Film Review

Cameron Slick
Staff Writer

If one approaches Apocalypto with the same expectations as The Passion of the Christ, they’d assuredly be disturbed. It’s not as violent as The Passion, but curiously, the film is critical of religion in the vain of “opium for the masses”, and that their religious beliefs destroy their civilization. Is it fathomable the same man who gave us The Passion now gives us Apocalypto? It mirrors the same level of connectivity as D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and Intolerance. Only Gibson is hardly apologizing, he’s flabbergasting in anecdote, and what we see on the big screen is staggering and unique. A group of village hunters catch a pig. Jaguar Paw and his fellow villagers encounter other people passing through their forest, who tell them they’d been “ravaged”. The next morning, they are attacked by mercenaries. Jaguar Paw hides his wife and child in a cave and fights valiantly before the mercenaries kidnap him. The scene is gory with anguish, for what the mercenaries is transcendent of injustice. They rape many of the women, kill some men, and ignore the children. The villagers are taken to a great Mayan city, where they are to be executed. The city is a haven of indulgences, where nothing really seems like its being produced. Hundreds of people gather around stairs of pyramids, patiently waiting for the next sacrifice to be made. The film obviously doesn’t end here. Gibson is critical of the Mayans, but allegorically critical of all religions that have any basis in fear. The Mayans executed hundreds of rural people every day because of their fear of a reprise from the Gods, and many citizens followed their religious leaders blindly. The same thing happens today in many religions, even when one such leader is proved to be corrupt. Cinematographer Dean Semler does a stunning job at capturing the images of the film. Shooting in jungles must not be simple, and the beauty he captures might even lead to late-year awards. If Mel Gibson’s achievements as a director were the only thing he would be remembered for, he could go down in the history books alongside another actor-turned-director, Clint Eastwood. Three of his four movies have been incredibly violent in ways that push the films forward, and none shy away from the reality of gore.