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Imagined Encounter: The elusive search for Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto'


Published December 7, 2006

Six days I've been on this perilous river in the Yucatan Peninsula. Finally we've reached the mouth of Mel Gibson's Inner Sanctum where the final scenes of his latest film were to be shot. My crew and I have been sent from Los Angeles to try and reestablish contact with Mel. Nobody's seen or heard from him in months. The studio needs us to get the final cut of "Apocalypto," which was supposed to be finished by now. It needs to be mass-produced for wide release and there's little time left. The boat coasts slowly toward the shore. There is a small wooden dock and lining the beach are what appear to be extras from the movie, still clad in full war regalia. Behind them, an ancient Mayan pyramid rises up, enshrouded by a thick fog.

As the dock gets nearer I can see a man pacing around on the wooden planks. He is tall, lanky and his pants don't quite reach his ankles. His plaid patchwork jacket and his frizzed, erect hair make him look like a harlequin. The boat touches the dock and I step out. Before I even open my mouth he shouts out a "Hey buddy!" I tell him I need to see Mel Gibson. He puts his hand out in front of my face, looks me in the eye and his head appears to convulse in a seizure. "Wh-wh-wh-whoa! You're freaking me out, man! Nobody can see Mr. Gibson, least of all nobody who keeps company with, you know ." He shakes his hand toward the direction of one of my dark-skinned crewmates.

"Come on, man, that's not cool," I say. "I just need to talk to him."

He leans forward and whispers in my ear, "You know he's a great man don't you? He came and helped me when they were all against me!" I nod my head slowly; his breath is a mix of papaya and pipe smoke.

A voice comes booming down from the stairs enshrouded by fog. "Kramer, it's all right. Send him up."

Kramer looks first at me, then back to my crewman, but suddenly pivots around on the heel of his loafers and shakes his hand toward the stairs. "G-g-giddy up then!" I move past the silent, menacing film extras. They clutch their spears a little tighter. The stairs are ancient and crumbling. It seems an eternity to the top of the pyramid, but finally I arrive.

The fog around me has all but dissipated. I can see Mel Gibson clearly now, sitting in a large stone throne. His hair and beard have grown wild and there's either paint, blood or guano smeared around his face and body. He is stripped to the waist and clutches a feathered spear in one hand. Around him the extras playing natives sway in a kind of ambient reverence. I move a few steps closer towards him on the plateau of the pyramid. He smells like whiskey and bat shit. I guess it is guano. The look in his eye doesn't seem entirely human. He stares past me out into the jungle.

"Mel," I say, trying to get his attention. "Mel Gibson!" I snap my fingers. His eyes jerk left into mine.

"Oh, hello." His voice is a great deal calmer than I imagined it would be.

"Mel, what are you doing out here?"

He smiles. "Shooting my new movie, what do you think I'm doing?"

I take a quick survey of the top of the pyramid. "Mel, there aren't any cameras here. Besides, filming ended on 'Apocalypto' six months ago, it's opening Friday and we need the final edit."

Mel begins to sweat. He looks around frantically and signals to one of the natives who gets up and hands him something. "Oh, well, I didn't want to use Jewish Hollywood cameras in this film, I wanted everything to be authentic, so we use these ancient cameras the Mayans used."

He holds up to his eye what appears to be a bundle of bamboo shoots tied together with human hair. For a moment I'm frozen. "Mel, there's been some concern back in Hollywood that you're not entirely . sane."

Mel cocks his head to the side and his crazed eyes get wider. "Really? Yes, well that's what the Jew media would have you believe." He gets up and starts pacing around wildly.

I put my hand on his shoulder to try and stop him. It's slimy; I wipe my hand on my pants.

"Mel, look around, what the hell are you doing here? What happened to you? You used to have a career. You were Mad Max, Lieutenant Martin Riggs - hell, you were William fucking Wallace. You need to get a hold of yourself and come back down to earth. There's still a place for you, if you can just be normal. It really isn't that hard. Stop saying dumb ignorant shit, stop passing the blame for your saying ignorant shit and stop defending other people who say ignorant shit."

Mel stops pacing but is still visibly shaking. "Not sane? Used to have a career? Did you see 'Signs'? I killed those alien bitches with water! Did you see 'The Passion'? Do you have any idea how much money I made? I am the Christians' God."

I shake my head, "Mel, the Christian's God is . fuck it, where's the final cut of 'Apocalypto'? We need it now."

Mel snaps his fingers again. A different native hurries over and hands Mel Gibson a canister.