December 12, 2006

More mistakes in Apocalypto

'Apocalypto' does disservice to its subjectsFirst, a typical Maya village is shown as an unorganized group of jungle people who appear to subsist on hunting alone. The Maya were an agricultural people with a very structured social and economic system. Even small villages in the hinterlands of large cities were connected to some political center. The jungle people in Gibson's movie are flabbergasted at the sight of the Maya city, exclaiming that they have never seen such buildings. The truth is, pyramids of comparable size were never more than 20 kilometers away from anywhere in the Maya world, be they occupied or abandoned.

Second, Mayan city people are shown as violent extremists bent on harvesting innocent villagers to provide flesh for sacrifice and women for slaves, leaving the children to die alone in the jungle. Hundreds of men are sacrificed on an Aztec-style sacrificial stone, their headless bodies thrown into a giant ditch reminiscent of a Holocaust documentary or a scene from "The Killing Fields." Problem is, there exists no archaeological, historic or ethnohistoric data to suggest that any such mass sacrifices--numbering in the thousands, or even hundreds--took place in the Maya world.

No comments: