Saturday 24 November 2007

I watched Mel Gibson's Apocalypto and enjoyed it. I watched it again the next night. I daresay it has got no more resemblance to historical fact than did his Braveheart, in which the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge was restaged in the middle of a field. But I like that movie too. To argue that they are not true to their sources is to operate on the presumption that they ought to be. It's like expecting te circus to be true to facts. Indeed it would make more sense to say that facts were not faithful to the movie that would eventually be made.



Blogger James Robert Smith said...

I liked Braveheart. Not the type of movie I want to see more than once, though. I've yet to see Apocalypto.

24 November 2007 at 06:04:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Luke P. said...

Apocalypto was great.
What historical inaccuracies you noticed?
I mean, the characterizations were fictional of course, but as far as know the info about the culture at that period is pretty sound.

24 November 2007 at 15:52:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

24 November 2007 at 16:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

well, I wouldn't make a fuss about it. As I said, I don't expect movies to be overly concerned with the truth.

spoiler spoiler spoiler

a community living at a stone-age level of development within 'running' distance of a pyramid city and not knowing about its existence strikes me as implausible, when you consider that they share the same language as the members of the two separate communities that they encounter. Reading up on the details confirms that they conflated hundreds of years into the narrative space. The pyramids were supposedly abandoned at the time of the Spanish arrival and their heyday was some six hundred years previous, etc. etc.
The business of nabbing people from elsewhere for sacrificing also struck me as an odd idea that could only be explainable by an extreme level of panic and self deception, and social breakdown. Sacrificing something that doesn't belong to you is no sacrifice at all. the gods could not be fooled so easily. And as somebody elsewhere has pointed out, the open mass grave beside the corn field (food supply) looks like an abandonment of all hope not quite in keeping with the state of things as seen up to that point.

on the other hand, all of this is what makes the movie work.

24 November 2007 at 16:58:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

I have to differ with you concerning the mysteries of various cultures in pre-Europe Americas.

One reason the natives didn't overly freak out when big bad Whitey appeared is that they were accustomed to stumbling across totally different cultures (languages, religions, dress, technologies, etc.) within walking distance of their own nations.

If you were a hunter-gatherer/part-time farmer, you likely didn't travel all that far, especially if there were taboos in place to prevent you from doing so.

In retrospect, the human sacrifice practiced by the Aztecs (I think Gibson refers to them as "Mayans" in the film?) was a minor moral infraction when compared to the vast and imcomparable genocide committed by the Europeans against those native humans they found inhabiting North and South America.

I really should see the film so that I can talk about it with some authority.

24 November 2007 at 17:24:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Interesting line from the Wikipedia entry on Maya civilization:

"With the decipherment of the Maya script it was discovered that the Maya were one of the few civilizations where artists attached their name to their work."

24 November 2007 at 18:05:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

And I like this very much:

"Although the number of logograms and syllabic symbols required to fully write the language numbered in the hundreds, literacy was not necessarily widespread beyond the elite classes. Graffiti uncovered in various contexts, including on fired bricks, shows nonsensical attempts to imitate the writing system."

24 November 2007 at 18:07:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bet those bloody Mayans have been rewriting their history in WIKI, don't they have anything better to do?

Don't tell Mel or he will remove the WIKI entry on the Holocaust.

24 November 2007 at 18:41:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Luke P. said...

I thought it had more to do with the nature of power and empire rather than trying to compare what the Spanish did with what the elites of the Aztec/Mayan empires did. I mean, they were both really awful.
I don't think apologetics for either has bearing on the lessons of the film ( - and I admit I am weary of the white-guilt inspired re-imaginings of native cultures, regardless of their activities, as somehow more 'pure' than what "we" did to them) . Seems we're all capable of great evil. It seems like total power totally perverts everyone.
The last scene: Staying in the forest with your family seems like a Universal and good response to tyranny, whatever shape it takes.

24 November 2007 at 20:35:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


(Mayan graffiti via William Burroughs.)

25 November 2007 at 00:41:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Aaron White said...

I met the screenwriter of Braveheart once. IIRC he said that he constructed the script in large part by riffing on The Bible. He also has nightmares of the real William Wallace demanding to know why he was played by an Australian.

26 November 2007 at 15:14:00 GMT-5  
Blogger antonio said...

Eddie If you can check this movie CABEZA DE VACA in English would mean HEAD OF A COW it is a mexican movie done in the nineties and it is the movie in where Gibson based all the it!!

I did not like Apocalypto mainly because it is an amazing storytelled piece of work without story...

Have a great day!!


27 December 2007 at 04:12:00 GMT-5  

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