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Apocalypto - Unrelenting Terror
Sharpened Bamboo, Wild Animals, and Blood-Thirsty Mayans
A Very Different Film
There is simply no other film that can be accurately compared to "Apocalypto." The mere fact that it was brought to film is amazing. While the film concentrates on a period of time between the flourishment of the Mayans and the infiltration of the Spanish, we know that that period spanned decades, and the film gives us a glimpse of the not-so-untroubled times for the local natives.
While the Mayans were flourishing, the civilization was also hopelessly corrupt in a moral/spiritual sense. Their regular blood sacrifices of human beings to their gods displayed a kind of inner-moral bankruptcy -- from which there was no return.
Our view of this "great" civilization is through the eyes of a captive villager, and, along with him, we are aghast at the decadence, the absolute indifference of individual life, the waste, the barbarism. By mere chance, coincidence or providence, our protagonist is able to escape immediate extinction. Most of the movie focuses on his adrenalin-filled run through the jungles -- with hopes of returning to his wife and son -- both left in a virtual pit of hopelessness and despair.
The odds seem insurmountable. Wounded, exhausted, shocked, our protagonist moves ahead -- at first with a pure sense of instinct then with his father's advice to feel no fear. These qualities, along with some very good luck allow him to gain an advantage over his relentless (and scary) adversaries.
Nothing seems predictable here. Advantages soon turn sour. It is only the uncanny willpower and perseverance of our protagonist that seems to propel him from capture and death. All spoken in a native tongue (with subtitles), the viewer is immersed in a point of unspeakable horror, chance and endurance. This film is unlike any other that I've seen. It's very, very powerful movie making. This is the best-directed film by Mel Gibson, and I can only hope that the Hollywood circuit allows him to go forward and explore new, unseen dimensions of the human experience.