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Certificate - 18
Director - Mel Gibson
Run Time - 19 minutes
Genre - Action/Adventure
Country - USA (2006)
There's no doubt Mel Gibson is one of the iconic movie stars of our time, the perfect screen idol with those piercing blue eyes, devilish smile and amiable Aussie twang. What else would you do but acting if you look like that at 18! You don't see many people like him do normal jobs. But those looks started to go quickly after his 40th birthday and the character roles just didn't suit him, picking exactly the right moment to step to the other side of the camera. He did not want to be another Michael Caine doing those rather sad cameo roles as the avuncular shoulder to cry on. He proved he could direct with his well deserved Oscar for the brilliant Braveheart, and has again delivered with Apocalypto, although The Academy too scared to even mention his name with a nomination by the time of the films release, 2006 the peak of Mel Gibson's personal problems, this garnered with some peripheral technical Oscars instead to avoid him coming on stage to accept the golden statue one presumes. You can't go around wishing terrible things on the Jews in Hollywood, Mel!
Rudy Youngblood ... Jaguar Paw
Dalia Hernández ... Seven
Jonathan Brewer ... Blunted
Morris Birdyellowhead ... Flint Sky
Carlos Emilio Báez ... Turtles Run
Amilcar Ramírez ... Curl Nose
Israel Contreras ... Smoke Frog
Israel Ríos ... Cocoa Leaf
Raoul Trujillo ... Zero Wolf
Gerardo Taracena ... Middle Eye
A 16th century Mayan village is raided by a marauding tribe, the weak brutally slain where they stand and the young and healthier taken prisoner, only a handful of kids left in the burning village to fend for themselves. The Mayan kingdom is facing decline and the rulers have decreed that the key to prosperity is to build yet more temples and offer human sacrifices so loyal tribes sent out to find the slaves to build the temples and be sacrifices to lose their hearts and heads on top of them.
The hero of the film is the athletic 'Jaguar Paw' (Rudy Youngblood), who has just enough time to lower his pregnant wife Seven (Dalia Hernández) and son Turtle Dove (Carlos Emilio Báez) into a cave for some sort of safety before he, too, is captured. The deputy of the raiders, Middle Eye (Gerardo Taracena), is a nasty piece of work and treats his prisoners sadistically, no mercy, even questioning elder leader Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) with his petulance.
As their trek drags on through the jungle some will fall, bad omens aplenty for the hunted and hunter, a young girl riddled with disease warning of impending doom to come on the trail. As the crowd grows the temples wall drawings paint their fete and only Jaguar Paw's will to get back to his wife and child stands between him and certain death. If he is a chosen son then something miraculous needs to happen soon for him and his tribe to see another sunrise as they ascend the pyramid above the God-fearing baying crowds to the sacred sacrificial stone.
Fear not! With its authentic Mayan dialogue, unknown cast and sweeping dramatic locations and soundtrack, this is thankfully not that type of arty movie it seems, very much The Passion of the Christ meets Braveheart with a lot of Predator thrown in, a traditional and non pretentious action/adventure movie at heart. I think it's fair to say that the cast were certainly not the selling point and so the film rose or fell on Gibson's direction and input. Admittedly it is very similar in style to Braveheart in that the hero's destiny is forced upon him and his journey back to his loved one the drama. But Mel nailed that so well the first time then why not try again by replacing the savage Scott's with the even more savage Mayans. Be warned, this is a gory and violent film and not for the fainthearted.
With director Gibson weaving in a loose mystical fable to lighten it up further to claw back the mainstream multiplex crowd, the storyline is suitably tightened and frantic, producing some exciting action sequences that work well around the suggested supernatural element, if a little Hollywood at times, these Mayan warrior chaps extremely spear and arrow proof, fatal hemorrhaging and internal injuries easily fixed up with bark, leaves and a couple of ants! That adherence to the movie jungle code produces one or two unexpected and humorous moments, none more so than when Jaguar Paw taunts his pursuers with his chants from beneath the mighty waterfall: "I am Jaguar Paw, son of Flint Sky. My Father hunted this forest before me. I am a hunter. This is my forest. And my sons will hunt it with their sons after I am gone!!!! He then proceeds to fall flat on his face in quicksand on that very land.
As I said, as with Gibson's later movies the blood and guts gush here, surprisingly visceral at times. But that's what people were like back then when religion ruled the way and science was just but an idea. If the crops were failing due to global warming then 400 heads had to be chopped off until it stopped. It's not gratuitous gore as it signposts the movies mythical narrative and tries to emphasizes how mindless the sacrifices were back then, the Mayans kings believed to have decapitated over 20,000 in the 16th century, presumably to make sure the sun came up the next day.
Some have critiqued Gibson's religious fervor in his films and the way he attacks other faiths to promote his own one of Catholicism as the most righteous one. But all he is really doing is emphasizing how fear and violence are at the heart of many religions at their conception, a great recruiting agent by their creators, that of man. The Jews were really not happy with the Passion of the Christ and the Mexicans less than impressed with the Mayan betrayal here, the suggestion the Mayans were this violent somewhat insulting echoed the Mexican parliament. History is somewhere in-between on that score but the current drug war that claims thousands of lives a year in Mexico would suggest a bloodlust in their genes.
The punters loved it, the $40 million budget turning an impressive $120 million gross around the world. Gibson can direct a feature film and bringing no pretentious here he draws a big audience, a man of the people. It really is an old fashioned action-drama with a refreshing lack of CGI dependency and some enjoyable old fashioned scenes that feel like they have been extracted from classics like Jason and the Argonauts and Ben Hur. Gibson really has the feel for that 1950s sprawling epic and unleashes that here with gusto, some hammy B-Movie horror thrown in to secure that 18 certificate. But the key to the appeal here is the way he builds the audience up to hate the oppressors and so we all fall in behind Jaguar Paw and his will to escape their clutches and get back to his loved ones, the audience soon part of that frantic pursuit through the jungle. Gibson makes you want to care about some loin cloth wearing savages talking in a very funny language, no mean feat.
The Times - "Any Gibson-haters hoping to see the heart ripped out of his success may well find themselves disappointed"
The Seattle Times -"Ignore Apocalypto's symbolic hubbub and instead view it for Gibson's perverse sense of entertainment. His passionate spectacle of human destruction and doom packs a terrific visceral punch".
The Sun - "has learned how to tell a tale, and to raise a pulse in the telling. You have to admire that basic gift, uncommon as it is in Hollywood these days, though equally you have to ask what obsessions goad it on"
The Cape Times - "I won't say Gibson is a rebel who thinks outside the box, as was witnessed by "Passion of the Christ," but the man can direct an excellent visually spectacular action thriller"
Imdb.com - 7.8/10 (102,768 votes)
Metacritic.com - 68% critic's approval (70% user reviews)
Rottentomatos.com - 64% critics approval (79% user reviews)
Radio Times Film Year Book - 4/5
Leonardo Maltin's Film Year Book - 4.5/5
Director: Mel Gibson
Genre: Action/ Adventure
Release date: December 8, 2006
Writers: Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia
Running time: 2hrs 12minutes
Producers: Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia, Bruce Davey, Ned Dowd
Rating: 18 (Contains strong bloody violence, and gore)
Distribution: Icon Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures
Soundtrack: James Horner
Screen: Widescreen 16:9 Anamorphic
Languages: Yucatan Dolby Digital (5.1) Dolby Digital (2.0) Stereo; DTS
Subtitles: English, English Hoh
Region: Region 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players.
