November 26, 2006

Conquering age and Indians


Movie Review:  The FountainThe number one reason that i hated this movie was the negative portrayal of the Mayan natives and the good image given to the white guy, Tomas Creo, the conquistador looking for the "fountain of life." This was a typical cowboy-indian movie.

The Spanish ambition of Tomas Creo led this character to slaughter natives while on his path to find the tree that would save Spain. The asshole director, Darren Aronofsky, filmed a scene where the Chief Indian bows down to this white man and asks for his throat to be cut in order for the white guy Tomas to pursue his goal. What kind of shit is that!? No native will ever bow down to a white guy, even less expose his neck to one.
Comment:  I couldn't tell from the trailer how Hugh Jackman the conquistador dealt with Indians. Now I know.

I've seen David Aronofsky's Pi and found it to be a curious muddle. The Fountain seems to be a more sophisticated version of the same elliptical storytelling.

Vinicio's rating for The Fountain:  2/10 stars.


Rob said...

I agree with "not a sioux." Waterworld is a good movie and far superior to the unwatchable Ishtar. That it went over budget and bombed at the box office doesn't impugn its quality.

Rob said...

First, the Maya civilization no longer existed and the Maya Indians were scattered by the time the Spaniards arrived. The invaders dealt primarily with the Aztecs and their vassals, not with the Maya.

Second, the most well-known case of Mesoamericans awaiting white-skinned gods was the Aztec myth of Quetzalcoatl. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about that:

It has been widely believed that the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II initially believed the landing of Hernán Cortés in 1519 to be Quetzalcoatl's return. This has been questioned by many ethnohistorians (e.g. Matthew Restall 2001) who argue that the Quetzalcoatl-Cortés connection is asserted in no documents created independently of post-Conquest Spanish influence, and that there is little proof of a pre-Hispanic belief in Quetzalcoatl's return. Most documents expounding this theory are of entirely Spanish origin, such as Cortés's letters to Charles V of Spain, in which Cortés goes to great pains to present the naïve gullibility of the Mexicans in general as a great aid in his conquest of Mexico.

Rob said...

I bet the movie used the Maya rather than the Aztecs because Westerners perceive the Maya as purer and more spiritual than the bloody, warlike Aztecs. According to this view, the Maya are noble savages (at least until Apocalypto arrives). The Aztecs are just savages.

In any case, the movie seems to conflate Maya concepts of death and rebirth with the Western concept of the Tree of Life. In reality, from what I've read, the Maya religion was much more complex than Christianity. Portraying the two as overlapping or related or coequal has the effect of homogenizing or dumbing down the Maya beliefs.

Rob said...

I think you've merely rephrased what I said, "not a sioux." I meant something similar.

I hope The Fountain didn't show Tomas dealing with a Maya priest atop a Maya pyramid. If it did, that was surely an anachronism.

I read a book on Maya cosmology and I don't remember a story like that, Russ. I still suspect the movie combined Christian and Maya beliefs into a theological mishmash.

As you described it, the scene reminds me of the events noted in When (the Christian) God made the Dakotas. Kessler's book combined Christian and Native beliefs to the detriment of the latter. I bet The Fountain did something similar.

Finally, the Spanish priests found and burned the codices because the Maya left them lying around for a couple hundred years after their civilization fell apart. Although the Maya survived as farmers and peasants, their writings outlived their civilization.