Mel Colmcille Gerard Gibson proves yet again he is a master in his craft. His new movie Hacksaw Ridge has been released this past month and is said to have received a 10 minute standing ovation at its premier. I can only imagine what the audience must have been left feeling with when I remember the deep impressions that Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ left on me. I got Goosebumps and my heart beat fast just watching the trailer.
Gibson intrigues me more and more. The impression I got from reading more about him is that he seems to be either hated or loved. I guess a common theme with which he is described is controversy.
He knocks people off their feet with the films he produces. The characters in the movies he directs are inspirational and typically based on a true story. They are people who are driven by conviction and who refuse to compromise on their values. They are Freedom Fighters, Redeemed Outcasts, Saviours and Soldiers whose lifestyles force you to reflect on your own.
However, dating from his rather turbulent time since 2006, names that have been associated with Gibson are less attractive: racist, misogynist, anti-Semite, addict, second-time divorcee, alcoholic… and the list goes on.
Needless to say, his reputation is more than slightly tainted. Gibson does not measure up to his characters. His scandals and actions are unacceptable and irreversible. His response is impressive though.
We do not see him shift the blame. In interviews we see him taking responsibility, apologizing and moving on.
Being asked if his racist comments might have been the result of his father’s strong views, he responded: “We’re talking about me here right now and me taking responsibility for my words and actions and I’m certainly not going to use him [his father] to put anything off me.”
Sure, they could and have been described as ‘supposedly heartfelt apologies’, it is up to you to draw the conclusion. But what I see behind his actions is a regretful heart and a willingness to change.
When confronted about his battle with alcohol addiction, he replied,
“Sometimes you need a cold bucket of water in the face to ‘snap to’. And some people need a big tap on the shoulder. In my case, public humiliation on a global scale seems to be what was required.”
Mel knows more than anybody that he is a work in progress. He is a survivor. As a matter of fact, that is the same word he describes his relationship with Hollywood as: survival.
He continues his fight to tell stories that are greater than his own. He inspires audiences with characters that have had the courage to stay true to their convictions which he failed to do, but still wants to improve in.
He is an amazing example for being willing to redeem his situation and to surpass his current situation. He recalls a low point in his lonely career as an international star:
“I got to a very desperate place. Very desperate. And I didn’t want to hang around here, but I didn’t want to check out. But when you get to the point where you don’t want to live, and you don’t want to die – it’s a desperate, horrible place to be.”
Fortunately, he chose to rise above his situation! Maybe Gibson was inspired by William Wallace when he took on the role of the Scottish knight who says, “Every man dies, not every man truly lives.”
And he is grabbing life by the horns, changing his life and countless lives in his audiences. Through the incredible medium of film, he is able to touch every viewer on a deeply personal level.
What I love about Gibson, is that he is using this gift for the good of his audiences. He is calling us and himself out on our apathy and selfishness and encourages us to be a better version of ourselves.
In order to tell these stories, he had to take risks, face incredible amounts of criticism, dig into his own pockets and sacrifice relationships so that we can have an experience that touches us on deepest levels.
He chose redemption.
And for that, I take my hat off! Thank you Mel Gibson!