Apocalypto (2006) R 139min
September 24th, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 10,007 Views
Apocalypto, 3-Oscar-nominated drama is written and directed by Mel Gibson and produced by his company, ICON Productions and distributed by Touchstone Pictures.
The plot: Before conquistadors arrived in America, the Mayan culture was already in decline. The priests convinced people that the solution to their problem is in building more temples and performing more human sacrifice. A youth named Jaguar Paw is captured together with other tribesmen by Mayans harvesting them for human sacrifice. He left his pregnant partner with his first child hidden in the cave. Jaguar Paw needs to escape and fight his way through to protect his family.
The good: Fresh from The Passion of The Christ, Mel Gibson makes another epic, now about the decline of Mayan culture. Great well-choreographed action scenes – both fights and hunt sequences. This movie is all about being authentic: the movie is in Mayan with English subtitles, all actors are natives, they all have bad teeth (there were no dentists back then), they use only wooden and rock tools. Beautiful cinematography too. The story is quite gripping with a lot of suspense, and seems plausible. The human sacrifice and gore seem violent and unnecessary, but in those days they were a necessity – people believed that gods need blood and other donations in order to grant people good weather, water and other resources necessary for their survival. Thankfully the most gruesome violence happens off camera – there are only hints of what’s happening. A lot of beautiful shots, particularly in the jungle: a lot of wild life is there, but the shots of forest and the waterfall are also awesome. Gibson masterfully portrayed the culture and people, and he makes you buy into the story from the moment you see the first characters on the screen. The irony in the movie is that even though the character outruns his enemies, the final scene really shows that there were so many things a small person cannot control and that the destiny is inescapable. It also shows how “civilized” Mayans with developed social hierarchy (priests, workers, warriors, reach, poor, youth) enslave or harvest the “uncivilized” forest people for the “better good”. Fantastic costumes, especially ones of the king and queen – the costumes tell more story about the characters then acting does. Very vivid view of the extinct civilization. And it’s a real drama, unlike that idiotic cliche called 10,000 B.C. It’s not yet known why Mayan civilization collapsed so suddenly, and Gibson points out a few possible causes. Also interesting that Mayans had no fear of death or pain – they accepted it as part of the daily life. In that context violence in the movie is not seen excessive or too exaggerated or gory.
The bad: the natives speak extremely slowly. The scene with the little prophet girl predicting death of Mayans was not from this movie – it was freaky like it was taken from Sixth Sense. The music and a great number of slow-motion sequences were annoying.
The summary: Compelling story of survival, beautifully shot and acted. The first half of the movie is the setup and drama, the second part of the movie is chase.
DVD Bonus Features:
- Becoming Mayan: Creating Apocalypto (documentary about making the film)
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentary
The cast: Jaguar Paw - Rudy Youngblood | Zero Wolf – Raoul Trujillo | Middle Eye – Gerardo Taracena | Snake Ink – Rodolfo Palacios | Seven – Dalia Hernández | Blunted – Jonathan Brewer | Flint Sky - Morris Birdyellowhead | Turtles Run - Carlos Emilio Báez | Curl Nose – Amilcar Ramírez | Smoke Frog – Israel Contreras | Cocoa Leaf – Israel Ríos | Story Teller – Espiridion Acosta Cache | Sky Flower – Iazua Larios
The crew: Director – Mel Gibson | Screenplay – Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia | Producers – Mel Gibson, Vicki Christianson, Bruce Davey, Ned Dowd, Sergio Miranda, Farhad Safinia | Original Music – James Horner | Cinematography – Dean Semler
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