Mel Gibson has answered criticism of his latest film, the Mayan language epic Apocalypto.

Although winning widespread appeal and shooting straight to the top of the US box office, the film has come in for criticism for misrepresenting Mayan Indians as bloodthirsty savages.

Gibson, who produced and co-wrote the movie, told reporters at a screening of the film in Mexico City: "Those who criticise the movie should do their homework. I did."

Set in the Yucatan peninsula (modern-day Mexico) in the 16th century, the events of Apocalypto are played out against the backdrop of the last days of the Mayan civilisation.

It makes for some gruesome viewing, with scenes of human sacrifices, women being sold into slavery and decapitations.

Gibson has spent most of the past six months defending himself; in July last year he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and launched a tirade at police officers in which he made a number of anti-Semitic comments.

Since then he has apologised profusely to the Jewish community, describing his comments on a US TV programme as "the stupid ramblings of a drunkard".

16/01/2007 15:44:03