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Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" - It's No Bloody Good
Crosswalk ^ | Dec 8th, 2006 | Christian Hamaker

Posted on 12/08/2006 9:26:29 AM PST by TaraP

Release Date: December 8, 2006

Ever since Mel Gibson directed the amazingly successful “The Passion of the Christ,” he has been dogged by questions of whether that film is anti-Semitic in its portrait of Jewish complicity in the death of Christ. He also has been accused of reveling in cinematic violence – an action-movie star who chooses violent roles in front of the camera and violent stories to film as a director.

Gibson’s recent outburst after being arrested for drunken driving revealed an ugly streak that emboldened those who believe him to be an anti-Semite. Now, with “Apocalypto,” the filmmaker gives his detractors plenty of additional evidence to bolster their claim that he has an unseemly obsession with violence. What’s missing this time is a larger context for the graphic images to which “Apocalypto” viewers are subject.

No central theological debate, as in “The Passion of the Christ.” No ties to European ancestry and national pride, as in “Braveheart.” No, “Apocalypto” is a savage, repellent film that raises serious questions about Gibson’s interest in the worst kinds of human suffering.

The film begins with a group of jungle-dwellers, including Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), living happily as a group. They hunt for their dinner and play practical jokes on each other. Some of these are crude. When one warrior confides that he can’t impregnate his wife, the cruel advice of friends leads him to engage in behaviors that end in public embarrassment.

The tribe’s problems don’t appear to extend beyond these personal problems until word of impending trouble arrives comes from a group of uprooted natives. In the film’s strongest, eeriest sequence, one of the members of the group reveals that they have been chased from their homes by fierce mercenaries. After they continue on their journey, an insightful elder tribesman, sensing fear among the fleeing natives, lays out the film’s central message. “Fear is a sickness,” he tells Jaguar Paw. “It will crawl into your soul. Strike it from your heart.”

With the arrival of the marauding warriors, Jaguar Paw will have to confront his own fears and attempt to overcome them. He and his fellow tribesmen – minus his pregnant wife and child, whom Jaguar Paw hides in a deep pit during the attack on the group – will undergo a lengthy march to a ritual sacrifice, where their blood will be shed to appease a Mayan deity.

In a strange twist, Jaguar Paw finds himself not sacrificed by the Mayans, but on the run from them, determined to return to his wife and child before their lack of food and exposure to natural elements can doom them. Dialogue is minimal, other than Jaguar Paw’s taunts and verbal reminders to himself. As his confidence grows, he remembers the advice from earlier in the film. “I am Jaguar Paw,” he says. “This is my forest. I am not afraid.”

“Apocalypto” can be divided roughly into three sections. The first section portrays Jaguar Paw’s tribe and their harmonious existence within the jungle. The second section is the long death march of the surviving tribe members. The final section is an extended chase, with several men pursuing Jaguar Paw through the jungle, over a waterfall and on to Jaguar Paw’s destination.

Gibson claims to have made a film that shows how civilizations – in this case, the Mayans – destroy themselves from within. But the film’s message is not coherent. If anything, “Apocalypto” boils down to one man’s attempts to protect his family from captors, and then free himself in time to rescue his loved ones. On that much diminished level, the film is somewhat effective, but the outcome so strains credulity that it tests any good will viewers might have saved up for the finale. Moreover, the film is so soaked in scenes of stabbings, human organ removal and beheadings that it provokes disgust rather than any sort of thoughtful engagement.

Gibson’s interest in violence was apparent in the director’s Oscar-winning film “Braveheart,” then confirmed by “The Passion of the Christ.” But that film’s very subject matter – crucifixion – arguably lent itself to such explicit imagery, leading “The Passion” and its director to be championed by conservative commentators and many Christians who admired the film and its director’s uncompromising artistic vision.

“Apocalypto” is an uncompromising artistic vision of its own, but with no theological framework to guide it, it’s difficult to see how this gruesome film could be recommended for Christian audiences of any age. Although technically impressive – the cinematography is outstanding, and the unknown faces cast in leading roles are striking and memorable – “Apocalypto” is the worst kind of failure. It wraps a tepid tale of a woman and child in peril around a story of violent spectacle, recreated with passion and precision, but never illuminating or edifying. For a film full of intriguing visuals, it’s a remarkably ugly work.


TOPICS: TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: 2hoursofuglypeople; apocalypto; gibson; mel; melgibson

1 posted on 12/08/2006 9:26:35 AM PST by TaraP
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To: All

I thought the movie would center on the Mayan Prediction that the Sun will blow up on 12/12/2012?

Even the Scientific Community has said the Sun will be at it's highest peak of exploding sunspots on that date?


2 posted on 12/08/2006 9:28:56 AM PST by TaraP
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To: TaraP
Mel's sick and needs help. He's hiding his dark side less and less.
3 posted on 12/08/2006 9:32:11 AM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: TaraP

I have zero interest in this movie and it has nothing to do with Mel Gibson. I have forgiven him long ago for his mistakes...we all have them. I have watched almost every movie he has made or stared in, but this one just seems very boring. I liked the Passion and put up with the other language but we knew the story so it was easy to follow. No deal on this one. Hopefully others will be interested and go see it.


