Apocalypto (2006) Poster



Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (3)
While filming a 170-ft. waterfall for Jaguar Paw's jump scene, a real cow that was trying to cross upstream went over the falls. It emerged at the bottom alive and dazed, banging along rocks near the bank. Mel Gibson and crew were certain the cow was done for. After a local man swam into the river and calmed the cow, it climbed up on bank and began eating grass as if nothing had happened.
Many substantial speaking roles were filled by Mayan people who had never acted before. Sick Girl, who curses the hunting party as they and the captives pass right before entering the city, was played by a seven-year-old who lived in a dirt-floored hut in a village similar to Jaguar Paw's.
According to director Mel Gibson and co-writer Farhad Safinia's DVD commentary, the halting of the sacrifices at the onset of a solar eclipse is a carefully-timed ruse by the Mayan ruling class. As precocious astrologers, the Mayans used their knowledge of celestial phenomena to control the underclass.
(at around 1h 45 mins) For the waterfall jump scene, Rudy Youngblood jumped in a harness from a 15-story building in Veracruz over about 10 takes. The shot was digitally superimposed over the real waterfall later. After director Mel Gibson harassed Youngblood about his initial fear of jumping, Youngblood got together with the stunt crew and goaded Gibson into taking a jump himself.
During filming, severe flooding in Southern Mexico displaced at least 1 million people. The crew helped with flood relief.
(at around 35 mins) As a teenager, Mel Gibson was once called "almost" by an older boy, a deep insult. That inspired the line in which a headhunter calls Jaguar Paw "almost."
This movie's poster shows Middle Eye, not Jaguar Paw, running from his pursuers.
The teaser trailer for the movie has an almost entirely different cast than the one that ends up in the film.
Mel Gibson turned down the lead role in World Trade Center (2006) in order to direct this film.
Mel Gibson claimed that Rudy Youngblood was genuinely running from the jaguar, which was only kept from reaching him by a tether. Gibson added "You can't train a jaguar."
The amount of digital footage shot equals approximately 2 million feet of conventional film.
Special care was taken to protect the digital cameras from the unpredictable Mexican rain forest climate. They were covered with space blankets to reflect the extreme heat. Temperature was closely monitored via thermometers added to the cameras. For shooting at a waterfall, the cameras were put in specially-built Hydroflex splash bags designed by Pete Romano.
The film is allegedly inspired by the text of the Popol Vuh, sometimes called the Mayan Bible, and Spanish missionary descriptions of the Maya.
Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia tried hard to find actors that matched the archetype each character represented. For instance, Rudy Youngblood struck Gibson as the mythic archetype of a hero. Gibson saw that as necessary for people to identify with a foreign-language film about an indigenous American culture in the 16th century.
The eclipse scene is reminiscent of the 1948 Tintin album "Prisoners of the Sun", where an eclipse saves the protagonists from execution by an Incan cult.
(at around 57 mins) When the tree is cut down, nearly falling on the slaving party, Zero Wolf says, "Hey, I am walking here!"--A throw back reference to Ratso's (Dustin Hoffman) line in Midnight Cowboy (1969) when a taxi nearly ran him over.
Because of heavy rains in Mexico, the released date moved from August 4, 2006 to December 8, 2006.
" Apocalypto " was the last R-rated movie released under the Walt Disney banner.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
For the Italian release, the film was initially given the local equivalent of the G rating, albeit with a warning in most cinemas about the content being deemed unsuitable for children. This decision was overruled, and within six days the film was officially re-rated "not under 14".
Raw Leiba was originally offered the part of Hanging Moss, but turned it down due to time commitment needed in Mexico.

Director Cameo 

Mel Gibson: Gibson makes a brief, nearly hidden appearance in the Apocalypto trailer. Click the pause button when the screaming monkey appears, just after the pregnant woman, but before the solar eclipse, then use the left arrow (button) to step the video back, frame by frame, to the guys painted white. Step back another frame or two and you'll see Gibson, with a heavy beard, smoking a cigar.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Jaguars generally do not kill humans, though there have been a few cases. The method of attack is portrayed accurately. Other big cats asphyxiate their prey with a bite to the throat; jaguars kill with a penetrating bite to the brain.
Bodycount: 114.
Oracle Girl's entire prophecy comes true, including being "reborn" from mud and earth. When Jaguar Paw escapes from the sinkhole, he is black, like the Jaguar, and turns the tables on his pursuers.

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