of Waugh's comment about the human excellence of Hollywood technicians who could tell you the orders that Wellington wore at Waterloo, but didn't see forest for the trees.

    Most of the people I've talked to about Gibson's work who complain about the lack of historical accuracy in his films often disagree with the moral messages they contain.

    If Gibson's films have any message for me, it's that if God intends to save Gibson, that no one is out of reach.

    His film making and the opportunities he's had to present this message have become for him a moment of grace for him to become more than what he'd be by surrendering to God's will. At least that's what I have seen him do in the past with other films.

    I do think he's a better director/producer than an actor, but I enjoy his performances, particularly the very semi-autobiographical "Man Without a Face".

  5. When are the release dates?

    And where to go to understand the Hollywoodness of Braveheart?