Monday, December 18, 2006

Apocalypto

by Jackrabbit Slim

Coming after one of the most controversial films in history, Mel Gibson has followed up with a film that is cozily familiar, at least in structure. The only dissent I've read is by someone who is angry that actual Mayans weren't used in the cast of the film, which concerns Mayans in the sixteenth century (I suppose only Danes can play Hamlet, too). The world that Gibson takes us into is certainly unique, going so far as to use the Mayan language, but the plot of the film is straight out of Hollywood B pictures of the forties.

The story concerns a young man named Jaguar Paw. He lives in a village that are hunter-gatherers. One morning his village is raided by an opposing force, which captures several of the men and leads them on a trek to their land. These Mayans are temple builders, a somewhat more developed society, except they still have the nasty habit of commiting ritual sacrifice, which includes ripping still beating hearts out of chests and decapitation. Oh well, all societies aren't perfect. Jaguar Paw attempts to escape, and leads his captors on a merry chase back to his jungle. It is this portion of the film that reminded me, no joke, of Home Alone.

I can't speak to the authenticity of Mayan life in this period. As a coddled person of the 21st century there are many moments when I looked at the many piercings the tribespeople have and said to myself, "That must have hurt," or after a nasty wound, "That's going to get infected." The violence is certainly vivid, but is usually so over the top in a Grand Guignol manner that it's almost comic.

This film is dressed up like it is an important picture, it is simply a fun time at the matinee, and really makes no particularly insightful statements about the nature of man.

3 Comments:

Blogger Nick said...

It is this portion of the film that reminded me, no joke, of Home Alone.

Lol. Now I just have to see this on a big screen.

This and Blood Diamond sound like guilty pleasures disguised as 'serious' cinema.

12/19/2006 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Holy crap--just catching up on some news from while I was away--this movie was Number One its opening weekend? In Mayan?

12/19/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Finally got around to seeing it myself tonight, and I think your review is pretty good. I totally see what you mean about Home Alone.

I was disappointed, though, with the goofy melodrama at the end. I know that sounds weird, because the whole thing was fairly contrived, but at least it was contrived in a way that had some integrity. But then the last 15 minutes or so, the whole thing came crashing down.

12/22/2006 11:52:00 PM  

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