Apocalypto is Director Mel Gibson's fourth directorial effort, following on from successes 'The Man without a Face' the epic 'Braveheart and the controversial 'Passion of the Christ'
Sincerity would require ultimately believable characters, on that basis Mel Gibson chose the whole cast from descendants of the Mayan tribe, and unknown actors from Mexico City, the Yucatan and North America. What's more remarkable is the fact the entire crew had very limited acting careers indeed many making their debuts, more amazing was the fact the majority of the cast knew no other language than 'Maya'
Ruby Youngblood (Jaguar Paw) is the Chief of a small tribe, fearless, peaceful, spiritual, lean athletic young man wearing nothing other than a small loin cloth, tattoos, chin plug and many other ear accessories, a likeable character almost vulnerable but respected. You can easily warm to him as the lead role, very believable and for a first movie role has to be applauded. Jonathan Brewer (Blunted) is the opposite strong as an Ox, but seemingly lacking a little upstairs, foolish and a little fool hardy. Morris Birdyellowhead plays Flint Sky, The wise man and father to Jaguar Paw, the beautiful Dalia Hernandez plays Seven, Jaguar Paw's wife, whom is with child, she holds only a small role, but is effective and honest in it. Menacing Zero Wolf played by Raoul Trujillo is imposing as the head hunter of the Holcan warriors, he his held in high esteem and commands his troops with a steely stare, his headgear of animal jaws looks quite gruesome, his sadistic and tormenting sidekick is played fabulously by Gerado Taracena, the man you really get to loathe for his personal hatred of Jaguar Paw, and his inhuman acts and lack of compassion. Every gesture is to antagonize his captives, one of the stars of the show.
The ancient Maya flourished in Central America for centuries, culminating in a mass abandonment of ceremonial centers around A.D 900. Despite the attention given to the collapse of the classic Maya, perhaps 6 million Maya live today in parts of Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.
WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR, A POINT IS ALL YOU CAN SCORE - WHEN THE END COMES, NOT EVERYONE IS READY TO GO
IT'S ALL IN THE EYES
Firstly, the film is spoken in Yucatec Maya, with English subtitles...
The opening scenes, give insight into the workings of Jaguar Paw's small Mayan tribe, a peaceful jovial start humanizing the characters sufficiently, it establishes the intimate, tranquil environment of an early 16th century tribe. The scenes are tempered slightly as another tribe pass through, as their leader expresses panic after his own lands have been ravaged by something but what?
Paradise lost? The following morning, we awake on camp as Jaguar Paw is startled by his dreams and wakes to a noise! What follows is a big upheaval for the clan, and changes are afoot, but for what reason? A seemingly unimposing quiet clan is in turmoil. The scenes are wild, and very graphic! A split in the camp is forced, some will stay, and some will go, but are they willing? And what will come from the long road of torment ahead.
We next follow the tribe on a long walk towards what? The road is most certainly rocky, and not at all pleasant, we vision dense forest land, gushing rivers, falling trees, failed crop lands and a seemingly witch like little girl who can foresee the future! Quite a poignant part of the films as this sick little girl's eyes alone says a thousand words as she prophesies, putting terrifying doubts into the minds of some. The hand bound crew march towards the sick and dying plaster covered Mayan city.
The following scenes are the centerpiece of Apocalypto it's very powerful, tantalizingly slow and chilling! We are introduced to a whole new kingdom; the scenery is amazing, as we greet the High priest at the summit of the pyramid. Tension at the top is paramount until a solar eclipse rests the beating hearts temporarily. The sun god Kukulkan has spoken to a joyous frenzied reaction from the local inhabitants.
Target practice with a difference, is this really the time to start playing games? Welcome to the Sports Arena! Jaguar Paw and Blunted enter the long run home, which will come out victorious, what will behold the defeated? Classic scenes, and possibly my favorite as I'm jumping out my chair willing them on, these scenes put a complete new unexpected twist to the film, and one I applaud.
What lies beyond the ball park? The free run home, the final scenes are dramatic, and tense, as we race through dense forestry filled with Jaguar's, and other local trappings. The finale features many dramatic twists and turns for the race of power, the stakes grow, death is imminent as the intensity increases, and stamina is put to the test. With so much at stake the distinction of a tribe, revenge, and loved ones in need of assistance it's powerful and climactic, but who or what will turn out on top?
DESIGN / COSTUMES
The Production team spent hours upon hours looking through images and memorabilia, to re-create history. The artistic department had full license to reinvent and mould the cast of how a Mayan tribe would have looked, specific tattoos, jewelry, traditional symbols and headgear were daily applied for sincerity, and believability. Weaponry was researched and created for authentication. Undoubtedly the performances were enhanced tenfold by the creativity, make up and artistry.
The stunning scenery is another plus as everything was recreated, pyramids were built, and there very own little Mayan empire was constructed; no computer generated images here, optimizing on visual stimulation. Historic lines are considered throughout, but generally the scenery and artwork is blended from different eras for aesthetic reasoning. The stunning dense jungle locations just add to the beauty of this film, such rough terrain and rainforest locations and amazingly filmed.
AWARDS & CRITICAL ACCLAIM
Apocalypto generally received positive reviews from the critics calling the film "an adrenaline-drenched chase movie" however it came with controversy and its doubters, it was also feared the film would lead to protests upon its release from the Mexican population. Mel Gibson was awarded the Trustee Award by the First American in the Arts organization and the Latino Business Association's Chairman's Visionary Award for his efforts. It surprisingly escaped notable mainstream nominations, however it was still deemed successful, gaining awards in Cinematography, and Sound. Furthermore Ruby Youngblood, Morris Birdyellowhead, Gerado Taracena and Dalia Hernandez all received awards for their own personal performances in their respective roles.
* Becoming Mayan: Creating Apocalypto
Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia explain how they created Apocalypto in four different sections.....
On Location - They explain how they examined the Mayan culture, customs, beliefs, way of life, their sophistication but brutal customs, so that the viewer could buy into something real and believable. They speak about the amount of searching that took place to find the right locations, from Guatemala, Costa Rica and finally Mexico. Explaining the problems they faced, before eventually finding the perfect place in Catemaco, Mexico where the ground was flat, but you could see for miles, but still dense enough in texture. They explain the amount of work that went into all the sets that were made from scratch.
Costumes/ Make Up - Explaining how they needed 700 extras at times, each having their own make up artist, stylists and wardrobe assistants. They explain why the costumes were important to define class, through the extensive range of piercings, scarification's, tattoos and stretched ear lobes. Indeed over 250 make up artists were used.
Weapons - It was important for historical accuracy, so all instruments and weapons had to be made from materials available to the Mayan tribe, so no metal could be used, just Glass Minerals, which would cut through anything and not shatter. Obsidian Swords were made, and also weaponry to stun and capture. The whole segment lasts 24 minutes and 9 seconds, and I thought was thoroughly enjoyable, and explains the extensive work that went into making this picture.
* Deleted Scene With Optional Commentary by Writer/Director/Producer Mel Gibson and Writer/Co-Producer Farhad Safinia
To be honest this was really pointless, there is one deleted scene that last for 35 seconds, and is quite pointless, which is no wonder it was edited from the film.
