I watched Apocalypto on Christmas Eve. Just that sentence sounds like a paradox. Afterward, I went online to read some discussions about this highly controversial film. Personally, I wasn’t that impressed with the movie. It was alright, but nothing spectacular. The plot was fairly straightforward (to the point of simplicity) and that was reinforced by the discussion boards I found at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com). Page after page of discussion had little to do with the actual picture (after watching the film, you’ll notice that there just isn’t much left to question) and everything to do with the popular opinion that Mel Gibson is an ass.
Now I’m the last person to come to the defense of Gibson’s idiotic summer tirade of anti-Semitism, but why is everyone so surprised that he can be a talented filmmaker/artist and a jerk? My hero, Jackson Pollock, was a class-A creep, as was Picasso, de Kooning and a host of other great artists. One of my favorite films is Woody Allen’s faux-documentary “Sweet and Lowdown” about Emmet Ray, the second greatest jazz guitarist that ever lived. The film portrays Ray as a kleptomaniac, a selfish womanizer and a guy whose favorite hobby is to “go to the dump and shoot rats”; but even in the film portrayal there is little doubt that he was a great artist, because he didn’t play notes he played emotion.
Are all artists creeps? No – Chagall was a notoriously nice guy. Matisse seems to have been pretty swell as were the majority of the Impressionists. However, for many artists I believe the very nature of the artistic process demands intermittent moments of self-involved greed. I know for me and my work… that’s the only way to get anything accomplished. – DN