Film Reviews


By • Dec 8th, 2006 •

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Icon Entertainment / 139 minutes

Brilliant. A masterpiece. The best film of the year and I should know. I’ve seen them all.

Did Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade hurt APOCALYPTO? Perhaps if Gibson cared about awards, but he clearly doesn’t. Long after Mel’s embarrassing night out is forgotten, APOCALYPTO will be remembered as a great film. Celebrities are making vulgar public behavior part of our culture. We now have a troika of celebrity killers walking free, a teen role model showing off her vagina (“going commando”) to paparazzi three nights in a row, DUIs, Hit-and-Runs, and all those sex tapes – so many, nobody cares anymore.

Here is what is so impressive about APOCALYPTO: It looks authentic. We have never seen anything so foreign but so realistic. And, it is a harrowing adventure story. The story is a compelling drama that never lets up. It is not, as some has suggested, Gibson’s continued passion for sadism. In my opinion, Gibson, whether he knows it or not, has tapped into the Elysian Mysteries.

Why whitewash the cruelty of the Mayan civilization? Gibson’s brilliance as a filmmaker is that the film does not have a message. We have instilled APOCALYPTO with a message. This is its true power.

Gibson just told a riveting, exciting story. But, in doing so, he has made us think.

I do not want to be preached to. I do not want Hollywood to make me a better person.

As a student of human sacrifice through the ages – I have a section of my library on the subject*– I understand what we are doing in Iraq.

We are making sacrificial offerings to The Oil God.

Did the Mayan rulers actually believe that daily human sacrifices would keep the Sun rising every day or make the corn grow? Did they really believe human sacrifices would keep their women fertile? Were there more practical reasons for the Mayan industry of human sacrifice?

Human sacrifice throughout history is a fact. It’s just got a different patina now. We have coated it with the hallowed word “democracy.” Abraham, the founding patriarch of the Israelites, was commanded by God to offer his son up as a sacrifice. Clearly, this was something that was commonplace at the time. Proceeding to obey, Abraham was prevented by an angel as he was about to sacrifice his son, and slew a ram instead. This symbolically ended human sacrifice and transferred it to animals. We continue the practice by burning Church candles.

The Mayan culture flourished through human sacrifice. Our culture continues the tradition. We are not killing for crops, but “peace.” Doesn’t it make you feel better? Don’t you cheer the “insurgents” death toll?

APOCALYPTO, directed by Gibson and written by Gibson and Farhad Safinia, takes us into a peaceful Mayan jungle village where we glimpse the warmth and friendliness of the people. Danger is foreshadowed as a small group of men out hunting come across the ravaged survivors of another village.

APOCALYPTO centers on hunter Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood). His young wife (Dalia Hernandez) is pregnant with their second child. Their village is brutally attacked in a horrific slaughter by well-organized warriors. There is no need for dialogue. Hiding his family in a deep well, Jaguar Paw is captured. Their fate is as perilous as his.

The captured men and women are tied to poles and dragged through the rain forest to the capital city. The men are immediately painted blue.** The women are sold as slaves. The speed of their fate, from village directly to the sacrificial altar, is devastating in its assembly-line efficiency. I did not watch the next part as victims were held down on the altar and a priest carves out bloody, pulsating hearts. The head is then severed from the body and the corpse thrown down the temple steps. As with the Roman Games, witch-burning (attendance was mandatory), and public executions by guillotine, the crowd reveled in celebration.

Jaguar Paw is next in line. A solar eclipse – the gods show they are sated – saves him from the altar but all the captives are immediately sent to a ball court. The warriors tell them to run across the field as they attempt to kill them with arrows.

Wounded, Jaguar Paw escapes only to be chased through the jungle by the warriors. These men will not stop their pursuit of him. The excitement does not let up. This is pure entertainment. There is no political message here.

Everything about the production is outstanding. The scenes of the capital city are awesome in execution. To ignore the artistry of APOCALYPTO would be as mean-spirited as Mel’s outburst.

Back to Mel. I don’t blame Mel for his night out in Malibu. I blame his wife, Robyn. They have been married twenty-six years. Is Mel a mystery to Robyn? Where was his handler, personal assistant, or bodyguard? Doesn’t Mel have a friend? If Mel is indeed an alcoholic, why was he allowed out alone to drink and drive? Where are the people paid to keep an eye on him? If your husband was Mel Gibson and had a history of carousing, or, being “suicidal,” would you let him go out to a neighborhood bar and possibly make a fool of himself?

Doesn’t anyone at Icon Productions think about the bottom line?

See what happens when you don’t spend THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST money on a personal man-sitter? Robyn, why not hire your husband a driver? Obviously, there is a position open in the Gibson household and I’d like to apply for the job of being Mel’s paid shadow-companion. I will even go to his Church. My resume states the fact that I can quote Scripture.

*Includes, but not limited to, “The Highest Altar: Unveiling the Mystery of Human Sacrifice” by Patrick Tierney, “Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice” by Garry Hogg, “Sacrifice in Greek & Roman Religions and Early Judaism” by Royden Keith Yerkes, and “Sacrifice and Sacrament” by E.O. James.

**At Yushintaita, Ayahuascero Don Augustin Rivas-Vasquez’s Amazonian retreat, participants are required to undergo certain body-cleansing rituals as integral parts of the preparation for ayahuasca use. Everyone must take a huitol bath. Huitol is a plant dye that turns the skin dark blue by the following morning. The blue-tinted colored skin can take weeks to wear off. Don Augustin tells the participants the new dark blue color of their skin creates a paradigm shift. One other possible purpose for this ritual is to create a physical change in the appearance of the body, such as the body painting rituals many indigenous cultures used prior to rites of passage or going into battle. Dying one’s skin dark blue may be symbolic of the personal battles and changes one undergoes during the ayahuasca ceremonies. It also is said to keep people from fleeing the retreat after frightening experiences with ayahuasca.

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