APOCALYPTO poster Mel Gibson

Rating: 3.5 of 5 ★★★½☆ 

To begin with, I went into Apocalypto without knowing what to expect and I think this is the sort of film that is better that way.

I enjoyed it.

It’s very powerful emotionally and visually.

But know that it’s violent, not throughout but where it is – it’s savage and visceral. If you can handle that then I’d say it’s worth seeing.

It doesn’t feel as long as it is. I didn’t even realize until after the movie was finished how much of it is without dialog. Which I think is significant because normally when you think of a long movie (over 2 hours) with sparse dialog the first thing I’d think is that I’d get bored. And I wasn’t. I didn’t even notice.

Detailed analysis (i.e. spoilers) ยป

I loved the little prophetess and the scene with the jaguar and how Jaguar Paw fulfilled the prophecy and how the forest really seemed to be a living thing protecting him. And how when he got that (after the mud pit) he stopped being afraid and really stepped into himself as a hunter and stopped just running. Which as I type that totally fits into the main hunters line about how he runs because he’s afraid. When he stopped being afraid he stopped running.

The ‘messages’ are clear, I think, but not overwhelming; stated very forthrightly and then the movie keeps going on. They’re not subtle and he’s not wrong. But they’re also very layered and he’s saying a lot of things at once sometimes. The film speaks with the voice of a prophet rather than a preacher.

I liked the quote at the beginning about civilizations destroying themselves from within.

There was a very clear story on man’s consumption which was augmented for me by Mel’s Diane Sawyer interview where he spoke of the conspicuous consumption that precedes a civilization’s demise. And we saw the Mayan’s conspicuous consumption of human beings in their blood sacrifice. It’s such an extreme and it made me so sad.

There was the so much going on in the city. It was such a different picture from the forest tribe earlier: the children fighting for food, vicious and angry and sad compared with the calm, open grounded forest children; human beings being sold which diminished life and humanity in the the people being sold and in the buyers and sellers who didn’t think anything was amiss with what they were doing; the upper class being indolent and apathetic to everything going on around them made the forest hunters transcend from simple people to being noble in their strength and honor for themselves and the world around them. And then the hoodoo priest’s speech about how they were perceived as rotting from the inside but he called them strong, when compared to the forest people they so clearly weren’t. We saw what it looks like when a civilization destroys itself from within.

And the whole thing about fear and what it does to human beings and living without it.

There was such a difference between the hunters for survival and the hunters of men that drove the whole movie. It made the remembrance to Abel very fitting and poignant.

A film like this is good. But when we’re drawn (or forced) to ask questions about ourselves and our own lives and choose to change then it becomes a film that matters.


December 13, 2006 | Review , , | this post contains affiliate links