* Feature Audio Commentary By Writer/Director/ Producer Mel Gibson And Writer/Co-Producer Farhad Safinia
What it says on the tin really, watching the movie with commentary from the above personel.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Apocalypto is a remarkable artistic film of survival; it's packed by incident, driven with emotion, and tantalizingly chilling. It depicts the destruction of the Mayan civilization, its bloody, exotic and a chase like no other. Apparently the film is historical based, whether loosely or not I've no idea, Mayan Texts were used for the historical accuracies, but I'm not sure if that's storyline based or the other elements composing the film. After all it's apparently unknown to why the Mayan civilization collapsed so abruptly, so many possibilities from disease, drought, famine, warfare, who knows? Aside from is it does give you brief insight to how a tribe would have lived, and their motivations.
The story itself I thought was thoroughly engrossing, and the fact the dialogue was in Yucatec Maya was insignificant, and really made no different to my enjoyment of the film at all, in fact dialogue was not really needed, due to the fabulous acting, and the drama seen through the actors eyes alone, the subtitles were easy to follow and did not take away my enjoyment whatsoever.
The scenery is breathtaking, the costumes appealing and authentic looking. But the composition by James Horner added the extra bite to set the scene's, mostly subtle and low key, but packing a timely punch. A moody composite, threatening and growling with the use of synthesizers and woodwind instruments, to alarming fashion, and the ability to use the speed of sound to orchestra the pace of the movie.
I'm not sure what you could compare this film to, nothing I've seen anyway, but I think it would appeal to all; it covers many genre of film, action, adventure to lightly mythically base, a real chase adventure. I found it thoroughly entertaining throughout for many reasons, the acting was tight and thought provoking, the storyline ultimately believable, the scenes cut perfectly; it's imaginative with plenty of soul and character. Blood and graphic violence to keep the sadists entertained, it has an underlining friendship and a sense of belonging attached, and a spiritual aspect and how it has the ability to make you think and question real life and higher powers and their existence. Don't let the subtitles put you off this Is a masterpiece....
AN ARTISTIC MASTERPIECE, EXOTIC, WILD AND VIOLENT 9/10
Prices and Other Information .......
Amazon price: £4.48
Amazon Blu-ray £6.97
James Horner soundtrack £11.99
This 2006 film was mostly known to me as the one which Mel Gibson directed after his much criticised/acclaimed/controversial The Passion of the Christ. I knew this was set in Mexico and was based on the Mayan civilization and having visited the Yucatan peninsula and seen the great ruins of Chichen Itza for myself in the last few years I was intrigued to see what it was like.
Anyway, it popped up on terrestrial tv the other week and we sky plussed it to watch when we got chance. This weekend we finally sat down to watch it and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and pretty amazed at the level of detail which had gone into the making of it too.
This film is set during the declining period of the Mayan culture, just before the arrival of the Spanish explorers who so changed the shape and feel of this part of the world. In fact towards the end of the film we see them arriving which frames the time quite nicely.
The action centres on Jaguar Paw, a young male member of a tribe of rural Mayans who have their village beseiged by a much more violent and dominant clan. During the fight for his village he sees his father Flint Sky, who is the village elder, killed deliberately in front of him.
Amid the chaos he manages to hide his pregnant wife Seven and young sun, Turtles Run, down in a cave with a vine to get out, but this is severed by one of the marauding tribe who is suspiscious of why Jaguar Paw keeps glancing nervously at the cave once he is taken prisoner.
A whole bunch of the young males are taken prisoner (along with some females who can be sold as slaves) and are marched through the jungle back to the much more radical and city-like base of this bloodthirsty tribe. Jaguar Paw makes a particular enemy of the quite evil Middle Eye who seems intent on ensuring he will suffer as much as possible.
It transpires that they are wanted by the tribe to be human sacrifices to the gods and the film then follows Jaguar Paw's bid for freedom as he gets a chance to escape but is pursued relentlessly through the jungle in a race against the clock to get back to his deserted family trapped in the cave.
Mel Gibson deliberately cast all indiginous people in the roles, in the main they were actual Mayan's or of Mayan descent but some were also native American. Virtually all were unknowns because of this.
Rudy Youngblood - Jaguar Paw
Dalia Hernández - Seven
Jonathan Brewer - Blunted
Morris Birdyellowhead - Flint Sky
Carlos Emilio Báez - Turtles Run
Amílcar Ramírez - Curl Nose
Israel Contreras - Smoke Frog
Israel Ríos - Cocoa Leaf
María Isabel Díaz - Mother-in-Law
Iazúa Laríos - Sky Flower
Raoul Trujillo - Zero Wolf
Gerardo Taracena - Middle Eye
Rodolfo Palacios - Snake Ink
Ariel Galván - Hanging Moss
Bernardo Ruiz - Drunkards Four
Ricardo Díaz Mendoza - Cut Rock
Richard Can - Ten Peccary
Its absolutely fascinating to see this portrayal of a civilization which we know so little about, in what was effectively the end of their glory days. The attention to detail means that it feels like a pretty accurate portrayal of how things were and certainly the amount of research put in by Gibson is clear to see.
The whole film is in Mayan dialogue which was not spoken by many of the cast (despite many being of Mayan descent) so effectively the whole film is in a dead language. This meant the cast having to learn the lines and pronunciation from scratch but you would really not know this from watching it. The action flows smoothly, the subtitles are easy to follow and weirdly you do find yourself hearing particular words repeated and beginning to recognize them which adds to the authenticity of what you are watching.
I felt incredibly engaged with this film but then the Mayans have always fascinated me and since visiting this area and seeing the magnificent ruins with my own eyes I had always wondered quite what the cities looked like when they were at the height of their significance and populated. This film felt like it gave me a much clearer idea of this.
Filmed in the Mexican state of Veracruz the authenticity of the jungle is real, even if the buildings were recreated - painstakingly and to accurate sizes. I would not have known the difference between what was real and what was not if I had not done some online research to find out - it all looked very real to me.
There is one particular scene with a waterfall that is quite spectacular, I literally held my breath and was on the edge of my seat. The action element of this film is very full on and from the word go it is quick paced and non-stop, the use of tension is quite remarkable and cleverly done. Despite this film being 140 minutes long it whizzes by.
Rudy Youngblood as Jaguar Paw and Gerado Teracena as Middle Eye have a magnificant chemistry between them as enemies from early on and this helps to carry and exacerbate the whole impending feeling of terror which envelopes the whole film.
It is SO violent that I had to look away a number of times. Whilst I am aware that this is a portrayal of what really happened, it does not make it any easier to watch somebody be bludgeoned or sliced open for the tenth time.
There is also a whole lot of disembowelling and throat slitting which goes on and the blood lust is really quite continuous throughout the entire film. I am a little queasy about such things and had to watch with a cushion handy for the more graphic bits.
Other than this though I cannot think of a reason not to watch, which surprised me as I do think Gibson can be a little bit over the top and full of himself as a director (see The Passion of the Christ).
Maybe it is because I had a natural curiosity about this race anyway and I love the landscape of Yucatan Mexico, but I found this film startlingly vivid and enjoyable - even given the sheer volume of blood letting which we see. I would recommend it to anyone who has not seen it for whatever reason - especially if you have or will be visiting this area of the world.
It can be picked up very cheaply now on Amazon etc, from around £4, I will most probably be adding it to my collection - and I never thought I would say that about a Mel Gibson directed film.
This is easily one of the best films ive seen in a very long time. It had
been recommended to me by a friend, and to be perfectly honest it didn't
appeal to me because the only thing I knew about it was that it had
subtitles. A film with subtitles just seems far too much hard work for me.
But, I gave it a go.... And it was totally worth it! What an amazing film!
Set in Mayan civilization - one settled tribe is attacked by another who
are brutally seeking humans for slaves and sacrifice and seeking to
overtake their land. They butcher the woman and kidnap the men.
