Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Apocalypto (2006)

I finally got to see Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. It is a brilliant film. Yes, it was violent, but not as violent as Braveheart, at least not in my opinion. The depth of spirituality and subtle Christian symbolism made the film very inspiring, even as the adrenaline flowed. It showed a husband and father putting his family first and being determined to save them no matter what the cost to himself. One of the underlying themes was that fear paralyzes the will and the intellect but when fear is reined in than the mind can come up with solutions. I would not recommend it for children or pregnant ladies but otherwise it was not as horrifically violent as I was originally led to believe. Share


Alan Phipps said...

My wife and I felt exactly the same way. We were very pleased, and we found it to be an excellent film, loaded with Catholic symbolism and imagery.

I'm not sure about you, but the scene where the captured are brought to the large tribal city to be sacrificed and sold struck us as though it could have been any modern city today. It almost reminded me of the types of worldliness one might see walking down a street in downtown Los Angeles.

elena maria vidal said...

I had the exact same impression, Alan.

Anonymous said...

I love him dearly, now, but Mel should hand out blindfolds with a ticket purchase. I shall not be seeing Apocalypto.. I'm still waiting for a heart strong enough to see Saving Private Ryan, Les Mis, Schindler's List.. I saw "The Passion"-- as penance (through the fingers over my eyes; and no doubt, many hairs turned silver that night).

And guess which part of Braveheart I tuned into one night on tv, about 10 years after it came out.. and to think that is now rather tame compared to the real horror flicks out there. Sheesh.


Anonymous said...


When I first saw it, I didn't notice any of the Christian imagery. I needed an anti-Mel user at IMDb.com to spell it out for me--though what he used to condemn Mel only fascinated me even more.

The connection I made immediately was to the great classical epics of Homer and Virgil. I think that the reason many haters (and I don't mean those who just mind the violence) don't get Apocalypto is that they didn't get the Iliad. The people who can say nothing more profound about Apocalypto than that it is "white supremacist" (which it certainly isn't!) remind me of those who insist on a feminist reading of Homer. They strain and strain at the wrong things, and miss the whole point.

Addressing the violence now: one of my students had an asthma attack when I screened this for her class! She turned out fine, of course, and said that it was mostly the shock which got to her.

Anonymous said...

Good review, EMV.

I recently saw this one at my sister's. It was violent, no doubt, and I did feel like saying, "Ok, ok, we get it. They were violent savages!"--especially during the capture scene. But the rest of the violence/human sacrifice scenes showed what was necessary, I think. In the story of the "good tribe" and particularly of the husband seeking to get free so he could save his family, it did a fine job of showing that there is some goodness and spirituality inherent in the God-made nature of mankind,particularly as they cooperated with natural grace. But it was also apparent that some of these savages were simply not able to be civilized in the least, they were so turned away from grace, as it were, as they submerged themselves in animal behavior. I loved the ending, of the little family, finally together, and spotting the Spanish coming with their Cross before them. What a contrast to see: after being so submerged in savagery for all their lives (or for the last 90 or 120 minutes to the viewer), to suddenly behold these products of Western Civilization-- it must have been very wonderous for them. And for us viewers, it is almost startling to be reminded that, miraculously, Western Civilization coincided with all this barbarism that we were entrenched in all during the movie. Gibson of course gives us the clue as to WHY this newly introduced civilization was so vastly different from that of the "natural" savages: the Cross. I think the movie is also a very artistic reminder of what we may degenerate back into if we forget God and His laws.

elena maria vidal said...

You all have such great insights. I just got back from the mountains and am just getting my bearings. The email was down but it seems working again.

Anonymous said...



Good call on "submerging . . . into animal behaviour" as a result of turning away from grace! I was just pointing out to my girls that the animals in the movie are meant to be very symbolic. :) I hope you don't mind if I borrow your words when I see them again tomorrow?

I haven't reviewed the ending of the film yet, but I remember Jaguar Paw being very unimpressed by the Spanish and their cross. Perhaps the Jaguar Paw at the beginning of the movie would have received them with real wonder, but he had become so hardened by the end of his ordeal (not that I can blame him, of course!) that he literally turned his back on them and tried to make his own new beginning with his family. (It's the wrong context, but now I'm reminded of what St. Frances de Sales--if I remember correctly--said about "spiritual murder." The greatest sin of Jaguar Paw's captors may have been their contribution to hardening his heart against the Cross.)

Yet the two captors who had chased him through the jungle did look absolutely mesmerised by the newcomers. Perhaps there was still hope for them . . .