Apocolypto

At my best guess, I’d say it’s been well over a year since I’ve stayed up past midnight. I don’t really do late nights, and prefer to get up when the sun tells me to. So right now, due to the early mornings, 9:30’s an ideal bedtime for me, with 10:30 usually being my absolute limit.

But last night we started watching Apocolypto, (warning – major plot spoiler in link) a Mel Gibson movie, and I had to stay up to see it. I was positively drawn into this world. Say what you will about Mel Gibson, he does know how to make a good film!

Apocolypto is about some MesoAmerican tribesmen taken as captives for sacrifice by the Maya, and the eventual escape of Jaguar Paw and flight for his life.

There were a few things I loved about this movie. First, it wasn’t your typical Hollywood movie. It was spoken in a Mayan dialect and completely subtitled. The actors were unknown. The makeup was brilliant. The characters were interesting and there was plenty of symbolism. I found my heart pumping constantly and was amazed at the events and athleticism of the actors. Mel Gibson and the screenwriter Farhad Safina wanted to create a action movie without CGI:

We wanted to update the chase genre by, in fact, not updating it with technology or machinery but stripping it down to its most intense form, which is a man running for his life, and at the same time getting back to something that matters to him.

I loved the challenge of remembering the omen and seeing the men led to their end by the man with the jaguar.

You fear me? So you should. All you who are vile. Would you like to know how you will die? The sacred time is near. Beware the blackness of day. Beware the man who brings the jaguar. Behold him reborn from mud and earth. For the one he takes you to will cancel the sky, and scratch out the earth. Scratch you out. And end your world. He’s with us now. Day will be like night. And the man jaguar will lead you to your end.

The ‘controvesial ending’ didn’t seem so controversial to me. To me, Jaguar Paw did lead the men to the end of their world, but not because ‘they deserved it’, but because historically the moment of contact with the Europeans did spell the end of Mayan civilisation, and plenty of others for that matter.

I liked the paralells that could be drawn with our own society: the extreme differences between rich and poor, the stripping of natural resources, and the plague of disease that comes with too many people in too small of an area. It had all the familiar hallmarks of the fall of the Roman Empire, and to me was another reminder that we’ve trodden this path before and it seems likely it will all happen again, just against a different backdrop.

Seen any good movies lately? Have you seen Apocolypto? What did you think of the film?

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