Gibson Faces Apocalypto Now
Mel directs another historical epic (Empire Online)
22 July 2005
Last year, he made one of the world's biggest ever indie films. Now, Mel Gibson is returning to ancient history to write and direct Apocalypto, which readers may be relieved / disappointed to know is "not religious in theme" and which is, we're promised, more of an action movie.
The story is set in "an ancient civilisation" some 3,000-odd years ago. While the title might suggest that this is the mother of all disaster movies, it is in fact a Greek word meaning "an unveiling" or a "new beginning", rather than, say, the end of all creation (cause, you know, we're still here). ...
Obviously related to the word "apocalyptic," which does mean "revelation" or "unveiling." "Apocalypto" looks faux-Italian to me.
What's not clear is whether this is the same ancient action movie that Gibson was planning last year. That was based on the Jewish story of the Maccabees, a group that rose up in rebellion against a corrupt King, and reconsecrated the defiled Temple in Jerusalem. However, the fact that their story, while not Biblical, is the basis for the Jewish feast of Hanukah, and that this film is not religious in theme, means that he may have written a different story in the intervening months.
If Gibson did say the movie is set 3000 years ago, it can't be about the Maccabean revolt. It took place in 167-165 BCE, less than 2200 years ago. This wouldn't have been all that hard to look up.
What happened to Boudicca?
The only promising event from 3000 years ago I can think of is the conquest of Jerusalem by David, but that's just a wild guess. It may be from an entirely different part of the world. We'll see. If he really does this one, I hope it's filmed in another ancient language.
UPDATE: Carla Sulzbach e-mails:
now, here's an idea: a movie about the destruction of Ugarit - that's only slightly over 3000 years ago. There are many questions to be apocalypted: who where the Ugaritans, how was the city destroyed, and.... most vexing: how correctly to vocalize that tantalizing language. Subtitles could be in cuneiform, Hebrew and Roman and perhaps in Aramaic for Mel's earlier audience. This could be followed up by Ugaritic action figures - cool gods too!
Just an idea on another very hot day.
UPDATE (25 July): The mystery is revealed here.