The Man Without a Face is a 1993 drama film starring and directed by Mel Gibson. The film is based on Isabelle Holland’s 1972 novel of the same name. Gibson’s directorial debut received respectful reviews from most critics.
Contents [hide] 1 Plot
4 Treatment of sexuality
5 Urban legend
7 External links
The film takes place in the turbulent era of the late 1960s. For the past seven years, Justin McLeod (Gibson) has been living the life of a recluse painter. McLeod, a former teacher, has lived this way ever since a car accident left him disfigured and killed one of his students. However, a young boy named Chuck needs a tutor to help him pass a military academy’s entrance exam. He eventually is able to persuade McLeod to become his teacher, and the two develop a friendship.
Chuck keeps his daily meetings with McLeod a secret to avoid the scorn of being associated with the disfigured man with a past shrouded in mystery. When his mother learns that Chuck has been visiting the man, she and the rest of the town are convinced that McLeod must have been molesting the child, despite Chuck’s repeated denials. Chuck confronts McLeod, and learns the full story of his disfigurement: McLeod, a former teacher, was in a car accident with a student who was in love with him. He was branded a pedophile and exiled from his hometown. Once his relationship with Chuck is discovered, McLeod is once again railed out of town and ordered by the authorities not to have any sort of contact with Chuck.
On his way out of town, McLeod leaves Chuck a note wishing him the best of luck in his academic goals and a reminder to tolerate people who are different. In the film’s finale, Chuck is shown graduating with honors from the military academy and sees a mysterious figure in the background, recognizing it as his tutor, the man without a face.Cast
Mel Gibson as Justin McLeod
Nick Stahl as Charles E. ‘Chuck’ Norstadt
Margaret Whitton as Catherine Palin
Fay Masterson as Gloria Norstadt
Gaby Hoffmann as Megan Norstadt
Geoffrey Lewis as Chief Wayne Stark
Richard Masur as Prof. Carl Hartley
Michael DeLuise as Douglas Hall, Gloria’s Boyfriend
Ethan Phillips as Todd Lansing
Jean De Baer as Mrs. Lansing
Jack De Mave as Mr. Cooper
Viva as Mrs. Cooper
Justin Kanew as Rob Lansing
The Man Without a Face was filmed in Maine and marked the film debut of Nick Stahl. Mel Gibson initially had planned only to direct the film, and he asked three other actors to play the role of Justin McLeod. However, due to difficulty securing funding, Gibson decided to star in the film. Treatment of sexuality
The film’s treatment of sexuality between Justin McLeod and Chuck Norstadt differs from the book by Isabelle Holland. In the original novel, McLeod behaves in a way that could be interpreted as child grooming, taking Chuck swimming and being affectionate to him. Chuck, meanwhile, seems to be attracted to McLeod as more than just as a father figure. There is one scene where it is strongly implied that McLeod sexually abuses Chuck in his bedroom. In the film, McLeod demonstrates no sexual interest in the boy at all, even though Chuck appears downstairs in his underwear when the police officer calls. Critics have noted that the book’s criticism of homophobia had been obscured in the film version.
Gibson has expressed dislike for the book because of its implied sexual contact between McLeod and Chuck: “I read the script first and that’s what I liked. The book is just – I’m sorry, but the guy did it. And you know, like, why? I just wanted to say something a lot more positive.” Urban legend
Around the time of the releases of Gibson’s films The Patriot and Passion of the Christ, an internet rumour falsely attributed to radio commentator Paul Harvey claimed this film was based on an actual incident that happened to Gibson as a young man. It proved to be false.