The main character, Jaguar, manages to smuggle his heavily pregnant wife out of view and hide her and their son in a well. Shortly after, he is
captured - leaving his wife stranded and himself powerless to help. He is
dragged away, seemingly to his doom, and the rest of the film follows his
capture and attempts to escape and his wifes isolation.
This is an amazing film that had me gripped from the beginning - but be
warned, the opening scenes where the tribe is initially being attacked are
very disturbing. My wife was in floods of tears but the scene is necessary
to make you care that Jaguar survives and make you realise what the
consequence of his failure to escape it.
I was literally sat on the edge of my seat for the whole film - and I bet
you will be too!
You can pick this up on amazon for about £5 or you can rent it on lovefilm.
I really recommend that you do!
Apocalypto is a film directed by Mel Gibson depicting the Mayan civilisation of central America in the early 17th century, it depicts the Mayans in a time before the Spanish first arrived on the continent.
The film is filmed in Yucatec Mayan with subtitles.
Set in the latter days of the Mayan civislisation which is beset by problems from hostile neighbours and believing that the Gods have forsaken them by giving them hostile harvests and a lack of rain. The Mayans have started to self-destruct by picking on each other in a vain attempt to appeal to their gods for help, the Mayans lived in central America and have a violent society with human sacrifice and human bondage.
The film starts innocently with a tapir hunt, Jaguar Paw and his father Flint Sky along with a few villagers encounter a desperate band of Mayans fleeing a violent band of warriors. They give a warning over coming trouble but the group ignore them, the next morning a group of men invade the village and burn their huts before taking Jaguar Paw, Flint and others into bondage by tieing themselves to a long bamboo cane. They also trap Jaguars pregnant wife in a well and leave her to die, they also kill Flint and haul the men off towards the Mayan capital.
The film then truly begins depicting the brutality of the men's keepers and their views on the captive's. They mercilessly whip and beat the men forcing them along, they are given no more water and bread than is absolutely necessary for life. They are tied together in three or four to the same piece of bamboo via shackles on their necks. The director brings us into the world of jungle, dirt and oppression feeding on our fears over the exploitation of one race by another. Here we see the last thrashes of a desperate society trying to get over the climate changes present in their world. This is a world which believes its gods have forgotten them and in attempts to awaken them use more and more brutal methods. The captives reach the Mayab city, any women are taken away to be sold as slaves and the men are daubed with blue paint before being taken to the top of the large Mayan temple.
It's at this point that the film really goes into area's which few others fear to tread, after Mel Gibsons depiction of the crucifiction he again visits scenes of human destruction. This is no less brutal than the scenes in The Passion, only this time the men are subjected to having their hearts cut out and beheaded. Perhaps the worst of it is that the men witness the death of their friends knowing that they are going to be the next, this part of the film is directed superbly with close ups of the waiting men who show there fear through minimal face movements and a slow decline in the chatter between the group.
Jaguar Paws is taken for sacrifice but an eclipse saves him and the rest of the villagers, they are then taken to the testing grounds where they are simply informed that if they reach the end of the grounds they will be freed. Of course the soldiers then use them for target practice fro their arrows, javelins and sling shots. Jaguar Paws once again escapes and the soldiers chase after him but he escapes through encountering his totem, a jet black jaguar.
The film moves the viewer in that it shows how far societies will go when they are feeling threatened, here told through the eyes of Jaguar Paws we see the last days of a once magnificent society. The film doesn't flinch or give the viewer an easy time but simply shows the society they lived in, is it true to live probably not but as a film it hits all the right points.
The film also depicts the jungle brilliantly, here is a vibrancy and a sense of harshness which we don't get in James Cameron's Avatar, the lack of CGI in fact is in someway refreshing meaning that the sets and the actors themselves have to show the true meaning of the story.
Apocalypto was a film that promised a lot, yet in my mind drastically failed to deliver.
The film charts the downfall of the Mayan civilisation through on location filming in Mexico and a cast of native actors capable of speaking the Yucatec Maya language (still spoken in some parts of Mexico). The film certainly looks and sounds authentic enough.
What he didn't do though was provide much of a coherent plot. Instead we get over 2 hours of chases, hunts and social upheaval. This I didn't have a problem with in itself but it moves along at a very slow pace and the director doesn't seem to have made up his mind what he thought killed out the Mayans by the end of the film himself.
Expanding further on my criticisms, I will briefly reveal a few bits of plot.
The film starts off with them hunting what looks like wild boar. They trap it and eat it, but for some reason there are a load of crude sexual jokes about the animal's genitals thrown in along with a sub plot about an impotent tribesman who the rest of the clan make fun of. I didn't find this funny and it didn't really seem to serve any proper purpose.
Moving on the clan is eventually run over by invading Mayans who take them to their city where they are sacrificed and hunted for sport. Only one escapes - the tribe's leader called Jaguar Paw- but not before he gets an arrow through his chest (surprisingly he manages to keep quite a pace as well)
The chase lasts for about 45 mins of the film - far too long and the Black Panther sub plot just made the film look ridiculous and embarrassing. Somehow he manages to outwit most of his aggressors and the film ends with them arriving at the coast and looking out at the Spanish fleet.
END OF PLOT DETAILS.
The fact that one man could survive being pierced by an arrow and have the ability to get up and run away at speed I found undermined the films credibility, but my biggest problem was the myriad of sub-plots (the panther, his wife) and the fact that as I mentioned earlier the director doesn't have much of an opinion on what caused the downfall. Was it the arrival of the Spanish? Was it all the social unrest we saw? Or was it the drought?
The drought got I think one brief mention in the whole film and yet this is the most popular theory amongst historians as to the collapse of the civilisation.
Parts of the film were good - the costumes, the neighbouring clan who came to pass through and there was a little story of man's greed and unhappiness after he took gifts from all the animals of the forest.
If the director had stuck to one main plot and provided one solid-ish reason as to the civilisation decline the film would have been much better. Instead what we get is an unsatisfying film where the director doesn't seem to know what he thinks about the topic - prompting me to wonder why he made the film at all.
The film's rated an 18, as there's quite a lot of violence - this is my ind was justifiable as the Mayans, although advanced were a brutal and violent civilisation. Having said that I'm not sure why we needed to see so many 'sacrifices'. One or two and I would have gotten the picture. Except for towards the end though it doesn't dwell and the killings/ blood/ torture as Mel Gibson's previous film "The Passion" did.
* Becoming Mayan: Creating Apocalypto
* Deleted Scene With Optional Commentary
* By Writer/Director/Producer Mel Gibson
* And Writer/Co-Producer Farhad Safinia
* Feature Audio Commentary By Writer/Director/ Producer Mel Gibson And Writer/Co-Producer Farhad Safinia
Mel Gibson's 2006 film Apocalypto had a lot to live up to following his earlier directorial success. Most notably perhaps was the controversial telling of the crucifixion in 2004's violent Passion of the Christ. That was a film I enjoyed immensely and the use of Aramaic, Latin and Hebrew language brought am authentic feel to the intensity of the powerful performances.
Similarly, Apocalytpo continues his trend for visceral cinema and again is shot entirely in another language, this time being Mayan. The cast is made up of native South American tribes people and their descendants all of whom were not known actors. Many hundreds of extras were also used for the larger scenes.
