Film Review: Mel Gibson in ‘The Professor and the Madman’

  • Variety
Back in 1998 when Simon Winchester’s book “The Professor and the Madman” was published, a film version was already imagined by quite a few reviewers, spurred on not only by the subject’s eminently dramatic trajectory but also by Mel Gibson’s much publicized interest. It seemed implausible: Gibson wasn’t the obvious choice for a Victorian-era biopic about James Murray, the man commissioned to bring the Oxford English Dictionary (Oed) to life, but his involvement made it more likely that a dictionary compiler’s story could be packaged as something marketable to a general public. The star decided not to direct, novice filmmaker Farhad Safinia was brought in, and shooting wrapped in 2016. That’s when grumblings began to be heard publicly.

Officially, Safinia and Gibson wanted to add a few weeks of shooting at Oxford University to boost the authenticity. Voltage Picture’s CEO Nicolas Chartier balked, complaining they
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