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.