By Mal Simons, Blockbuster.co.uk
“Before this day’s end, I will leave this world”
First Wallace, then Christ and now the Mayans; controversial Hollywood megastar Mel Gibson turns his attention to the final days of the Mayan civilisation in this action packed and brutally authentic film, written, directed and produced by Gibson himself.
Much has been said about Mel Gibson’s beliefs in recent years. Ever since he announced that he would be starting work on The Passion of the Christ
– an ‘authentic’ portrayal of the final days of Jesus Christ; Gibson has been a figure of controversy that has divided audiences. Whatever the truth in all this controversy, with Apocalypto, Gibson has proved once again that he is a great Hollywood director.
The history of Central America and the Mayan people is a fascinating one, a brutal civilisation that dominated parts of the Americas for thousands of years until Europeans arrived and changed everything. Apocalypto doesn’t attempt to explain the history of the Mayan people; instead, this is simply a great action adventure that involves Mayan characters and set in the jungles of Central America.
As with The Passion of the Christ which was filmed in the native tongue of Aramaic; Gibson has bravely filmed Apocalypto in the indigenous language of the Mayans. He has also employed a cast of Mesoamericans – complete unknowns who have never acted on screen before. This makes for a most authentic cinematic experience that transports the viewer back to the time of the Mayans.
“I am Jaguar Paw! This is my forest! My sons and their sons will hunt here after I am gone!”
The film centres on ‘Jaguar Paw’ (Rudy Youngblood); a simple hunter and family man whose village is attacked by brutal Holcane warriors led by Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo). Jaguar Paw is captured but not before he manages to hide his pregnant wife along with their young son, in a hole near the village. Forced to watch his father being killed in front of him by a sadistic Holcane warrior, he and the survivors from his village are led through the jungle to the Holcane capital where the rulers indulge in human sacrifices to appease the gods in the hope that their failing civilisation will be revived.
Jaguar Paw escapes but is pursued by warriors from the city determined to see him killed. Wounded and afraid for his wife and child, Jaguar Paw must get back to his family before they perish in the hole but with Zero Wolf closing in, out for revenge for the death of his beloved son, time may be running out for the young hunter.
With impressive sets, breathtaking cinematography and fantastic special effects, at it’s core, Apocalypto is an action film pure and simple, simply set at the time of the Mayans. From an accuracy angle, Gibson has gone all out to provide a glimpse into a long dead civilisation and similar to what happened after watching Ridley Scott’s Gladiator
, you really leave the film with a feeling that you were watching something real. Movies were meant for escapism – to transport the viewer to an imaginary world – a daydream on screen. Gibson has taken this to heart and his ‘daydream’ is well worth the effort. Add to your list now.
Last of the Mohicans