Just saw Apocalypto. It reminded me a little of Herzog’s Aguirre Wrath of God. Funny about jungle movies in that they fly in the face of traditional framing; a terrifying lack of linearity. On the other hand, as an environment, they perfectly mirror movies; jungles are the ultimate collaborative effort. Anyway, yes, a very good movie.
My brother once said how bored he was with any movie featuring a protagonist doing things on a keyboard with all the requisite score and supposed tension. Quite agree. Nothing like a person actually running. As in Casino Royale with the amazing parkeur sequence that starts it off, like Run Lola Run, like Diva; there is nothing like watching someone run in a movie (or hold their breath underwater). We all know what it is like to run, to run to the point of gasping, and to hold our breath, and so, unlike so many fantastic things on the screen, we, at least in this, can truly understand what it might be like. And when the sequences extend seemingly uncut, you actually get tired watching as in Lola, where you think, oh my God, again?? In Apocalypto, the last half of the film or so is one long chase sequence through the jungle, one long ultra marathon run with the added thrill of certain death for at least one of the participants.
The story is basically about one man whose village is destroyed, his family and friends either killed or taken captive; his journey with the other captives to an Aztec like city where he is almost sacrificed but for a timely eclipse of the sun. He escapes with his captors in pursuit through the jungle (hence the chase sequence). There is quite a contrast between his somewhat warm village and the militaristic captors.
This is a brutal film. As brutal in its way as Passion of the Christ but rather than depicting the sufferings of one, this generalizes to the many. But while some might quibble with the graphic violence, I suspect it is not that far from the realities of the time (and I do realize Gibson has presented somewhat of an amalgam of both Mayans and Aztecs). What I do like arethe same things I liked about Black Robe (one of the great Canadian films of all time and the only one that has truly expressed the cold vastness of this country before the big peopling) in the grand and terrible depiction of nature and the gimlet eye turned on what is so often romanticized about older cultures. Yes, the European destruction of these cultures was tragic but lets not forget that among other things, the Mayans and the Aztecs both enjoyed the quaint distraction of extracting the still beating hearts of children (for a very good cause, they say, as those things usually are).
And I really must say, a very appropriate movie for yours truly for this is one unbroken vista of many asses of steel. What with all that running, the overall sole to scalp athleticism and the open buttock outfits, you have the true ass of steel epic.