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In the Maya civilization, a peaceful tribe is brutally attacked by warriors seeking slaves and human beings for sacrifice for their gods. Jaguar Paw hides his pregnant wife and his son in a deep hole nearby their tribe and is captured while fighting with his people. An eclipse spares his life from the sacrifice and later he has to fight to survive and save his beloved family. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I couldn't believe two hours had gone by that quickly
Having some Mexican-Indian blood in me, I've always been interested in what I could read about the Aztecs and Mayans and others. But never did I achieve as elaborate a vision in my head, try as I might, as Mel Gibson has with the beautiful Apocalypto. Is it accurate? I've more than just strong doubts in at least one case, but like all good fiction, it probably tells more truth, despite its inaccuracies, than a dozen scholarly tomes. The movie is engrossing and, even more difficult, plausible and quite evocative. I would have bet any amount of money that this movie was impossible to make. And though some have complained that the film's ending involves an historical inaccuracy, I think there was more than enough reason to put it in.
There's a strong story that reminded me of other Third World folklore I've read, only better. In a lot of ways these people could have been North American Indians, but somehow that's not much of a criticism. And Gibson's recent PR problems only highlighted, for me, how it took an Australian-reared actor to make an exciting film about natives before Columbus. Clearly Hollywood is incapable of even conceiving of such a movie, much less bringing it brilliantly to life. Hollywood has an agenda and very narrow perspectives. It's agenda has no room for illuminating the humanity of non-Westerners, and there's too much relying on the same old set of sensibilities and intuition. I think if Hollywood is up in arms it ought to be because Gibson is making them look inept.
But as to this particular subject matter, there's no doubt in my mind that what fascinates most Anglos about the Aztecs and the Maya is the idea of human sacrifice. Gibson depicts the ritual as having an element of frenzy to it, and he may be right, but what is more convincing to me, at least, is his idea of what a village raid must have been like. His point by point reconstruction is pretty compelling, and I'm quite sure he could make some early American military raids on Indian villages so vivid and unforgettable that grown men would cry. I only hope he does, but as to this film, I would have depicted the human sacrifice with a nod toward a notion most Anglos find completely foreign, namely that these people understood that gain often entails pain, and they were willing to pay the price. Was it really so unreasonable that these people thought God might want them to create pain, and not just endure it, to gain His favor given that life entails so much struggle anyway? That willingness to endure pain clearly survives today, not the desire to create it in others, and that's the only point I would have added to this wonderful film.
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