October 19, 2006

BEST OF ALL, THE MAYANS AREN'T TRYING TO CENSOR HIM:

Mel Gibson Did It Again! (Father Jonathan Morris, October 19, 2006, FOX News)

His film matters. That's my critique of “Apocalypto.”

Don't get me wrong. This is no sequel to “The Passion of the Christ.” Some of his fervent fans will be disappointed if they were hoping for another religious epic. Mel just didn't have it in him. He doesn't see himself as a prophet, a spiritual director, or a religious role model. But he knows how to make movies, and he has been making good and responsible ones for a very long time.

That's what Mel has done again. He's made a heart-stopping, mythic action-adventure that tells an ancient story in a way that matters. During the process of releasing the “Passion,” Mel realized a tremendous hunger in the audience for a different kind of film. Talking about his reasoning for making “Apocalypto” he said, “People want big stories that say something to them emotionally and touch them spiritually.”

Of all of his past films, this one most resembles “Braveheart.” The only difference is that it takes place in an ancient Mayan jungle, is spoken in the ancient Mayan language, and is represented by a bunch of unknown actors who, for the most part, had never acted before. Oh yeah, and the story is not about Scotland's fight for independence from the Brits, but rather the fight for personal and spiritual independence of a hero who risks his life to free himself from an opulent, but now decaying pre-European Mayan culture.

The protagonist is Juguar Paw (played by newcomer Rudy Youngblood). He is innocent. He is strong. He is in love with his wife, his family, and his traditional culture. In the darkness of an ordinary night, invaders abruptly interrupt his idyllic existence. What ensues is a riveting and relentless chase film that provides a unique context for telling a story about personal and societal survival.

The analogy to our present culture is discreet, but powerful. A society that allows itself to fall apart from within will be unable to withstand threats from without.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2006 12:10 PM
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