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Apocalypto – Now in Muscat February 11, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Movies.
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I watched Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto yesterday at Ruwi Cinema. And my verdict is – Simply Superb! Apocalypto opens with an interesting quote by W.H. Durant on the collapse of the Roman Empire – “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” Apocalypto explores the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula on its way to decline. The main protagonist of the story is Jaguar Paw, a the son of a Mayan chief who along with his villagers, are enslaved by another Mayan tribe to be offered as human sacrifices to the Sun God. The movie highlights Jaguar Paw’s escape from the clutches of those who have held him captive and his return to his family in his native village in the jungle.

The entire movie is in an amazing language called Yucatec Maya that has such as beautiful, mellifluous feel to it. I came back and did some reading and learnt that the movie was quite controversial – most historians allege that Gibson has not portrayed Mayans accurately and the film is riddled with historical inaccuracies. In fact, a lot of critics have chastised Gibson for his ‘racist portrayal of Mayans’. Click here to read Liza Grandia’s (an anthropologist and postdoctoral fellow at Yale) article – The Sober Racism of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto.

Gibson says that he made the movie because he finds great similarities in the way the Mayan civilization disintegrated and the world today, especially the West, which is steadfastly moving on a path of destruction. There’s no mistaking the amount of painstaking work that’s been put in this movie – it’s a compelling story, creating that magical effect on you – Gibson’s passion as a filmmaker is unquestionable. Even his message of using civilizations on decline to drive in the point that humans create the very conditions that cause their destruction would have been more powerful if he had picked the right civilization.

Apocalypto is heart gripping, packed with moments of suspense, thrill and action. The photography is just amazing – the pristine view of the Mesoamerican jungles almost leaves you glued to the seat. You are always rooting for the protagonist of the movie, Jaguar Paw, who has decided to ‘seek a new beginning’. It’s great that movies like this get screened in Muscat, despite the blood, gore and ample view of flesh. Apocalypto is never to be missed!

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