I rented Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto on DVD this weekend and fairly enjoyed it. I know it was wrong of me to put more money into that creep’s coffers. Mr. Gibson’s antisemitism is beneath contempt and I (of all people) should have cut off my hand before I used it to pick up the remote and power on the DVD player.
That being said, I can only recommend about 10 minutes of the entire movie to my readers. Go ahead and rent it, if you’re feeling rich, and jump to the scene when they take the prisoners into the big city and up to the Temple of the Sun. It’s extremely sensationalist and decadent. Middle class Mayan housewives look momentarily with pity upon the newly captured prisoners, then return to their chores. The upper-caste Mayan women sport the most Baroque hairstyles imaginable as they snake their way through dense crowds borne by slaves on liters. While most of the daily life and ritual of the Mayans, as it was portrayed by Mr. Gibson, probably had no more basis in reality than Shrek 3, it was a fun, gory romp with a cast of thousands that brought to mind my old friend Cecil B. DeMille.
Nothing sums up the contradictions of our society so well as the scene with the panther. Because these noble creatures have been hunted and abused to the point of extinction, the scene when the warriors killed a panther was so obviously fake- a classic piece of cinematic camp. Clearly Mr. Gibson didn’t want to offend the sensibilities of cat lovers. I applaud his sensitivity. Despite our best efforts, humans are not on any endangered species lists. Scenes depicting human torture and murder are free to be portrayed as far as the limits technology will allow.