A Student of History

August 9, 2006

Mel Gibson & History

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 4:04 am

In an article of today, the American Spectator has published “The Real Case Against Mel Gibson,” by Hal Colebatch.  It is a lengthy piece about Mel getting history wrong–not regarding his recent drunken comments about Jews and their role (according to Mel) in historical events, but about how Mel gets history so wrong in all of his films dealing with history. These include Gallipoli, Braveheart and the Patriot. 

For a taste of the criticism (in this case, regarding The Patriot):

Gibson’s next piece of Anti-English propaganda masquerading as historical fact was The Patriot, made in 2000 and set in the American Revolution. Again, historians savaged its inaccuracies, particularly its exaggeration or invention of British atrocities. These included a scene in which the British burn a town’s inhabitants alive in a church, actually probably inspired by a Nazi atrocity in World War II. In fact, history is not merely falsified but inverted: American-owned slaves are shown being freed to serve in the Revolutionary Army and it is implied the American forces intended to free all slaves, when in fact it was the British who first offered slaves who joined them freedom with the Dunmore Proclamation.

The author sums up his article by writing:

Gibson’s drunken ravings about Jews were truly disgusting. But it is also true that they are not very important in themselves and it is wrong to scapegoat him for them. If we were all to be held to account for words of drunken stupidity few would escape whipping, I think. He has confessed to a long-standing problem with alcohol and one should wish him well in overcoming it.

The more serious matter is that he has taken part in a series of probably highly influential films that tend to portray falsehood as fact, and which, at a time when it seems “Anglosphere” cultural and political unity is of some importance, even setting aside the possible anti-Semitism of The Passion of the Christ, seem aimed at setting Australians against British, Scots against English and Americans against British.

1 Comment »

  1. I recall arriving at boarding school in Australia as a newly immigrant Irish kid who had lived in London and had a faintly English accent. Gallipoli was shown to the boarding house and I was very nearly lynched. Some fancy verbal footwork was required highlighting my Irish roots to a seriously worked up group of Aussie kids.

    The film portrays the campaign entirely as a massacre of Australians, almost deliberately so, by an uncaring English command in order to provide cover for the landing of more valued English troops. In fact twice as many British troops died in the campaign and many British troops died trying to support the very attack which flounders in the film. Further the orders to attack long after any hopes of success had dwindled were made by an Australian commander rather than the very plummy sounding English commander of the film.

    Ironic really. Turning an anti war film into an aggressive and self serving nationalistic diatribe does very little to overcome the senseless nationalism which has been the root cause of so many wars.

    Comment by tom — February 15, 2007 @ 5:20 am | Reply

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