Skip to comments.Mel Gibson turns from Christ's Passion to Mayan blood rites
Posted on 10/29/2005 6:40:07 PM PDT by Pokey78
His most recent film, featuring flayings and floggings and with dialogue in Aramaic and Latin, was a worldwide hit. Now Mel Gibson has announced his next project will be set against the bloodthirsty backdrop of the Mayan empire - this time in an ancient dialect called Yucatec. Gibson's The Passion of the Christ last year became the most successful independent film ever made, grossing more than £200 million worldwide. It was also a hit in America's bible belt, which has long felt ignored by Hollywood. The star claims that his new thriller, Apocalypto, will champion another neglected cause, the millions of Maya who still live in Mexico and Central America, many of whom speak one of the Mayan languages.
Anyone who turned nauseous at the flesh-ripping carnage of The Passion should fear for their stomachs again. While Mayan civilisation thrived for nearly 2,000 years before its mysterious collapse, mastering astronomy and the construction of pyramids, it also carried out savage rituals of human sacrifice to appease the gods.
'Hey, this is for kids with strong stomachs,' said Gibson, 49, responding to a question about plans for children's movies during a press conference in the Mexican port city of Veracruz, where the conqueror Hernan Cortes landed in the early 16th century en route to demolishing the Aztec empire.
The devout Roman Catholic said that the plot of Apocalypto - a Greek word meaning 'new beginning' - concerns a Maya Indian family man who 'has to overcome tremendous odds to preserve what he values the most'. The action movie - directed, produced, funded and co-written by, but not starring Gibson - will employ relatively unknown actors along with hundreds of extras speaking the Mayan tongue of Yucatec.
'I'm hoping that by focusing on this civilisation we're able to be introspective about ourselves,' Gibson explained. 'It's set before the Conquest, so we are using mostly indigenous people and actors from Mexico City. There's a lot of mystery to the Mayan culture, but it's just the backdrop to what I'm doing - creating an action adventure of mythic proportions.'
The star has endeared himself to his hosts by offering £560,000 to reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Stan, which devastated Mexico and Central America this month. The Mexican media highlighted images of Gibson meeting with President Vicente Fox. Tourism officials are hoping that the film, due to begin shooting in mid-November, will pump £11m into the economy.
A vanished civilisation
1) Mayan civilisation stretched across much of what is now southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala and endured for nearly two millenniums, disappearing around AD 900.
2) Despite lacking the cartwheel or metal tools, the Maya built pyramids, palaces and courts for a ritual ball game. They inhabited vast cities such as Chichen Itza, Tikal and Uxmal.
3) Mayan astronomers mapped the phases of celestial objects, especially the Moon and Venus, and tracked a solar year of 365 days. They developed mathematics, using a base number of 20, and had a concept of zero. The civilisation was sufficiently stable to have a word for a 400-year time period.
4) The collapse of their civilisation, which occurred centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, has long been a mystery. Theories include civil war, invasion, migration, disease, over-farming, over-population and drought.
I can't imagine what he's up to, but knowing Mel Gibson it will probably be terrific.
remotely related: a friend wrote a book about the Yanomamo tribe. Very eye opening. ("Spirit of the Rainforest," by Mark Ritchie).
Well, now we know what happened to them.
Katrina's mother and Andew's father paid them a visit.
Why do movie-goers like being grossed out/scared/disgusted/etc? Blecch.
Mel might find out the hard way that the violence and obscure dialect weren't what drew millions of people to the Passion.
Zoykes. I've toured many an ancient Mayan city in Mexico. Ever stand next to a bottomless pool that was used for sacrificing children? Yeesh! They'd load them down with gold and jewels, then shove them over the edge to sink and drown...in hope of rain!
I get chills just thinking about it, and it was totally creepy standing next to one.
Yeah. People are going to need extremely strong stomachs for this one!
The article says the film grossed 200 million Brit pounds world-wide but in American dollars the gross was $611,899,420 (box office mojo) which I believe is more than the 200 million pounds stated. Either way it is still the most successful indie film ever especially in regards to the subtitles.
What's he gonna call this one, "Passion of the Quezelquoatl"?
And the R rating.
I'd go see it. The Mayan civilization is still a mystery to many. They're still finding stuff buried in deep jungle that gives more information about the people.
Mel makes great movies about patriotism and courage. Braveheart and The Patriot were two of the best in my book. And who doesn't love Mad Max as fantasy flicks?
Mel is fantastic. He will surely not disappoint us with this film.
If I were a producer, I would LOVE to make a film about the conquest of Mexico or Peru, based on Prescott's classic accounts. They would be VERY violent and VERY politically incorrect.
Agreed on all of them.
It would be very, very difficult to top The Passion, so I don't blame him for trying something completely different.
I'm not worried about disappointment. I'm worried about being able to stomach it after personally witnessing where he's filming!
I barely, just barely made it through "The Passion." It was gut-wrenching. And life-changing. I don't think a Mayan story will touch me as deeply. Just a cultural thing, nothing against Mel, who has been entertaining me since his Mad Max days, LOL!
I haven't seen The Passion but I suppose I will some day. Another I thought was good was We were soldiers.
2000 years seems a bit extreme unless the Toltec, Omec, etc. civilizations are lumped in with Mayan.
Maybe we will see a reenactment of the ball game though. I'm still not sure of the rules (but I did climb the pyramid and run across the ball court.)