The film follows the main character Jaguar Paw and his father Flint Sky as they hunt in the jungle with their fellow tribesmen. After a successful hunt and some male bonding they encounter a group of villagers from another area who are literally traumatized with fear. The group are merely seeking safe passage through their territory after their own village was violently ransacked by a gang of slave trafficking warriors.
Following this encounter Flint Sky sees something in his sons eyes and ask that he doesn't let fear enter his heart and corrupt him.
Waking in the morning following a nightmare the village is attacked by the warrior gang and much violence and destruction ensues with the majority being taken as slaves. Jaguar Paw hides his pregnant wife and son by lowering them into a large pit before returning to fight alongside his people. Failing to save himself he is taken prisoner and when his link to his father is revealed Flint Sky is mudered in front of him.
Taken away on a long and arduous journey to be sold as slaves, Jaguar Paw is constantly tormented by Middle Eye the man who murdered his father. Arriving at their destination the group are seperated and Jaguar Paw is sent with several other men to be painted blue and sent to the summit of a temple. Here they are sacrificed by having there hearts cut out and then their heads severed. The decapitated heads are then thrown down the steps to a baying crowd. When Jaguar Paw's turn comes he is given a reprieve by the occurence of a solar eclipse which has sated the gods thirst for blood.
Jaguar Paw and his tribesmen are given a chance at freedom by running across a large open area towards some crops. As they run spears are thrown and arrows fired at them but if they get to the end there is a guard to clean up the survivors. Jaguar Paw is hit by an arrow and then manages to kill the guard who is Cut Rock, son of the violent Zero Wolf who led the assault on Jaguar Paw's village.
What follows is a breathlessly frenetic chase through the jungle with some amazing scenes including one where Jaguar Paw jumps from a giant waterfall upon reaching a dead end. The chase continues as Jaguar Paw returns to save his wife and son. The pace never dulls until the conclusion when he realises it is time to stand and fight his enemy.
Rudy Youngblood - Jaguar Paw
Dalia Hernández - Seven
Jonathan Brewer - Blunted
Morris Birdyellowhead - Flint Sky
Carlos Emilio Báez - Turtles Run
Amílcar Ramírez - Curl Nose
Israel Contreras - Smoke Frog
Israel Ríos - Cocoa Leaf
María Isabel Díaz - Mother-in-Law
Iazúa Laríos - Sky Flower
Raoul Trujillo - Zero Wolf
Gerardo Taracena - Middle Eye
Rodolfo Palacios - Snake Ink
Ariel Galván - Hanging Moss
Bernardo Ruiz - Drunkards Four
Ricardo Díaz Mendoza - Cut Rock
Richard Can - Ten Peccary
Carlos Ramos - Monkey Jaw
Ammel Rodrigo Mendoza - Buzzard Hook
Marco Antonio Argueta - Speaking Wind
Aquetzali García - Oracle Girl
María Isidra Hoil - Oracle Girl
Abel Woolrich - Laughing man
This film begins at a nice steady pace and the characters are warmly portrayed, this not being impeded by the use of Mayan and subtitles. Incidentally I often prefer subtitles because it makes you follow the story more vigilantly. The first half of the film never really feels slow and you can feel the tension building before there is any real violence.
Speaking of which, violence is something this film was notable for though this is unfair. The action is certainly visceral and tribal but you would expect that from a story set in the 16th century. The 18 rating does state the presence of heavy violence and gore but I never felt that this was a means to promote the film. The feel of the violence is authentic but it serves to crank up the tension for the following chase scene which is impressive.
The film is beautifully shot and captures the dynamicism and urgency of the chase with some wonderful panning shots supplemented with startling audio. Clever insertion of first and third perspectives makes the chase chaotic and rightly so. For large expanses of the set area to be in dense jungle there is a surprising variety of colour and shade and this gives an almost supernatural air to the action. It is certainly very immersive and I felt captivated throughout the whole two hours of the films duration.
There is an underlying theme of corruption and violence through internal politics and social collapse. It is not explicitly drawn as a social demographic of literal Mayan culture and civilization and I don't prticularly think that the director intended this either. There are obvious parallels to modern society regarding population and financial greed but that would be to over complicate the film. To me I feel compelled to find my own interpretation of the film and enjoy it purely for what it is and not be drawn into some protracted cycle of analysis and counter-analysis.
Another epic piece of direction from Mel Gibson taking us on a colourful and intense journey. The story is not over complicated and it didn't need to be. It is fair to say there is a level of violence in this film but I don't think it falls outside of what we have come to accept in modern cinema and it is certainly not window dressing. The chase is the main part of the film and it is adrenaline soaked and damn good fun. Perhaps not a classic but a damn good film.
Say what you will about Mel Gibson, he knows how to make a visceral, visually engaging film, as he first proved with controversial Jesus pic The Passion of the Christ, and again with Apocalypto, this thrilling look at how the Maya civilisation operated, looking at one Mesoamerican tribesman who must rescue his family after all Hell breaks loose with a local tribe who wish to sacrifice him.
The film opens as protagonist Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), along with his father Flint Sky (Morris Birdyellowhead), find a bunch of tribesmen who are traumatised after their camp was savagely attacked by another tribe. Fearing the worst, Jaguar Paw takes his pregnant wife Seven (Dalia Hernández) and his young son Turtles Run and hides them in a cave, hoping that they will be safe there. However, he returns to the camp to help repel the attackers, and is taken prisoner himself, being taken to a temple where he will be made a human sacrifice.
Apocalypto was controversial not only from a historical perspective - it was hyped up due to its extremely graphic violence during one sacrifice scene in particular, and it's understandable that the grue may simply be too much for some, but for those that enjoy their old fashioned horror films, this is a rather unique treat; an intense rollercoaster of an action film set in the jungle. It does borrow a fair amount from Predator in that regard, as Jaguar Paw goes from hunted to hunter in the third reel, viciously hunting down the baddies with his cunning, but it's an effectice conceit thanks to Gibson's visually immaculate direction.
I haven't much to say about its history because I'm not a history student, but as a slice of action cinema, it's effective and very entertaining. Another winner from Gibson, regardless of what you think of him as a person.
There's a plethora of negatives attached to this film that may well put you off. It's directed by Mel Gibson, whose last film was a religious horror, and whose name has been in the press attached to lots of bad things. It's subtitled due to the use of a weird ancient Mayan dialect. It has a cast of complete unknowns. It has a relatively graphic use of violence. And it's about some ancient weird tribe-folk, so what the hell has that got to do with us joyful Westerners?
But forget who made it. Accept that ancient Mayans would not speak "American". And just watch it as one of those great films with a great hero who must face a difficult journey filled with adventure. Because that's all it is. Strip away all the supposed alienating qualities and you've got a basic adventure story. And you know what? It's bloody good.
I of course had my reservations. But within the opening five minutes I was instantly engaged. These strange men, with bones through their noses, spouting a weird language and living in a forest are shown bantering, playing practical jokes and complaining about their mother-in-laws. The unknown suddenly becomes the familiar, and all it took was five minutes. It seems that Gibbo's a clever story-teller.
What follows is a bracing tale as our hero 'Jaguar Paw' is taken away from his family and must make a dangerous trip in order to return to them.
Violence is present, but in a controlled fashion, so that the worst injuries are more suggested with quick editing than gratuitously put on screen. The actual gore is far less than that in your Hostel or Saw genre, but because you feel more for the characters the impact is tenfold.
You could try to read into the film, maybe finding a crazed religious leader taking too much pride in his land, destroying the earth and needlessly sacrificing men a little too familiar. But let's not - let's just watch it for what it is. A film with good characters, tension, excitement, strong direction and even a tapir-mounted camera. Come on - a camera on the back of a running tapir. How can you not like it?
