Will Hollywood fall victim to the Apocalypto Syndrome?
Small screenings of the still-uncompleted film are quietly taking place. The movie is rough around the edges -- temp score and sound, scenes still to be honed.
But the word has seeped out: From Mel Gibson's dark, troubled mind has emerged yet another brilliant exercise in filmmaking, extremely violent, yet compelling. The inner demons that play havoc with his personal life continue to energize his creative vision.
But how will his work be judged? The film is being released not just as "Apocalypto," but as Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto." Will the very community that understandably has been offended by Gibson's inebriated diatribes be willing to pass fair judgment on his artistic contributions?
The film itself represents a defiantly maverick voice. Subtitles run throughout. The cast is totally non-professional. The action is virtually nonstop and the confrontations brutal.
A fiercely original work like this normally would be screened and promoted for Oscar nominations and critics plaudits. This will not be the case with Gibson's film.
Hence, the looming Apocalypto Syndrome: Mel Gibson is not exactly a poster boy for tolerance. And that's the paradox: Acceptance of his work demands exactly that.