Cast: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernandez
Director: Mel Gibson
Storyline: The peace of a tribal village is disrupted when Mayans ravage homes and take the villagers captive for human sacrifice.
Bottomline: Do you have a stomach for this?
Be warned, this, despite cuts is not for children, the faint-hearted or pregnant women.
Mel Gibson revels in fleshing out a recklessly raw, ultra-violent edge-of-the seat chase drama that relentlessly explores savagery and the dark side of an ancient civilization.
Gore fills the frames, guts spill out, lives are lost and you not just see blood on screen, you can almost smell the rotting flesh of corpses. In many ways, it’s voyeuristic – Ever wondered what a human head chewed on by a Jaguar or the insides of a Brazilian tapir would look like? Gibson shows you with fascinating detail that could make you throw up.
Certainly not the kind of movie Granny would approve of.
Yet, purely on the basis of cinematic merit, ‘Apocalypto’ is a must-watch for the unflinching passion Gibson displays in crafting and layering a rather simple story of tribals being taken captive for human sacrifice (with superstition related to the Solar Eclipse included) with heart-stopping adrenaline.
What appears to be an age-old tale begins with a quote that puts the film in the context of the world today, insinuating references to contemporary politics and the greed of man that will lead his world to destruction.
With that context established, Gibson’s approach is paradoxically two-pronged. He’s as subtle as a sledge-hammer slamming your senses with some seriously savage story-telling yet, as smooth as silk, spinning in the subtext – the lessons to learn from history.
Employing the Maya language for realism and credibility, the director manages to use the abstractness of the language we don’t understand to alienate us from the events and successfully suspend disbelief. The fact that you don’t know any of the cast makes the characters further unpredictable.
The indigenous bunch led by Rudy Youngblood consists of able unknown Mexican actors who’ve evidently worked hard on their physically exhausting roles. Add to that some painstakingly shot larger-than-life visuals and meticulously detailed production design and what you get is a triumph for cinema.
Personal tastes, factual inaccuracies and historical inconsistencies, if any, cannot take away credit due to Gibson, the filmmaker.
Stay away if you are in the mood for popcorn entertainment.
This one needs a solid stomach.