Mel Gibson's Viking Epic Might Be His Final Directing Effort
Though it had been a little over eight years when Mel Gibson finally made his return to acting in Edge of Darkness, released earlier this year, it's only been half that time since he last directed a feature and that was the Mayan epic Apocalypto. We already know that Gibson's next film as a director will be yet another epic, this time set amongst the times of the Vikings, being written by William Monahan (who also wrote Kingdom of Heaven, Edge of Darkness, and The Departed) and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. And now Hero Complex is reporting that this yet-to-be-titled Viking dream project may very well be Gibson's last film as a director.
Over at the Icon Productions offices there was an equally epic five hour meeting to discuss Gibson's Viking project, and since there hasn't really ever been any memorable Viking films, this extended meeting seems a little bold in itself. But when you hear how long Gibson has been thinking about this, it's no surprise that he wants to get it right, and five hours is nothing compared to the time he's been waiting for this opportunity:
“It was the first movie I ever thought about making. I saw it in my mind back when I was teenager. Seriously, it's the first movie I wanted to make. And I think it will be the last film I direct. It's the thing I have been going toward, in a way, since I was young, and I think when it's done I may be finished.”
Boucher says that "the people around Gibson, however, scoff at that notion and say that the Australian-bred actor and auteur is far too restless creatively to ever walk away from filmmaking." I think it would be hard for anybody who is passionate about filmmaking to turn their back on it, but at the same time, after you've completed your dream project at this point in your career (especially if it turns out to be successful) what else is there to do? Much like his attention to historical detail in Apocalypto and Passion of the Christ where he hones right into the native language, this film is not only epic in scope but meticulous in its construction:
"We're going hammer and tongs on the script right now. When I was 16, learning about the history of the English language I became fascinated with Vikings. And I imagined what they would sound like, how would they talk and that's what I will be going for in this film. It's a challenge though. There's never been a good Viking film, not that I've seen. I think I have found the right way to get into it, though, but I don't want to say too much. The real problem is making those guys sympathetic. They were monsters."
Producer Graham King knows the passion that both Gibson and, apparently DiCaprio, have for an awesome Viking story. He also goes on to talk about the difficulties of portraying these "monsters" as real characters:
“We all knew we wanted to do it. It was just a matter of finding what the story would be, who our Viking was. There's not many sympathetic Vikings out there. And you have to find something of sympathy in one of them or what else is there to show, other than blood and guts and rape and pillaging? You can't just show a film that is battle scene after battle scene, you have to show heroism and sympathy."
That's all Hero Complex could muster out of Gibson and King for now, who wouldn't reveal anything about DiCaprio's character or any bits about the story. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what comes out of the woodwork as this film plunges deeper into development and hopefully moves into production. As for this being Gibson's last film as a director, I'm kind of indifferent. Braveheart is fantastic, and religious quibbles aside, Passion of the Christ is emotionally trying and very powerful, but Apocalypto just felt like a retread of other epics before it, including Braveheart. How do you feel about Gibson leaving directing behind?