Monday, March 12, 2007

Movie Review: Apocalypto

Cast: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernanandez

Direction: Mel Gibson

A pure directorial extravagance, Apocalypto is based on the premise that civilizations destroy themselves from within first. The film apparently uses Mayan’s as protagonists (well, the movie is a foreign language with subtitles, most people would not know the history), but is fraught with inconsistencies throughout. The Spaniards arrived much later than the Mayans and the culture depicted is apparently close to the Aztecs.

The plot is simple. A village is ransacked and after extensive plunder, those who are alive are taken captives. Men to be offered as sacrifice and women to be sold as slaves. Jaguar Paw is a young hunter of the tribe. He helps his family escape and promises them he will return. How he fulfills his destiny marks the rest of the film.

Yes, the movie is gory and brutal for most part. From the time the animal is hunted in the first few moments to when the high priest pulls out the heart from a living man and then chops off his head. You have a pit full of dead bodies, the people responding to orgy of violence, a pregnancy under water and random killings and acts of violence. But, the premise still remains. When Paw finally says “ We go to the jungle, for a new beginning”, that's all that remains. The beginning of destructions of civilizations is always from within. Civilizations, which have been inward looking and decadent or tending to cannibalize nature, have been exterminated through history. Probably the violence is just for cinematic (and directorial- Passion of the Christ was pretty gory too J ) reasons, but the spirit of Paw stands out.

Paw is a man who is consumed by fear of the unknown. His father exhorts him to free himself, but that only happens towards the end. “ I am not afraid”, that is probably the most difficult thing for people to say. His destiny is revealed through a prophecy which gets fulfilled. Cinematic? Sure, let us have some more of that.

Spectacular photograph and special effects make the film exceptionally realistic and hence gut wrenching. Mass of bodies, the execution, the baby’s movement in the stomach, the snake, the Jaguar. The last chase is superb and the movie is a must watch at least for that. Gibson’s direction holds the pace.

Rating: 7.5/10

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