Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto' by Mel Gibson

Saw this last night. Excellent film, lot to think about. Most published reviewers say it is too violent. Guess they have not been to the cinema in the passed 20 years.

Few holes which won’t be mentioned due to it being early in its release. But a very interesting movie.

I liked it too, though I was expecting something a different story line for some reason. I don’t think it gave much to think about though, it was a fairly standard plot without much depth. The only thing that was terribly unique about it was the setting and the language spoken. As for the violence, sure it was violent but I certainly didn’t think it was too violent, certainly not more than say Saving Private Ryan or even Gladiator really, well maybe one part.

How badly did it mistreat Mayan civilization? Was it a bunch of Hollywood stereotypes, or he actually do some research into this? My best friend, an Archeologist (he’ll be a real one in a year), wants to see this but I have a feeling the rampant inaccuracy will make it hard to watch.

National Geographic has an interview on this:

Thanks for the info!

While the movie certainly got its facts wrong on a number of counts, at least it looks like it’s combined aspects of a few different civilizations and time periods and Hollywoodized them, rather than drawing on preconceived perception. Then again, I’m guessing that some aspects of the movie that match the Aztechs but not the Mayans was just a coincidence. But… maybe worth seeing afterall.

Vandy professor calls it “amazingly racist.”

Well, that’s that then. I recognize that people are more likely to call “racist” about this thing because it’s Mel Gibson, but I would have expected it from almost anyone in Hollywood. Add to that the fact that Gibson by his upbringing alone is not going to have an objective take on the Mayan religion. Still, there was Braveheart, so there was hope. But… nope.

Hold on, are you holding up Braveheart as historically accurate? They’d have to dress up the Spanish in Space Invaders costumes (or the yellow leader from Galaga) to be less historically accurate in this movie than they were in Braveheart.

No, sorry. I’m not holding Braveheart up as accurate, but I thoguht it managed to be a good, dramatic movie without being overly callous towards the people it depicts.

Then again, I haven’t watched it in a few years, so if I’m wrong about that too, so be it.

From that article it seems like he should have caledl it “amazingly inaccurate” as opposed to than “amazingly racist.” But does it purport to be accurate? Or is it a movie made to entertain. And is it any more inaccurate than, say, The Patriot or Braveheart?

Seems like a tempest in a teapot, unless Gibson is saying this is some super accurate depiction of the Mayans, in which case, you can call shenanagans on him.

Saw it, enjoyed it. It’s a formula capture-escape-chase action adventure set in the 16th century Yucatan.

What Mel seems to have done is compress and combine many different things to make it all straightforward. In short, it looks like he took a primitive village on the periphery of the Mayan world, but not actually really part of it, and put it a couple of days’ walk from a city. The city is portrayed as failing socially and economically in the manner of the Maya in the early medieval era, but is depicted at a much later time period, and has a lot of Aztec trappings (such as the production-line sacrifices: The Aztecs could get through 20,000 sacrifices a day). So the film combines the local civs and compresses a few hundred years to get Mayan decline, Aztec brutality and the arrival of a different kind of nasty into a 120 minute movie.

What’s disappointing about it isn’t really the inaccuracy itself, because it’s still beautiful and convincing, but the fact that by abstracting it into a kind of smorgasbord of Mesoamerican cultural trappings, it precludes him from homing in on details. The film really doesn’t have a lot of detail, despire the use of a local language and its unique subject matter suggesting a lot would be offered.

Another thing is, I think, the brutality itself is fun, but not really necessary. This could have been another Braveheart – honestly, a great family action film – were it not for the bouncing heads, flopping bodies with blood squirting from severed necks, rotting mass graves, silly OTT hunting traps, etc etc.

I recall the English having a very negative reaction toward Braveheart when it was released, though this was nothing compared to their displeasure with Gibson’s The Patriot (not to be confused with Seagal’s The Patriot). Of course, when the latter came out, they were already feeling a bit miffed by that U-571 business.

Another form of [nonlethal] sacrifice to the Maya is auto-sacrifice, or bloodletting, which was carried out by males by perforating the penis and by women who would pull ropes through their tongues. This blood was used in ancestor veneration and other rituals.

Not good! Not good!

“Excuse me, Mr. Shaman, but might you have Prince Albert on demand?”

From that article it appears the professor is “amazingly stupid”. Racist?

Jeez, if there’s one civilization I don’t mind getting the short end of the stick in cinema, it’s one that practiced human sacrifice.

Saw it today, thought it was great. I don’t understand the cries of racism outside of a knee-jerk reaction to it being directed by Gibson. The major theme is centered around the self, the belonging of oneself to the group, and the threat of the Other. As the film progresses, the boundaries and definitions of all those things shift, and the finale drives home the intensely subjective nature of how we perceive them. As such, it could easily be said that the film is talking about racism in several ways, but I would not characterize it as racist.

No, it’s not historically accurate or a perfect depiction of Mayan culture (or Aztec, for that matter), but it doesn’t claim to be. The words “Maya” and “Aztec” are never used, the city has no name, and the civilization and events depicted is simply a fictional one used to tell the story of the film. I see no problem with this.

For those decrying Apocalypto’s defiling of history and culture, maybe someone should let them know that there’s actually a little paragraph in the credits of almost every movie that tells you it’s not actually real.

It is if you’re English. It’s part of Mel Gibson’s English-hater’s Trilogy, which goes from Gallipoli (excellent and accurate), to Braveheart (fun, even though inaccurate, and offensively anti-English in its liberal truth-stretching), to The Patriot (gawdawful, and almost maniacal in its anti-English propaganda).

Anyway, I don’t think it should have any impact on whether or not you should see Apocalypto, other than to trend towards seeing it if you like Braveheart.

Whilst I haven’t seen the film, and therefore can’t comment on it specifically, I think that any film that looks specifically at a culture is laying itself open to charges of racism. This mainly comes about because any inaccuracy is going to be taken to heart by the people that it is about. The problem is then compounded when the film is made by someone who is not part of the culture. A tendency there is to focus on the aspects of the culture that are recognizable to those outside it but which may end up angering people who ‘know better’. Again, I haven’t seen the film but I doubt that Gibson was trying to insult the Mayans, just that people may have been looking for things to complain about from day one.

Gibson gets away with Braveheart because he panders to the Scots and, despite his anti-English stance, I haven’t actually met many English people that really gave a toss about his take on the story, more just enjoyed the film as a film.

And this is all Gibsons credit?
A movie by Peter Weir (Aussie, also written by an Aussie), himself (American/Aussie and written by an American) and a talentless german (but written by a talentless American)?

Gibson gets away with Braveheart because he panders to the Scots and, despite his anti-English stance, I haven’t actually met many English people that really gave a toss about his take on the story, more just enjoyed the film as a film.

You can put me in that camp and I mean come on, we’re kind of used to being the hollywood bad guys of the 90s. I can cope with being bastards in films like Ghandi and Gallipoli because, well, we were. In braveheart he could only have turned “The English” into bigger caricatures if he’d got billy zane to reprise his role in Titanic for every single English character in the film.

By Patriot, it just got boring, Yes Mel, We get it, you don’t like us very much, I’m still suprised that Pilate and all the people screaming to crucify jesus weren’t English in the Flogging of the Christ.

I’m now off to torture some puppies, laugh maniacally and twirl my mustache.