In Apocalypto, there is an old man who tells a parable about mans need to fill a hole within his spirit by taking everything it can from nature until there is nothing left.
This parable is the essence of Mel Gibson’s latest film about a small Mayan village ravaged by a neighboring advanced civilization, which need fresh bodies as human sacrifices to appease their sun god, who they believe has brought plague and drought to their land.
The movie focuses on Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) who flees his captives and makes a desperate trek back to his family who were in hiding during the attack on their village. Hot on his trail are his captives led by Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) in a pulsating, action packed chase scene, that although takes up almost half of the film’s running time, seems to go by very quickly.
Shot with digital camera on location in Mexico, Mel Gibson has created a visually stunning action/adventure epic that although has divided many with its historical accuracy, has spared no expense in bringing life to a world before European colonization.
Costumes and make up are excellent, as are the cast who are made up of mostly new faces with Youngblood giving an impressive debut performance, while veteran actor Raoul Trujillo is very good as the villainous yet honorable warrior chief.
The popular consensus that Apocalypto is over the top in its portrayal of violence is baseless, and most probably made up by the same people who called Passion of the Christ anti Semitic. The violence is necessary for the story to be told effectively and handled well as this time Gibson does not resort to the “shock and awe” tactic used in Passion of the Christ.
What is similar to Gibson’s previous film is his insistence to have all of the dialogue spoken in an ancient tongue (Yucatec Maya in this instance) which much like Passion… works beautifully.
A film that would, nay should of gotten much more praise if critics had only focused more on the movie and not on the man behind the scene like they are bloody well supposed to, Apocalytpo remains a monumental achievement for director Mel Gibson.