December 15, 2006

Apocalypto's pluses and minuses

Indian Comics Irregular #148:  Gibson's Buckets of Blood


Anonymous said...

On the plus side: As a Native person, I appreciate any film that attempts to depict the reality of internal Native American conflicts. The beautiful thing about this movie is that it's a movie ABOUT Indians. Europeans have no place in the story, other than as a vague, futuristic threat--we know they're coming, eventually. But the real meat of the film are the Mayan heroes and (well, not so heroic characters) that we come to know.
I also admire the use of the ancient Mayan dialect.

On the minus said: The Mayans have said that their culture is inaccurately portrayed, and though I'm not Mayan myself, I can certainly sympathize with their claims. I think that Mel Gibson could have told this same story while at the same time perhaps making a studied effort to present the culture more realistically. I don't even mean by making the film less violent or bloody (because, face it, these were brutal times) but, for example, at least portraying the sacrifices realistically. The Mayans did practice a form of human sacrifice (in which most victims did so willingly as a form of self-sacrifice) but not as the kind of bloody gory exhibition sideshow that the movie presents. It is these kinds of details that I believe have detracted from what otherwise might have been a noble effort to bring this culture to the screen.

Rob said...

At least one person has said Gibson could've set Apocalypto in any time or place. Which is why critics have rightly slammed him for choosing to stereotype the Maya.

Instead, what if he had set the story in a fantasy kingdom--e.g., Atlantis? As far as I can tell, it wouldn't have hurt the story much. In fact, it might've saved him some money on set and costume design, since he wouldn't have had to do any research.

Rob said...

Atlantis was just an example. If you prefer, use Lemuria, Freedonia, or Elbonia instead.

The point is, if you're going to tell a fairy tale about a kingdom, make it a fairy-tale kingdom. Don't falsify the facts of a real kingdom for your own selfish storytelling.