4 posted on 12/08/2006 9:32:45 AM PST by napscoordinator
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To: TaraP
“Apocalypto” is an uncompromising artistic vision of its own, but with no theological framework to guide it, it’s difficult to see how this gruesome film could be recommended for Christian audiences of any age.

So Christians are only supposed to see movies that have a religious message? What a silly, limited view.

I haven't seen it yet, but everything I have seen of it, and every person whose opionion I respect (and some I don't) have said it's a awesome film. I can't wait to see it myself.

5 posted on 12/08/2006 9:35:12 AM PST by Hugin
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To: TaraP

I have less than zero interst in this film.


6 posted on 12/08/2006 9:38:27 AM PST by kerryusama04 (Isa 8:20, Eze 22:26)
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To: Hugin

Of Course Not..

I will proably see it, I just thought it would be about the Mayan Prediction of 2012 which is kind of interesting
plus the title of the movie would make you think that.

Mayan Prediction.
The point of interest for these early astronomers seems to have been the projected end date in 2012 A.D., rather than the beginning date in 3114 B.C. Having determined the end date in 2012 (for reasons we will come to shortly), and calling it 13.0.0.0.0, they thus proclaimed themselves to be living in the 6th baktun of the Great Cycle. The later Maya certainly attributed much mythological significance to the beginning date, relating it to the birth of their deities, but it now seems certain that the placement of the Long Count hinges upon its calculated end point. Why did early Mesoamerican skywatchers pick a date some 2300 years into the future and, in fact, how did they pinpoint an accurate winter solstice? With all these considerations one begins to suspect that, for some reason, the ancient New World astronomers were tracking precession.


7 posted on 12/08/2006 9:40:45 AM PST by TaraP
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To: TaraP
“Apocalypto” is a Rorschach inkblot test for Mel. Here he is with several hundred million dollars, complete artistic, funding, and production freedom, and this is what he comes out with.

The 'test results' are very revealing indeed. Mel needs help.
8 posted on 12/08/2006 9:47:57 AM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: AmericaUnited

I want to see it. I'm interesting in the Mayans and in the dark side of humanity. Evil is much more fascinating to me than good, especially since the most evil of men believe they are doing good.


9 posted on 12/08/2006 9:50:11 AM PST by Cyclopean Squid (Euphorion Falls)
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To: TaraP

Maybe I'll go to one of his movies when he starts using English again.


10 posted on 12/08/2006 9:51:30 AM PST by MizSterious (Anonymous sources often means "the voices in my head told me.")
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To: AmericaUnited

I like violent movies, and I don't expect every film to have "European pride" or whatever the author here is talking about.

It looks like a great story and I look forward to watching it.


11 posted on 12/08/2006 9:53:55 AM PST by The Old Hoosier (Right makes might)
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To: TaraP

They are a hundred other people more fked up and violent than Mel freaking Gibson.

Where the hell are these "tut tut you violent monster" comments for psychos like Eli Roth or the @$$shards who keep churning out dreck such as turista, descent, the cave, etc ad nauseam?

how about that Italian guy who made a movie so depraved and violent that people were fainting and vomitting. IT made Eli Roth's sick fantasies look like baby Barbie's HAppy Fun JOy Joy partyy with Hello Kitty cuddlies.


12 posted on 12/08/2006 10:17:32 AM PST by Killborn (Age of servitude. A government of the traitors, by the liars, for the sheep.)
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To: Killborn

Who is this Italian? of which you speak.

His movie sounds like something Ronald Reagan would not star in! Call my embarrassed if it turns out he did star in this international superproduction. Often in the last stages of his career, Ronald Reagan would go overseas to star in a movie or two, like a "Spagetti" Western or one of those Sword-and-Sandal epics. I wonder if it is one of these movies of which you speak. I did not know Ronald Reagan was in so violent a movie.


13 posted on 12/08/2006 3:55:23 PM PST by Weep-o-crat Hunter
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To: Weep-o-crat Hunter
Reagan's last movie The Killers was considered for its time (1964) too violent for TV. The Gipper actually smacks Angie Dickenson around in one scene!
14 posted on 12/08/2006 3:59:24 PM PST by GodBlessRonaldReagan (Big dog, big dog, bow-wow-wow! We'll crush crime, now, now, now!)
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To: TaraP

It's a masterpiece.


15 posted on 12/08/2006 7:47:18 PM PST by Dajjal (See my FR homepage for new essay about Ahmadinejad.)
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To: TaraP
I didn't read the article you posted because I don't want to be spoiled. I want to see this film, I'm looking forward to seeing this film, the subject matter is intriguing. The lead character reminds me of Troy Polamalu, and I'm a Steelers fan!

Go Mel go!

