Too conscious an awareness of all that the "scapegoat" connotes in modern usage eliminates the essential point that the persecutors believe in the guilt of their victim; they are imprisoned in the illusion of persecution that is no simple idea but a full system.
- Rene Girard, The Scapegoat
Mel Gibson is back in the spotlight again - not that he ever left.
News broke earlier this month that Gibson will be producing (and possibly directing) a film about Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee written by Joe Eszterhas (screenwriter of Basic Instinct and Showgirls and Catholic convert). Some Jewish leaders are understandably upset about this.
There's plenty negative to say about Mel Gibson and his outlandish anti-Semitic, racist, and sexist remarks in recent years - but, as one Jewish writer notes, "you can love the art...and believe that the creator might be in need of psychiatric help or even that he might just be a bad guy."
In that spirit, I'll focus this article not on Gibson's merits as a man, but as a director. In particular, I want to show that there is a universal and noble theme uniting his four films (Apocalypto, The Passion of the Christ, Braveheart, and The Man Without a Face): the concept of the scapegoat.