Of course, the story isn't quite deep enough to warrant a huge emotional or intellectual impact, and the sprint to the finish ends in more of a half-hearted jog than a beefy finale that might've satisfied a little more. But this is still a good film.
"This is brilliant entertainment." - The Sun
The first part of this testimonial fills me with confidence that I'm about to watch a decent film. The second part doesn't. I don't want to be too snobbish, and I've no doubts that whoever reviews films for the Sun knows their stuff, but I only attach limited value to the recommendations of a newspaper that feels it has to put the most important words in an article in BIG, BOLD LETTERS. Just in case you'd otherwise miss them. With the other thumbs-up references for Apocalypto coming from Heat, Zoo and the Mirror, I wasn't expecting this to be a classic.
Pleasingly, though, I was surprised - if you can set aside a few historical oversights and allow for more than a couple of too-convenient twists of fate, Mel Gibson's film is a thoroughly entertaining couple of hours that flies by at pace.
Set in the dying days of the Mayan civilization, Apocalypto is the story of a young hunter, Jaguar Paw, who is captured from his ransacked village and taken to the great Mayan city of the region. Destined for ritual sacrifice, Jaguar Paw must escape the clutches of his captors and return to the wife and child he left behind.
Ostensibly, this is an action film; full of conflict and tension. Indeed, pretty much the entire second half of the film is a wonderfully executed extended chase sequence as Jaguar Paw flees for his homelands, trying to shake off his none-too-pleased former captors. Gibson has though, put enormous effort into creating a relatively authentic backdrop for his otherwise straightforward plot to play out in - although it's not likely to please scholars, there's more than enough attention to detail here to convince the layman. The cast, all indigenous actors, speak in Mayan - the film wholly subtitled. The visuals, too, ring true, from the small touches on the actors' garments and body decorations to the grand temples and pyramids of the Mayan citadel.
The bulk of the film's budget could quite conceivably have gone on this location; frenzied crowd scenes, dizzying constructions and some stunning camerawork combine to make the scenes in which the captives are brought into the city probably the most memorable of Apocalypto.
This is also the period of the film which will test your stomach if blood-and-guts aren't to your taste - granted, it's all in context, even if there's some doubt as to whether the Mayans were quite this sacrifice-hungry. However, you almost feel that in trying to show human sacrifice in a no-holds-barred, realistic light, Gibson has gone a bit too far. Some of the shots just don't seem necessary. After all, there's a lot to be said for the power of the unsaid and leaving things to the imagination. In being quite so explicit, the
film seems to miss a trick slightly.
As an action film, then, Apocalypto works, maintaining a good pace and heaping on the style. There is also, however, another layer to the movie, one that attempts to ask questions about morality, loyalty and, ultimately, how civilisations stand or fall. Indeed, the film begins with a Will Durrant
quote alluding to these themes:
"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."
This certainly fits in with the time period the film is set in; the fading of the Mayas and the forthcoming arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. It is too something reflected in aspects of the plot; certainly, when Jaguar Paw arrives in the Mayan city, he is surrounded by excess and extravagance, individuals of great power and wealth, and minimal regard for the lives of perceived lower beings (shown both in the quantity of the killings and the nature of the disposal of the bodies).
Though there are elements of the film which refer back to the quote which begins it, however, the messages Apocalypto tries to get across are a bit jumbled. Partly, this is due to the rather polarised way in which Jaguar Paw's tribe and the Mayans from the citadel are portrayed. Although they all come from the same region, and, one would imagine, have much in common, there is a stark difference in their characters. Jaguar Paw and his pals are good, those who take them captive are bad - depicted as barbaric, animalistic beings with only base emotions.
The human sacrifice shown in the film is certainly pretty gruesome, and sits rather uncomfortably with our sensibilities, but it was a significant part of Aztec and Mayan culture - it's strange that Gibson then displays it as something practiced only by senseless, deranged people. It's not that I resent the portrayal of Mayan culture so much - rather, it just seems a misjudgment on the director's part to present things in such simplistic terms when he's trying to make deeper points about civilizations and human nature. Good guys and bad guys don't really fit into this type of project.
All in all, it at times feels as if Gibson is caught between trying to create a broadly-appealing action film and a historical epic. On the first count, he may succeed, but Apocalypto isn't quite capable of being both things at once.
The inconsistencies and muddy choices that lie just below the surface are easily overlooked, however - Apocalypto is wildly entertaining and a joy on the eyes. Sit back, put your brain into a lower gear and you'll get the best out of this vivid, breathless adventure.
Apocalypto, is there anybody out there who haven't jet hear about this one. Bloody, strange, spoken in one of the lest know languages. Cast made not from actors, but from people who just look the right way. Mel Gibson did it again.
Even though this is the kind of movie that interest me, I haven't seen it the theatres. I have waited that it came on DVD. Last night I had finally oportunitete to see it.
Right from the start, it droved me in. Realistic way of recording, very convincing way of acting, tolls and weapons are realistic, also the usage of them is realistic and could be historical correct, with some minor mistakes.
And what is story all about. Jaguar Paw is village chiefs son. Village is small and well connected, everybody knows everybody, they are fond of each other, always helping one and other. But one day the rival and more cruel tribe comes and takes some men and women as slaves. Some villagers are killed, some raped. Jaguar Paw hides his wife and son in a Mayan well. After he is taken away they are trapped in the well and he is determent to get back and save them. The journey takes a couple of days and the hostile tribe brings them to their "town" where bloody sacrificing is going on. By luck he is saved from being sacrificed. By some wisdom and help of one of his friends he escapes back to the jungle. But 10 man hunters go after him. Commitment, love, sacrifice, bravery, knowledge of the jungle, are things that manage to bring him closer to his trapped wife and son. Leaving bodies of his peruses behind him, but they are even more egger to catch him. Will he manage to save his wife, when the rains starts and when the hunters are getting closer and closer to him?
Directing is superb, editing makes this movie like a documentary. And that means like that you would join the tribes with a recording crew. Tribe is doing it business and the recording crew in observing. It's very realistic. Acting is excellent, you really believe that they are tribal people. People that lived five hundred years ago in the forest. Soundtrack is tribal like too.
Even thou the story is fascinating, the firs half is excellent, but the middle part is a little to "lucky" and supernatural like, for me. The chase and the running, is again very interesting. If the middle part would be as realistic as the rest two, I would mark it whit a 10.
When talking about tribes and for us foreign worlds, this is the movie to look upon.