16 posted on 12/08/2006 7:51:09 PM PST by Ciexyz (Satisfied owner of a 2007 Toyota Corolla.)
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To: TaraP

Don't expect me to jump on your "dump Mel" bandwagon.


17 posted on 12/08/2006 7:54:18 PM PST by Ciexyz (Satisfied owner of a 2007 Toyota Corolla.)
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To: TaraP
Not sure if I will see this or not. Other reviews were much more positive. But I was a guy who was disgusted with The Departed, so I'm not sure about this one.
18 posted on 12/08/2006 7:55:35 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Hugin
So Christians are only supposed to see movies that have a religious message? What a silly, limited view.

I think what the author is saying is that a violent movie might be worth seeing if it had some sort of redemptive message. He is saying that he did not detect that in Apocalypto.

19 posted on 12/08/2006 8:01:30 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Dajjal

You've seen it?


20 posted on 12/08/2006 8:03:04 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
Just got back.

Already planning to go twice again next week.

21 posted on 12/08/2006 8:10:22 PM PST by Dajjal (See my FR homepage for new essay about Ahmadinejad.)
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To: Dajjal

Wow - what did you like about it? Can you give us your thoughts?


22 posted on 12/08/2006 8:39:29 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen

I just saw it today - stunning. It is the movie of the year. It is non-politically correct because it destroys the leftist myth of the "Noble Savage" who is destroyed by the evil white Spanish Catholics - the truth is that the Mayans were just savages and the Spanish saved them from themselves and their evil witch doctors. The movie "Conquest of Paradise" shows the leftist view of western civilization destroying the Indian New World - Mel's movie shows the Spanish coming with a cross to destroy the hellish world that the Indians created for themselves and to bring them a better future. Excellent.


23 posted on 12/08/2006 9:03:20 PM PST by Howard Jarvis Admirer (Howard Jarvis, the foe of the tax collector and friend of the California homeowner)
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To: Howard Jarvis Admirer

Very interesting. Thank you!


24 posted on 12/08/2006 9:48:22 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen
Wow - what did you like about it? Can you give us your thoughts?

A friend of mine advised me to avoid all reviews before seeing it, and I'm glad I followed his advice. But if you're here, it's probably too late for that for you. LOL! I won't give any plot spoilers, but I was amazed by the story itself. Even apart from the big-picture "meaning" of the film, Gibson is just a good storyteller about these characters. And the cast of unknown actors were fantastic. There is complete conviction and believability in every character. Dean Semler did the cinematography -- he did the filming of all three "Mad Max" movies, and was the perfect choice for this film. Having the dialogue completely in Mayan was genius. Kudos to everyone involved with the costuming and special effects.

25 posted on 12/08/2006 10:14:05 PM PST by Dajjal (See my FR homepage for new essay about Ahmadinejad.)
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To: TaraP; Hugin; Cyclopean Squid; The Old Hoosier; Dajjal; Howard Jarvis Admirer
The guy has made some great movies.
I'll probably see it, too.
I hope it does well,
if only to pi$$ off the rest of Hollywood.

And even though I was disappointed in him in his drunken rant,
rules are rules...



He proved he wasn't perfect, but he sure looked the part.
26 posted on 12/09/2006 4:34:52 AM PST by MaryFromMichigan
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To: Cyclopean Squid

I saw the movie last night.

I believe that Mel was trying to show the audience that the native culture was terrible, bloody, savage, etc.

That the "invasion" of the Spanish Catholics was an improvement.

The audience applauded after this terribly bloody movie. That's California, I guess.


27 posted on 12/09/2006 7:04:41 AM PST by Loud Mime (Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. - Voltaire)
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To: Howard Jarvis Admirer

We had the same observations about the movie...

I kept wondering why it was so bloody; it was worse than "Saving Private Ryan." At the end I understood, and agree with you.


28 posted on 12/09/2006 7:07:54 AM PST by Loud Mime (Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. - Voltaire)
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To: TaraP

Fantastic film on so many levels. Too bad the reviewer is caught up in ugly ignorance.

This film is a masterpiece!


29 posted on 12/09/2006 4:20:55 PM PST by eleni121 ( + En Touto Nika! By this sign conquer! + Constantine the Great))
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To: Weep-o-crat Hunter

Don't worry. Pres. Reagan came from Hollywood's Golden Age. this Italian psychopath came during Commieweird's septic age. The movie was about 2-3 years ago.

HE would be very disappointed at the quality of movies today. The graves of actors, actresses, and directors of the Golden age have been turned into electrical generators, if you catch my drift.


30 posted on 12/10/2006 6:04:24 PM PST by Killborn (Age of servitude. A government of the traitors, by the liars, for the sheep.)
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To: TaraP

I saw a deep Christian message throughout the movie, which this reviewer apparently missed. I can understand how the bloody violence in the story would distract away from the underlying Christian theme, though.


31 posted on 12/12/2006 7:15:49 PM PST by ViLaLuz (2 Chronicles 7:14)
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