Friday, August 04, 2006

Mutiny in Fair Hope

August 4

I never would have thought I'd write two posts about Mel Gibson, and when I read the early A.M. comment from John of Sweden I almost changed my mind, but what the hell. There are some posts on this blog that even my best fans are going to object to.

Night before last, before the .3 mgs. of melatonin did its work, I saw one of the movie channels was playing the remake of Mutiny on the Bounty with Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh and Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian. I watched bits of it, intrigued more with the problem of aesthetic weight than artistic merit or the question of why Hollywood is compelled to try to replicate a perfectly fine antique. The original, with Charles Laughton and Clark Gabel in the respective leads, was not improved by either the first remake with Marlon Brando or this one.

But I must digress to tell a story about the Brando version. A headline that has haunted me ever since that fiasco -- which involved budget overruns and culminated with the star falling in love in Tahiti and impregnating the lady -- was this: BRANDO TARRIES IN TAHITI; LEAVES BOUNTY.

In the latest Mutiny remake (it's time for a new one, Hollywood: Robert de Niro as Bligh and Leonardo di Caprio as Mr. Christian), I was struck by Anthony Hopkins' ineffectiveness in the role. You just wanted to look anywhere else when he was on. And it wasn't his acting. He was miscast because he wasn't heavy enough for the role. Amazing, the more I watched, the more I thought, "I can't believe it; Anthony Hopkins is a light." There goes the theory that light actors cannot play villains -- could anyone have been a better Hannibal Lechter? Somebody else played it, why can't I remember who? Also shooting that theory, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an excellent actor, is lighter than air, but he was the bad guy in the latest Mission: Impossible. And, with all his versatility, there is something scary about him.

In the original Mutiny on the Bounty, both the leads were very heavy. Clark Gabel was as heavy as any actor of his day or any other day, now that I think of it. Charles Laughton had the gravitas of great classical roles and enormous magnetism -- it was difficult finding a part strong enough for him. And, of course, the black-and-white format made every actor heavier.

None of this has anything to do with Mel Gibson, now that I get back to it. He is heavier than Anthony Hopkins, but less of an actor and probably less of a man. If someone really wants to know something about what makes him tick, try Googling Hutton Gibson. In the meantime, go to the movies.


Benedict S. said...

I once heard a Paul Harvey-like vignette of a guy who was so brutally beaten by muggers that it took many trips to plastic surgeons to restore him to something that looked human. Of course, that man was Mel Gibson. I do not know if there is any truth to the story -- or how much it was exaggerated -- but if it is mostly true then perhaps we have an explanation for a part of Mr. Gibson's offbeat behavior. I cannot see, though, that it would explain his anti-semitism. Maybe we should look to the Australian society as a whole.

Finding Fair Hope said...

I read the same fiction, which a friend had received via email. I assume this particular urban legend had been circulated by Gibson's publicity machine, either paid or just some enthusiastic and creative fans. Gibson's father moved the family to Australia as a protest against the Vietnam war, but is back in this country. He's in Wikipedia, and the true story is scarier than the created one.

John Sweden said...

Boy, wake-up from a nap and you’re suddenly your out on the high seas with Gabel and Laughton. Ah!! the magic of movies. I’m with you on both Laugton and black and white films giving Gravitis to everyone and to the films themselves. I remember back when Ted turner was busy colorizing all those old wonderful black and white films they always seemed to lose something in the translation. “Casablanca” in color was definitely not the same. It was physically and technically in the lighting and its effects. Cinematograhers were able to generate much more mood and atmosphere. I think it goes even deeper as the images are more abstracted in black and white which addresses a deeper level of structural organization in the brain and require an even less suspension of belief. This takes us back to the column on movies and dreams, since most people’s dreams are in black and white. It would make an interesting study to compare the different effects of B&W and color on percption in the movies.

I havn’t seen the “Gibson/Hopkins version but in reading some of the reviews and looking over the cast list I think you’re right Hopkins is a bad choice for Bligh especially against Gibson whose role I would have given to Liam Neeson. The pychological profile of the personal evil embodied by “Hannable Lecther” was perfect a match for Hopkins, whereas the evil in Bligh derives from power of position and its effects on the individual. Laughton was the guy to project that instituional power and hold the the razor’s edge of its cruelty in exercising its effects on personality without being weak.

In terms of the Brando version It was Brando miscast in the Fletcher Christian that tanked the movie for me. He lacked Gable’s charm and was not able to be the convincing natural leader of the men. The story is a great one, I think the 1935 one captured it best as a story and not as history.

Saw one the best of boxing movies last night, with Bo Bridges and Stacy Keach in “Fat City”. Check out the roles by Susan Tyrrell as Uma and especially Curtis Cokes as “Earl”, with only about 20 lines he steals the movie.

Checked out the Hudson Gibson Wikpedia reference and it does explain a lot. More pathetic than scary. I think Bush's Semetism is a lot more scary.

Bert Bananas said...

Mr. Swede, many Christians take pride in their Semetism. Laztheist only take pride in their Semenism. Many Laztheists are powerful Semenists.

And thank you for provoking a new blog topic for me.

Finding Fair Hope said...

Always glad to see my posts inspire comments which inspire other bloggers, Mr. bananas. I'll check it out.

John (America) said...

The dictionary clearly states that racism is: "the notion that one's own ethnic stock is superior", and "discrimination or prejudice based on racism".
Now consider for a moment the merits or the flaws in this definition. Ethnic groups regularly take pride in their heritage and traditions. Many view their culture to be preferred to others. Most classify others as different to them
and seek to bond with their own kind. And when conflict develops between their own people and another ethnic crowd, ranks close within your own. This is a natural outcome of the human condition that has existed from the beginning of
civilized community.

So far, there should be little argument with these distinctions. But Jews are a race, with very similar characteristic, genetic traits, social and cultural
heritage, and a homogeneous ethnic similitude. This is a historic fact that should not be denied. No inference, good or bad, is being made as some may conclude. Surely, one can convert to the Jewish religion from a non Semitic
lineage, but that begs the real issue. Racism as practiced by Zionist towards their Arab Semitic half brothers is undeniable. But is such behavior unnatural or even wrong? Of course the answer lies within which group one identifies with and has sympathy for their cause.