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Written by: Mel Gibson & Farhad Safinia
Released: 5th January, 2007
Rudy Youngblood as Jaguar Paw
Dalia Hernández as Seven
Jonathan Brewer as Blunted
Morris Birdyellowhead as Flint Sky
Carlos Emilio Báez as Turtles Run
Amilcar Ramírez as Curl Nose
Israel Contreras as Smoke Frog
Israel Ríos as Cocoa Leaf
María Isabel Díaz as Mother in Law
Espiridion Acosta Cache as Old Story Teller
Mayra Serbulo as Young Woman
Iazua Larios as Sky Flower
Lorena Hernández as Village Girl
Itandehui Gutierrez as Wife
Sayuri Gutierrez as Eldest Daughter
The first scene of Apocalypto opens with a frenzied race through the jungle with the main character, Jaguar Paw, and fellow tribesmen Blunted, Flint Sky, Curl Nose, Smoke Frog and Cocoa Leaf, hunting down a Tapir. Having manged to kill the Tapir, the group set about dividing the meat into equal portions. Jaguar Paw, as is custom, removes the internal organs, and allocates them, as one would trophies, to the men. When the Tapir's testicles are offered to Blunted, it is obvious that he does not much appreciate being given that particular organ as a reward for his part in the hunt, however, after much coaxing by the others, he accepts the reward and bites into one of the animal's bits. Disgusted by the taste, Blunted immediately spits it out, and glares at his fellow hunters who have burst into laughter. Blunted soon discovers that he has been the butt of their prank, and is somewhat upset by this. Flint Sky, who is Jaguar Paw's father, takes Blunted aside, and asks him why he is teased by the others. Blunted responds that it is because he has been unable to get his woman pregnant, and because of this, his woman's mother is constantly on his back browbeating him for his inability to produce children. Seemingly taking pity on him, Flint Sky removes what appears to be some sort of reddish leaf from his pouch, and offers it to Blunted. Explaining that it should be rubbed on his genitals before he has intercourse... happy, Blunted returns to help the others divide the meat, and joins in their laughter. However, the cheerful banter of the hunting party is cut short when Jaguar Paw senses a presence in the jungle behind them, and calls out to the intruders.
After a tense moment, the intruders show themselves, and there is a momentary standoff as the two groups eye each other in apprehension.
Flint Sky diffuses the tension by telling the intruders his name, and explaining that the jungle is his hunting ground, that before him it was his father's hunting ground, and that it is now his son's hunting ground and will one day be the hunting ground of all his descendents. The intruders, accepting this, give Flint Sky and the other hunters some freshly caught fish, and request permission to cross their territory. Flint Sky, Jaguar Paw and the others accept the gift, and give their permission. With permission granted, and no doubt feeling safer for having received it, more members of the intruding tribe appear, dozens upon dozens of them, their bodies bruised and bloodied, their skin caked in filth, and the fear so apparent in their eyes that Jaguar Paw is taken aback. What he had thought to be an intruding hunting party, has become a mass exodus of a tribe obviously running from something evil. Noticing his son's apprehension, Flint Sky explains to Jaguar Paw that fear is contagious, and that people cannot survive with fear as it is destructive. He tells his son that he must strike fear from his heart.
That night, Flint Sky calls for a tribal gathering, and a story is told at this gathering that catches Jaguar Paw's attention; It is the story of how humans are never satisfied with what they have, and how they strive for more and more until eventually there is no more to be had. With this story still very much on his mind, Jaguar Paw, his heavily pregnant woman, Seven and his young son, Turtles Run, retire for the night. In the early hours of the morning, Jaguar Paw awakens from a nightmare in which he has seen one of the intruders of the previous day. The intruder had a gaping hole in his chest and was holding his heart in his hand, beside him a dog was barking. The intruder's eyes had been filled with horror, and from his bloodied mouth came the word; "run". With the word still ringing in his ears, Jaguar Paw awakes to the sound of a dog barking on the outskirts of the village. Seven gives a groan in her sleep, and mutters to Jaguar Paw that he should do her a favour and kill the annoying dog who is barking. This draws Jaguar Paw's attention to the incessant barking, and he leaves the hut. As Jaguar Paw's eyes take in the sleeping village, silence descends and he spies a movement just on the outskirts of the village. Realizing that they are about to be attacked, Jaguar Paw collects his pregnant wife and child, and leads them from the village just as the enemy descends upon the sleeping villagers.
Managing to lower his woman and child into a deep cavernous dry well, he ties one end of a rope to a rock and tosses the other end into the well (in case he doesn't return so that his wife can climb out), and tells his wife that he will come back for her once the battle is over. Unfortunately, when Jaguar Paw glances towards the area where the well is situated, an enemy warrior notices and decides to inspect the area. Finding the deep well, the enemy warrior looks down but can't see anyone inside (Seven and her son have hidden inside a recess). About to give up, the warrior spies the rope that is dangling down the wall of the cave, and cuts it. Horrified, Jaguar Paw manages to remain calm and quiet, but he knows that when the rains come, they will fill up the well and his woman and son will die. He vows that come what may, he will return to the well in order to save them...
Taken prisoner with other survivors from his village, Jaguar Paw's destiny will take him to the heart of the Maya Empire where he will discover a world filled with fear, violence and depravity...
From the very beginning to its inevitable end, Apocalypto takes you on a mind-boggling journey that will make your heart ache and tie your feelings into knots. Apocalypto has been criticized as being excessively violent, but to this I say "rubbish". I have seen more blood and violence in zombie movies than I have in Apocalypto. Moving on...
From the very first scene, the viewer enters into the world of the jungle people, the Indians who live outside the Maya Empire. They are simple, innocent people, who possess a love and respect for life that is unwavering. They possess a sense of humour, and much like us (their modern-day counterparts) they can be mischievous pranksters. However, unlike us, they live in peace and are content with their lives. Their ability to love is overwhelming, and this love extends not only to their own intimate circle of family and friends, but to everyone within the village... thus making the entire tribe one large family.
Jaguar Paw's tribe is a happy one, and the viewer is made to feel this happiness, and to wish they were a part of it... and when Blunted again becomes the butt of some mischievous prank, you can't help but burst into laughter. This movie is, without a doubt, the most convincing cinematic achievement of all time. This is a movie without actors... each and every individual is so wonderfully authentic and believable that you desperately want to believe that they are real.
Of course, all good things always come to an end, and with a heavy heart, the viewer is torn from the relative security and happiness of village life, and plopped into a world that is terrifyingly violent and realistically sinsiter.
When the village is attacked by the Maya warriors, every sense is awoken with a jolt... the screams are piercing, the insane violence is heart-wrenching, and the blood fills you with horror as you watch the people you have fallen in love with fall prey to murderous insanity. Those men who have survived the battle are trussed up like pigs, and forced to watch their young women being raped, tortured and murdered. The older women and the surviving men will be kept alive to serve as slaves or sacrificial lambs, and the children will be left behind, no doubt to die. The horror of it all assaults you on an emotional and physical level, and the sadness is overwhelming, especially when the children run after their parents who are being led away from the village by their captors. The children are in shock, unable to understand what has happened, their sobs are heart-wrenching as they stumble after their parents in a final attempt to stay together. When the children's parents are forced to cross a dangerously churning river, the children have no choice but to remain behind. In this scene, one of the older women, who has been captured and forced into slavery, glances back and sees her daughter standing on the opposite shore with an infant in her arms and surrounded by a dozen or so sobbing children. The woman's daughter is the eldest of the children, perhaps 10 or 11 years of age, yet she has courageously taken charge and calls out to her mother... "Don't worry. I have taken the children as mine... I will take care of them." The young girl is bravely holding back her tears, which is more than I can say for myself who began weeping in earnest.
Upon entering Maya territory, the lush vibrancy of the jungle is left behind, and the viewer is plunged into a world that is raw with the fallen bodies of those who have succumbed to the plague which has stricken the Mayas. A young girl sobs over her dead mother's body, and when she sees the Maya warriors leading the slaves towards the city, she attempts to join them. The warriors, fearful of the diseased child, tell her to stay away, but she is desperate to join them and insists. One of the warriors picks up a stick, and begins to physically push her away with it... and then her attention falls upon Jaguar Paw, and she goes into a trance, uttering the Prophecy of the Jaguar, telling the warriors that the sun will darken within the sky, and that the man who runs with the jaguar will lead to the downfall and inevitable end of the Maya Empire (the general idea... can't remember the entire prophecy as it was quite long). The eeriness of such a young child speaking words of doom is extremely disturbing and disconcerting, but serves as the bridge that will take you from the plague-ridden outskirts of the city surrounded by dying corn fields and rotting bodies, and into the heart of the great Maya city where slaves covered in white lyme dust spit out blood as they stagger under loads of lyme stones which will eventually be burned and pounded into dust.
