The Mel Gibson movie Quentin Tarantino called a “masterpiece”


Mel Gibson is a divisive figure in the landscape of contemporary cinema. Accused of homophobia and anti-Semitism on multiple occasions, Gibson was blacklisted from Hollywood, following which he made his return with Hacksaw Ridge. Despite the backlash against his views, Gibson’s films have received numerous accolades, and Quentin Tarantino even considers one of Gibson’s works to be a true “masterpiece”.

Over the years, Gibson has accumulated some of the most prestigious prizes within the film industry. Ranging from multiple Oscar wins for Braveheart to AACTA Awards for Hacksaw Ridge, Gibson has drawn critical attention and acclaim for his directorial style, but personal issues have complicated his legacy.

During a 2008 Sight & Sound interview, Quentin Tarantino was asked about his opinions on digital cinematography and its practitioners. For a long time, Tarantino has maintained that digital cinema is detrimental to the medium’s future, but he made some concessions while discussing the practice during this conversation.

“To me, 97% of the use of digital is laziness,” Tarantino claimed. “They are trying to make it easier on themselves, and it shows. But in those cases where they are creating a whole new cinematic landscape, I can’t be churlish about that. I’ve got to give it up. It adds another possibility in which to tell stories, and create pictures.”

According to Tarantino, digital filmmaking might open up different ways of conceptualising cinema, but it is often used as a tool of convenience rather than innovation. The acclaimed filmmaker criticised prominent directors such as David Fincher for using digital cinematography, insisting that the results are uninteresting.

There was one digitally filmed work which fooled Tarantino when he first saw it, and that was Apocalypto. A 2006 historical epic by Mel Gibson, the film follows the journey of a Mesoamerican hunter during the decline of the great Mayan civilisation. The film was a critical and commercial success, admired by directors such as Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.

At the time, Tarantino called Apocalypto the greatest cinematic achievement of that year. He later reflected: “I thought Apocalypto was a masterpiece. Then I found out [Mel Gibson] did it in digital and it lessened the effort for me. Using a Mount Everest analogy again, the mountain got smaller and the achievement was a little less.”


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