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Screening TortureMedia Representations of State Terror and Political Domination$
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Fabiola Fernandez Salek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153591

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153591.001.0001

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Mel Gibson’s Tortured Heroes

Mel Gibson’s Tortured Heroes

From the Symbolic Function of Blood to Spectacles of Pain

Chapter:
(p.35) 2 Mel Gibson’s Tortured Heroes
Source:
Screening Torture
Author(s):

Lee Quinby

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231153591.003.0003

This chapter focuses on the presence of torture in many of Mel Gibson’s films, including The Passion of the Christ, Braveheart, and Apocalypto. It argues that while Gibson heroes—with the exception of Jesus in The Passion—are ferocious toward their enemies, they do not condone torture per se. Indeed, they are cast as valiant victims of it. In the Gibson schema, revenge is what good guys justifiably inflict on their enemies. Torture is what the bad guys do. The chapter suggests that Gibson’s films actually “condemn the use of torture.” The male characters in these films are victims of torture, a torture that often ends in sacrifice, and the suffering that they endure grants them a purified and patriarchal masculinity that invites honor.

Keywords:   torture, Mel Gibson, film, The Passion of the Christ, Braveheart, Apocalypto, revenge, victims, suffering, masculinity

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