Last night I watched Mel Gibson's movie Apocalypto which is an adventure movie concerning itself with the epic survival experience of a young South American man, Jaguar Paw, set against the backdrop of the waning days of the Mayan Empire, as he desperately tries to save his wife, Seven.

There's some trappings in the movie of maturity and spirituality, such as the sage advice that Jaguar Paw receives from his father, Flint Sky --seen there on the right-- while hunting, facing dangers never before encountered, and most of all, when facing death and ruin.

Both roles are played quite well by Rudy Youngblood and Morris Birdyellowhead, respectively. In fact the acting in this movie is so good it's very easy to believe you're actually seeing live footage of actual events taking place in the 1500s. Very impressive.

Unfortunately for Jaguar Paw and everyone in his village, the Mayans need sacrifices to appease the gods of their people. The Mayans have had a run of bad luck and the recent visit by Spaniards isn't helping any. So far flung villages that had never been exposed to the highland Mayan cities are now being "harvested" as can be seen over there on the right.

Apocalypto has received a lot of criticism for excessive violence but to my eye none of it is gratuitous. All the bloodshed seems quite in line with the era and events being chronicled. If anything , Gibson spares us some of the more nasty parts.

And talking about gruesome, the fellow over there on the right is Snake Ink (Rodolfo Palacios), one of the Mayan slavers who took a particular dislike to Jaguar Paw. He's one very scary dude!

The make-up, costumes, and scarification that adds to the backdrop of the movie is amazing. This is one very impressive visual extravaganza. The featurette included on the DVD about how the movie was made was worth the price of admission all by itself. The details about location, cast, crew, special effects and such were fascinating. An amazing film.

I'm currently reading an anthropology oriented book by Jared Diamond, Collapse, which uses the Mayan empire as one of its examples of societies that have collapsed in the past. This perspective added another element of interest to the movie, at least for me.

This is the villagers being taken across a river after they were captured. The two men in the front are the two lead warriors amongst the slavers followed by a number of villagers who are tied to a wood pole to keep them from escaping.

Apocalypto has a very realistic feel when conveying the tribulations of the villagers as they're being conveyed to the Mayan city. It's very easy to forget you're watching a movie.

You can get an idea of how beautiful the cinematography of this movie is from these 5 still shots. I've rarely seen a movie this strikingly beautiful.

This picture is of Jaguar Paw and his wife Seven, played by Dalia Hernández. She's so beautiful that you find yourself holding your breath when she looks directly at the camera. In the film she's pregnant and almost to term--which leads to a few complications in Jaguar Paw's plan to rescue her from the raiding Mayans.

I was expecting to not like this movie all that much but also expected to be impressed with the work behind it. However I think this is a wonderful movie. Much to my surprise. I heartily endorse it--but if violence bothers you, you might take a pass. I thought the violence in the movie was totally in line with the action but if you're sensitive to that sorta thing, it will bother you.


SassyAssy said…
Hmmm...maybe I will see if the boyfriend is up for renting this movie over the weekend!
kenju said…
I'll have to pass this one, Dave. I hate violence.
rosemary said…
I just read about the decline of the Mayan in Natn'l Geographic. Might just have to see this movie.
Deana said…
This movie really took me in. I thought it was excellent. The violence got me a few times but I understand that it does happen, stomach it or not, those people went through it.
MissMeliss said…
I don't mind violence in movies if it's not gratuitous violence...

I think Fuzzy wants to see this one more than I do, though.
tiff said…
It LOOKS gorgeous, but I'm all girl about not wanting to get into anything too violent. Makes me agitated - weird, I know.

I'd HAVE to know how this movie ended before I started it, just to alleviate some of the anxiety that sould no doubt be caused by anticipation.

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