LOS ANGELES, Dec. 4 — With some early reviews lauding the audacity and innovation of Mel Gibson's bloody Mayan epic, "Apocalypto," Hollywood’s tight-knit community of Oscar voters may find itself facing a difficult dilemma in the coming weeks: Will they consider the film for an Academy Award?
Andrew Cooper/Walt Disney Studios
Fernando Hernandez, front, in a scene from the violent Mayan epic, “Apocalypto,” directed by Mel Gibson.
Since Mr. Gibson’s drunken tirade against Jews last summer, many people in Hollywood swore — both publicly and privately — that they would not work with him again or see his movies.
But that was before the critics began to weigh in on “Apocalypto,” a two-hour tale about a peaceful village of hunter-gatherers who are attacked and enslaved by the bloodthirsty overlords of their Meso-American civilization.
Mr. Gibson wrote, directed, produced and financed the film, much as he did “The Passion of the Christ,” his surprise 2004 blockbuster; the Walt Disney Company is distributing the film.
“Apocalypto,” which will open on 2,500 screens across the country on Friday, is as different from a typical Hollywood film as Mr. Gibson’s last one: it features unrelenting, savage violence, is told in an obscure Mayan language and uses many nonprofessional actors with a primitive look born far from Hollywood.
Most critics (including this newspaper’s) have yet to weigh in on “Apocalypto,” but the excitement of those who have — like that among journalists who lingered to debate the film after a screening ended in Los Angeles last week — has been palpable.
“ ‘Apocalypto’ is a remarkable film,” Todd McCarthy wrote in Variety. “The picture provides a trip to a place one’s never been before, offering hitherto unseen sights of exceptional vividness and power.”
“Gibson has made a film of blunt provocation and bruising beauty,” Peter Travers wrote in Rolling Stone. “Say what you will about Gibson, he’s a filmmaker right down to his nerve endings.”