The city is overflowing with people, and the chaos is palpable. There are heads displayed on spikes, and as Jaguar Paw is led through the city, he spies heads rolling down the side of the pyramid-type temple, and a small river of blood flowing down the steps. There are women with blue paint dripping from their hands reaching out to him and the other surviving men, and they are painted blue. Following this ritual, their senses still reeling from the onslaught of noise and the crush of human bodies, Jaguar Paw and the others are led to the top of the temple and are faced with the horrifying truth of what the future holds for them. They are to be sacrificed...
Fortunately for him, a full solar eclipse saves Jaguar Paw from having his heart torn from his chest and having his head chopped off and displayed on a spike, but his torment at the hand of the Mayas is far from over, and what follows is a frenzied race through the jungle as Jaguar Paw attempts to save his woman and child before the rain begins whilst being hunted by a group of warriors who consider him no better than a Tapir (a sort of wild pig or boar). At this point, the young girl's words about the Jaguar Prophecy come back to haunt the viewer, and you wish to God you'd paid more attention...
The opening quote to Apocalypto; "A great civilization is not conquered from without, until it has destroyed itself from within," by Will Durant, is without a doubt intended to prepare the viewer for what is to come, and sets the stage (to perfection) for some serious thought-provoking moments.
Apocalypto is supposedly based upon the Jaguar Prophecy which foretells the end of the Maya Empire, but whether or not the movie is a factual and realistic telling of the prophecy is as much your guess as it is mine. Experts on the subject are still debating the matter, and I suspect they will be debating it for many years to come. The Jaguar Prophecy is nothing new to anyone, all religions possess their own prophecy that describes the end of the world.
Norse Mythology refers to the end of time as the Battle of Ragnarok, and Christians have their Book of Revelations. Note that the Mayas believed in the repetition of history, and that their calendar was divided into cycles... cycles which inevitably repeat themselves at some point or other. I am not an expert on this subject, and am only bringing this up because even today, many believe that history does repeat itself. There is a scene in Apocalypto where Jaguar Paw stumbles across a mass grave containing the bodies of hundreds of thousands of people, all piled one on top of the other, this scene is evocative of the decadence of ancient Rome and the Holocaust. Was this particular scene meant to enforce the belief that history does indeed repeat itself, or is there a moral to this story along the lines of; social advancement and development leading inevitably to self-destruction? Who knows, I'm not a philosopher, but I wouldn't put it past Mel Gibson to try and shove some sense of awareness or bit of wisdom down our throats!
There are, of course, the inevitable inaccuracies that make a movie all that more exciting, but deviate from the truth... I have found a few... notably the reference to human sacrifice as being common practice for the Maya. In truth, such sacrifices were common for the Aztecs and Toltecs, not the Maya. As for the decapitated heads displayed on spikes, well, that was a Spanish conquistador specialty.
All in all, Apocalypto is a Mel Gibson masterpiece that brings to life a civilisation we are not fully acquainted with. The directing is impeccable, the scene settings are mind-boggling, and the acting is pure perfection. With a runtime of 139 minutes most will think the movie too long, but you're wrong... if anything, the movie ends long before you want it to. I can't even begin to explain the emotional roller-coaster ride this movie makes you go on, but what I can say is that when the final credits go up, you will feel emotionally drained... and will remember this movie forever.
Mel Gibson presents a truely riveting film. The film follows an ancient civilistation in central america when they are attacked by another group. They are dragged and tied for a long time before being presented to a new civilisation as either slaves or sacrifices. Main actor jaguar paw manages to escape and starts an adrenaline packed journey as he tries to get back to his family. However he is being chased down by some highly skilled assassins and they have no plans to let him go free.
This film truely represents action and adventure as it is non- stop. The intensity of the film made my heart skip a beat and it truely is a quality film.
I had a big worry before watching the film as only subtitles are available. However their is very little talking and after a a few minutes you dont even realise you are reading what is being said.
I wasn't looking forward to this film but when my wife finally convinced me, I must admit, I really did enjoy watching it,
The film is mainly centred around a young warrior called Jaguar Paw, and it is set in the twylight days of the mysterious South American Mayan civilisation. The film follows Jaguar Paw whose tribe is slaughtered by hunters. He is captured and taken to the Mayan city where he faces the same harrowing death as many other prisoners. Driven by the power of his love for his family, he manages to escape, and is pursued by the hunters. A frantic adrenaline pumping jungle chase ensues. To add to the tension, this is all happening while his wife and young son are stuck in a hole in the ground as the heavy rain pours in.
Once the actual chase starts, this film is absolutely 'a thrill a minute entertainment' as it is full of familiar cliched scenes including waterfall jumps, quicksand, poison darts, and head-chopping but all this merely adds to the drama, and somehow makes the film more 'Reality' rather than 'Hollywood'
Whilst this film was written/directed and produced by Mel Gibson it is the quality of the actors, who are all indigenous Americans, that make this film universally first-class.
I strongly recommend you watch this film, and you will be glued to the telly throughout. One word of warning though, there is a lot of violence and there are violent scenes throughout.
Never has a film made me think so much after it or had such an affect on me. Mel Gibson has again created an absolutely outstanding and stunning film!
Following the story of 'Jaguar Paw' and his tribe, you are shown the absolute horrors of what has happened in the past and what possibly continues to happen in civilisations outside of our modern cultures. It hits hard. Some of the characters are extremely menacing and you find yourself praying for 'Jaguar Paw' his wife, son, unborn baby and tribe as he attempts his journey home after being attacked and captured.
This film is certianly not for the faint hearted, as there are some very gruesome and vivid scenes, such as some memebrs of the tribe being sacrificed, very graphically. The 18 age rate is certainly there for a reason on this film!
Despite the horror of some scenes, it is an absolutely stunning film!
Forget any off-screen impressions you may have of Mel Gibson, and experience Apocalypto as the mad, bloody runaway train that it is. The story is set in the pre-Columbian Maya population: one village is brutally overrun, its residents either slaughtered or abducted, by a ruling tribe that needs slaves and human sacrifices. We focus on the capable warrior Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), although Gibson skillfully sketches a whole population of characters--many of whom don't survive the early reels. Most of the film is set in the dense jungle, but the middle section, in a grand Mayan city, is a dazzling triumph of design, costuming, and sheer decadent terror. The movie itself is a triumph of brutality, as Gibson lets loose his well-established fascination with bodily mortification in a litany of assaults including impalement, evisceration, snakebite, and bee stings. It's a dark, disgusted vision, but Gibson doesn't forget to apply some very canny moviemaking instincts to the violence--including the creation of a tremendous pair of villains (strikingly played by Raoul Trujillo and Rodolfo Palacias). The film is in a Maya dialect, subtitled in English, and shot on digital video (which occasionally betrays itself in some blurry quick pans). Amidst all the mayhem, nothing in the film is more devastating than a final wordless exchange of looks between captured villager Blunted (Jonathan Brewer) and his wife's mother (Maria Isabel Diaz), a superb change in tone from their early relationship. Yes, this is an obsessive, crazed movie, but Gibson knows what he's doing. --Robert Horton