The Man Without a Face (film)

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The Man Without a Face
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Theatrical release poster
Year Released: 1993
MPAA Rating (USA): PG-13
Director: Mel Gibson
Starring: Mel Gibson
Nick Stahl

Produced by 	Bruce Davey<br>Dalisa Cohen (co-producer)
Written by 	Screenplay:Malcolm MacRury
Novel:Isabelle Holland
Music by 	James Horner
Cinematography 	Donald McAlpine
Edited by 	Tony Gibbs
Production company:Icon Productions
Distributed by 	Warner Bros.
Release dates: August 25, 1993
Running time: 114 minutes
Country 	United States
Language 	English
Budget 	$25 million
Box office 	$24,760,338 (US)[1]

The Man Without a Face is a 1993 American drama film starring and directed by Mel Gibson, in his first film as a director and actor. The film is based on Isabelle Holland's 1972 novel of the same name. Gibson's directorial debut received respectful reviews from most critics.


The film takes place in the late 1960s. For the past seven years, Justin McLeod (Gibson) has been living an isolated existence as a reclusive painter following a car accident which left him disfigured on the right side of his face and chest by burns sustained in a post-crash fire.

Young Chuck Nordstadt (Nick Stahl) endures a dysfunctional relationship with his sister and their widowed mother. One day, Chuck meets McLeod on a ferry; Chuck is intrigued by, and slightly scared, of him. Chuck needs a tutor to help him pass a military academy's entrance exam; McLeod is the only one who openly believes Chuck can and will succeed. Eventually, Chuck persuades McLeod to become his teacher; although he is initially baffled by McLeod's unorthodox methods, the two develop a close friendship.

Chuck keeps his daily meetings with McLeod a secret, to avoid being scorned for associating with a disfigured man whose past is shrouded in mystery. No one knows much about McLeod, and few people have ever made an effort to know him; this has made McLeod the object of gossip, speculation, and suspicion.

Ultimately, Widow Nordstadt learns that her son has been visiting McLeod. She and the rest of the town convince themselves that McLeod is molesting Chuck, despite Chuck's adamant denials. Chuck researches McLeod's car accident, which involved the death of another boy, hence McLeod's fear of another attachment. Chuck is forcibly taken to a psychiatrist, who Chuck (accurately) suspects is also biased against McLeod.

Chuck inevitably confronts McLeod to learn the truth of his disfigurement, and to discover the identity of that youth who was killed in the same car crash. As it turns out, the other boy was a student of McLeod's. Consequently, McLeod was (unjustly) branded a pedophile, was exiled from his hometown, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and served three years in prison. Once his relationship with Chuck is openly known, McLeod is once again run out of town, and ordered by the authorities to have no contact with Chuck.

On his way out of town, McLeod leaves Chuck a note; it wishes him the best of luck in his academic goals, and reminds him to be tolerant with people who are different. In the film's finale, Chuck is shown graduating from the military academy as his sister and their mom look on proudly. Chuck sees a familiar figure in the background, and recognizes it as his "faceless" tutor.

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.

See also

The Man Without a Face (book) (with a download link of the book)

External links